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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

November 8, 2014

“Happiness Letters” – Yet One More Reason You Should Hire a True Fiduciary

The brokerage industry never ceases to amaze in the many ways it puts its own interests ahead of those of its clients. Jason Zweig, at the WSJ’s MoneyBeat, discusses “happiness letters,” wherein brokerages try to cover-their-you-know-whats at year-end for potential misbehavior in an investor’s account.

The bottom line, should you receive a letter from your broker that begins by “thanking you for your business” and then mentioning a periodic review or some such, you should check your statements immediately.  Zweig says it is likely that there has been churning or risk exposures that are perhaps inappropriate. Do not call the broker, but call the branch manager instead and ask to see the data that prompted the letter. Reading Zweig’s column makes for a chilling experience.

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