Authors: Dale Ledbetter and Connie Becker

Publisher: Lei Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-9678769-1-7

It is no easy task to craft a specialized book that is simultaneously engrossing and reader-friendly concerning the multitude of obstacles faced by the average investor when dealing with brokerage and investment firms. And that is exactly what Dale Ledbetter and Connie Becker have accomplished with their How Wall Street Rips You Off and what you an do to defend yourself.

Ledbetter is an attorney specializing in securities litigation and with his more than forty years of experience has become a leading investor advocate. As mentioned in his bio, he is a national leader in the battle against the injustice that investors endure when interacting with brokerage firms. Becker has worked as a paralegal for almost twenty years, mostly in securities litigation and is a team member of Ledbetter & Associates, PA. She has played an important role in hundreds of securities arbitration cases. Drawing from several court decisions and adjudications rendered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which is a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) as well as investor horror stories, the authors keep their readers turning the pages.

The book's twelve chapters explore the assortment of booby traps faced by the average investor when transacting with brokerage and investments firms or as the authors bluntly state, how investors are ripped off by Wall street. As noted in the introduction, the book's three main objectives are:

1) To explore the ways in which investors are taken advantage by brokers or dealers registered with FINRA.

2 To debunk the myth that FINRA is working in the best interests of the investor against negligence and abuse committed by brokers and dealers.

3) To present various steps to the investor to defend themselves against these unscrupulous profiteers.

It is quite an eye-opener to read the first chapter as to how important are the account opening documents investors are called upon to sign and why we should never sign blank documents even though we may trust the broker or investment dealer. As is the case with any other legal document where we must adhere to the well-known principle, buyer beware, investors are counseled to understand every word and paragraph, to always provide complete and accurate information, to bear in mind that your broker is first, and foremost, a salesperson, and broker dealers are not going to take responsibility for your losses unless they are forced to do so. As the authors state: “Errors or omissions in the account opening documentation can give a brokerage firm carte blanche to run amok in the investor's account.” Moreover, investors should clearly understand that the primary goal of brokerage firms is to make money and not in protecting investors. Consequently, it is vital that you accurately provide in writing everything you expect from your investment account and your brokerage firm and what are you investment objectives and risk tolerance that are right for you. Above all, never permit brokerage firms to make your decisions. It should be noted, as pointed out by the authors, the first exhibit presented by the defense in most arbitration cases is the account opening agreement.

The remaining eleven chapters are likewise packed with sage information and directives dealing with how brokers use mutual funds to cheat investors, misusing annuities, understanding the sub-prime debacle, the great Collateralized Mortgage Obligation (CMO) heist, structured finance securities, pension funds, what is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), investor bill of rights, forty-one steps to financial self-discipline and becoming a FINRA Arbitrator.

One of the shortcomings of this book is the absence of an index and the importance of exchange- traded Funds (TFS) as distinguished from mutual funds. Nonetheless, the authors have still accomplished what they set out to do and have produced a first rate exposé laying out vital information to which all investors should pay strick attention before opening up an investment account.

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