In a prior post, I discussed the traps that people fall into when it comes to email. One of the areas of greatest concern for me when I defend brokers and investment advisors are the emails that are generated immediately after a complaint (particularly an informal one) is received.
It goes without question that the broker/advisor will be upset when a customer makes a complaint. That is, however, no reason to lose your discipline when reporting to compliance/legal about the complaint.
For one, never bad mouth or editorialize about a complaining customer. Fight the natural reaction of wanting to call the complainant a pain, crazy, an idiot or anything in the pejorative. Those emails may be subject to discovery and will be used against you to demonstrate that you did not have the customer’s best interests in mind.
Once a complaint is made, email about the customer should only be used to forward information, without additional comment. Any debriefing about the customer should be in person or on the phone between you and your compliance/legal team.
If email is necessary to explain what happened, that email should be forwarded to someone in your legal team, which can improve your ability to assert the attorney-client privilege or work product to avoid producing that email in discovery. If you do not have a legal team, you should avoid creating these types of emails as they may not be protected from discovery.
Dealing with customer complaints can be an arduous process. Do not make a worse with loose emails after a complaint is received.
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