Apologize, reimburse us for our losses, ensure that client investments are properly managed and protected.
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Why it’s Important: We had a 20-year relationship with UBS (formerly Paine Webber) and had entrusted our life savings to them. UBS’s negligence and incompetence caused us to lose $1.6 million dollars as they insisted on keeping us invested in WorldCom and other technology stocks while WorldCom went bankrupt and technology stocks fell out of favor. To make these stock purchases, UBS encouraged us to buy on margin, to “take advantage of the opportunity to buy these hot stocks”. When we asked UBS to assume some responsibility for what had happened, the relationship became adversarial, forcing us into binding arbitration. Litigation lasted for 10 years, but lies and their team of Ivy League lawyers proved too much for us. In the end, UBS was found guilty and directed to pay only our legal expenses for their wrongdoing, but not a single penny for our $1.6 million dollar loss. Our retirement dreams were shattered. Plans to buy a home for our handicapped son went up in smoke. My wife and I had to return to work.
As to the arbitration process, it was a sham in that an arbitrator’s son worked for UBS and the arbitrator didn’t disclose that fact until the first day of arbitration. While the arbitrator trivialized his son’s relationship with UBS, saying that it was just a part-time clerical position, we later learned that the son became a UBS broker! This was a clear conflict of interest, a father-son relationship, and should have been cause for a new arbitration proceeding. At the very least, the arbitrator should have been dismissed, but UBS refused to address our concerns. Subsequent discussions with arbitrator three revealed that he voted to award damages to us, but was out voted.
The lesson to be learned here is that everyone should, at all costs, avoid investing their hard earned money with UBS or any other huge brokerage firm. Based on our experience, they cannot be trusted, and they really do not care about anything but making money for themselves. One startling revelation we learned is that a broker is not required by law to act in the investor’s best interest. Imagine that! This leaves the door open for them to put their own financial interests ahead of that of the investors. We are now invested with a local financial planner in Connecticut, Robert S Paolucci, CFP, founder and CEO of Principle Wealth Partners, and the feeling is so much different. These people actually care about their clients, they advocate balanced portfolios, and they meet with us every quarter to be sure that our needs are being met. There’s no one at the top telling them to push one stock or another, and no one suggests that borrowing money on margin to buy stocks is a good thing. Another great option is Matsin Money. Check them out at www.matsonmoney.com.
UBS caused us to lose $1.6 million by pushing WorldCom and other high tech stocks, by not paying attention to our retirement and other life changing events, by not requiring that management monitor and review our portfolio, and by not discussing margin and investment risks with us. They failed us in every way, and we want to ensure that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
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