Can Professional Honors, Awards Or Rankings Protect Me From Financial Losses or Securities Fraud?

How significant is your financial professional’s honor, award, ranking or designation? Are these distinctions signs that you’ll be protected against financial losses or financial scams? Unfortunately, no. While such awards can be both relevant and impressive, there’s no guarantee that the broker will provide superior service or is even legitimate.

How can a financial advisor misuse professional honors, awards, rankings or designations?

● The designations might not be real. Technology makes it very easy to create official-looking awards or look-alikes.

● They may be real designations or awards, but the advisor didn’t actually do anything to earn the award or designation.Unfortunately, such rankings mean little if they’re not merit-based.

● The honor, award or ranking might be real, but the advisor used false, misleading or inaccurate information to obtain the designation.

 The financial advisor may have paid a fee to receive the distinction. That’s right! Many designations can be purchased–including from reputable sources such as trusted magazines or associations. Consider the example of Max Tailwager, who twice (in 2009 and 2013) received top financial advisor distinctions from two different publications. Max Tailwager, however, is a dog.

● The geographical range or number of participants is so small, the ranking or honor isn’t as significant as it sounds. This doesn’t mean that small or local awards and rankings aren’t valuable, but it’s more accurate for the broker to inform consumers.

● The award is old and no longer valid. Again, there’s certainly nothing wrong with advisors noting past distinctions, but the facts should be clear. If the designation is no longer relevant, it should be removed.

● The ranking or award required very little to obtain.

For more information on how to evaluate a financial advisor’s distinctions visit any FINRA or SEC database. To verify licenses, registrations and potential disciplinary actions against any advisor visit this FINRA link:, or the advisor’s state regulatory agency.

Link to the SEC ALERT on awards, rankings and other honors::

If you have questions about investment fraud, financial schemes, broker misconduct, or about your broker’s management of your account, please contact our Law Firm at: 313-334-7767 for a Free case evaluation.