By: Brook Ptacek, Spring 2019 IAC Student Intern
After a year, my clinic story is finally winding to an end—but what an end it has been. Over the course of my time with Georgia State’s Investor Advocacy Clinic, I have gotten to assist Georgia’s Secretary of State with investigations into fraudulent schemes and sales of unregistered securities. As a student clinician, I have been able to help potential clients with issues such as the mishandling of portfolio transfers and clarifying the terms of variable annuity contracts. But the cherry on top was when the Clinic got to speak in D.C. at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Clinic attended the SEC’s first-ever Investor Advocacy Clinic Summit in D.C. Clinics from across the country attended and shared their experiences working with underserved investors. Together, the clinics discussed the sale practices and tactics that we see retail investors face on a regular basis. We discussed solutions to the types of scenarios we see plaguing small retail investors and how we could feasibly implement the solutions we suggested. For the first time, the clinics were able to speak face-to-face with SEC Commissioners and policymakers on behalf of our clients. We got to speak for the everyday retail investor and discuss the issues they presently have with the system.
Speaking in D.C. was an awesome and indescribable experience. Moreover, it was the perfect end to my clinic story. My experience at the clinic has not been an easy one. Securities regulation can be complicated to learn and understanding the different types of investment products out there can be difficult to grasp—especially when you have no prior finance background. But what D.C. emphasized is that this is true for the average Joe investor too. It may take some legwork to understand the product you’re buying, or the investment opportunity being offered, and that’s ok. You do not need to know everything to be a successful investor; and when you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask. Chances are there is more to learn and more people sitting right there wondering the same thing as you.