When you are faced with a customer complaint, the single most important thing in my expense is the content of the file. If it is not there, it will not exist in the mind of the factfinder. If it is there, the so-called “film” generally does not lie.
Over the years that I have defended brokers and investment advisors, I frequently hear things along the line of, “I really talked with the client once a week”. Yet, in many instances there is nothing in the file, such as contemporaneous notes or a follow-up email or letter, to substantiate this claim.
Factfinders sometimes are of the mind that the calls never happened if the “film” is not there. So what should you do to avoid this unfortunate prejudice at the time of a trial?
For one, slow down. In this age of multitasking and instant messaging throughout the day, don’t forget a little CYA may go a long way.
After any communication you have with a client, make a brief note of the call electronically or, dare I say, hard copy form. Send an email to the client confirming the substance of the call, or send a letter.
Taking these simple steps serves two purposes. First, it gives you some (better than none) protection if you are ever questioned about advice you may have given to a client. Second, it protects the client from themselves. If you confirm what the client agreed to, for example, that same client will be hard-pressed to legitimately complain and, at the same time, has a reference for what you are doing with the client’s account.
Take your time, Take notes, or confirm discussions in writing. Taking this simple step may mean all the difference to successful defense.*
* photo from freedigitalphotos.net