Stock broker Kevin Wilson of New York, New York is involved in legal disputes with three customers who allege that Wilson made unsuitable investment recommendations to them between 2010 and 2017 while he was registered with the brokerage firm Laidlaw & Company. One of the customers specifically alleges that his account was over-concentrated in an asset class, market sector, or individual investment. The aggregate amount of damages being sought by the customers is close to $3 million.
Stock brokers have a duty to recommend suitable investments and investment strategies to their clients. A recommendation is only suitable if it comports with the client’s investment objectives, risk tolerance, investment experience, investment time horizon, liquidity needs, and income needs. Together these considerations form the investor’s unique “investment profile.” The duty to recommend suitable investments cannot be disclaimed through risk disclosures or waivers.
Over-concentration is the opposite of diversification. The benefits of diversification are well established and have been explained by FINRA as follows:
Asset Allocation. By including different asset classes in your portfolio (for example stocks, bonds, real estate and cash), you increase the probability that some of your investments will provide satisfactory returns even if others are flat or losing value. Put another way, you’re reducing the risk of major losses that can result from over-emphasizing a single asset class, however resilient you might expect that class to be.
Diversification. When you diversify, you divide the money you’ve allocated to a particular asset class, such as stocks, among various categories of investments that belong to that asset class. Diversification, with its emphasis on variety, allows you to spread your assets around. In short, you don’t put all your investment eggs in one basket.