Becoming a licensed financial planner or a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is not easy. To obtain your license anywhere in the United States, you must meet specific education, experience, and examination requirements, and you must abide by strict ethical standards. If you are being investigated by the state licensing board, you need an experienced professional license defense attorney working to make sure you get an outcome that helps you protect your livelihood and reputation.
Even with the best of intentions and efforts, a licensed financial planner could face allegations of professional misconduct or malpractice. In those situations, license holders need to defend themselves against claims that they violated their fiduciary duty to clients, provided unsuitable investment advice, or failed to disclose material information to clients.
You have invested a lot of time in education, training, and in building your reputation. A single complaint could cost you your license or certification. You need someone on your side who knows how to help you and is ready to work to save your career.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team help licensed professionals who are accused of misconduct nationwide. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888)535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.
What types of offenses could cost me my license or certification?
Financial planners are expected to provide high-quality, ethical advice to their clients. This includes staying up to date on regulatory requirements and industry best practices, conducting due diligence on investment opportunities, and disclosing all material information to clients. It also includes maintaining accurate and complete records, responding promptly and professionally to client inquiries and complaints, and adhering to all ethical and legal standards.
Some of the allegations that could cost you your license or certification include:
- Mishandling client funds, making unsuitable investment recommendations, making unauthorized trades, or otherwise failing to protect client investments
- Taking illegal kickbacks from third parties, engaging in insider trading, or committing other forms of fraud
- Violating Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and regulations
- Being convicted of any crime, even a non-financial crime
I've been accused of wrongdoing. What happens next?
The financial planner professional license is issued by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and is governed by various state and federal laws.
It is very important that you do not respond to requests from the regulatory agency until you have spoken with an attorney who understands these matters, like Joseph D. Lento.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will review the facts of your case and will help you determine your best course of action. The Lento team will also help you prepare a response to the complaint and will help you gather relevant evidence, draft a formal response, and submit it to the appropriate agency.
Once a response has been submitted, the relevant regulatory agency will begin reviewing the information. The agency may then contact the accused person to request additional information or to schedule a hearing. If a hearing is scheduled, you will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony in your defense. The hearing will be presided over by an administrative law judge, who will make a final determination based on the evidence presented.
If the administrative law judge finds you guilty of professional conduct, you could be fined or have your financial planner professional license suspended or revoked. If that happens, you may be able to appeal the decision to a higher court or regulatory body. However, appealing a decision can be costly and time-consuming and could further damage your reputation—that's why it's critical that you get legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney like Joseph D. Lento early in the process. With the Professional License Defense Team and a good defense strategy, you may be able to avoid a negative outcome entirely.
Why do I need to hire an attorney?
If an allegation of wrongdoing has been made against you, it is critical that you hire an experienced professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. No matter what state you're in—whether it's a big state like California, New York, Illinois, Texas, or Florida, or a smaller state like Vermont, Idaho, or New Mexico—once the complaint has been made, the licensing board will begin actively looking for evidence that will support the allegation. Anything you say or share could be used against you. Unlike a criminal trial, the regulatory board is not obliged to treat you as innocent until proven guilty.
An attorney who understands professional license defense, like Joseph D. Lento, can help you know what to do and not do and help you craft a defense strategy that will lead to the best possible outcome.
The Professional License Defense Team will
- Evaluate the facts of your case and develop an appropriate defense strategy.
- Take on the role of your official legal representative in all correspondence with the board.
- Prepare a persuasive response to the complaint in writing (which could be enough to dismiss the complaint).
- Gather evidence and witnesses to corroborate your side of the story.
- Negotiate with the licensing board at multiple points to have the complaint dismissed entirely or to agree on the penalties most favorable to you.
- Defend you vigorously in a formal hearing if one is called.
What are my next steps?
When you're facing accusations of professional misconduct or malpractice, you need the advice of a qualified, experienced professional license defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team will take proactive steps to make sure you are meeting all regulatory and legal requirements and to mount a strong defense that will yield the best possible results.
You've worked too hard to build your career as a certified financial planner to lose it to allegations of wrongdoing. You don't have to sit back and let this happen to you. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888)535-3686 or online for a case evaluation.