Not too long ago, I tried a case that had, among other issues, the improper use of the advisor’s personal email account. That improper use serves as a valuable lesson of what can go wrong when you deviate from using the firm approved email.
The client emailed complaints about the handling of the account to the advisor’s personal email address. In hindsight, the client appears to have done so to manipulate the situation. He was successful.
The advisor responded from his personal email without forwarding the complaint to the compliance department. Compounding that issue, the email he sent was construed to contain admissions of wrongdoing. We lost the trial.
The reasons are obvious why personal email should never be used for business purposes. For one, there is no oversight. Second, it can and will put you in an awkward position vis-à-vis the client and the firm.
What makes this situation even more pronounced is the reason why the advisor gave the client his personal email address in the first place. The client would not stop sending hardcore porn and racist humor to the company email address.
From my perspective, this was a client (regardless of account size) who had trouble written all over him. Rather than report the client and take some more drastic action (such as firing the client or barring the use of email), the advisor took an easy way out and paid dearly for that mistake.
Don’t give your clients your personal email address. If you do, report anything in the nature of a complaint to the firm before trying to respond. It is better to take the heat over using personal email than possibly admit to liability. Don’t get caught with your pants down!*
* photo from freedigitalphotos.net