The short answer to this question is a very large, NO!

All too often in my defense of registered representative and investment advisors do I see a completed account application as the only indicia of the performance of a know your customer analysis.  From my perspective and years of experience, the account application is only the floor, not the ceiling for the know your customer analysis.

Clearly, the account application is a necessary tool in the information gathering process, but checking off boxes does not give you the whole picture.  What I have found most defendable is where the advisor had his or her own checklists to ensure that they adequately know their customer.

For example, many times account applications do not take into account situational issues that may impact an investment strategy.  Does your customer have dependents?  Does your customer have health issues that would require immediate liquidity needs? Does your customer plan to retire in their near or long-term?

Account applications can never answer all of these questions, but my know your customer guidebook may help you with this information gathering process.  It is impossible to truly “know” everything about your customer, but the question in any lawsuit will be did you do enough for that customer and that investment.  A file full of things that reflect a know your customer analysis is much easier to defend than one with only an account application, which was hopefully not completed in blank.

Take your time, and go beyond the account application.  Ask the tough questions.  Push for answers.  Know your customer, and avoid the risk of a customer complaint.