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Update - May 2017
June 1, 2017

President's Perspective

This month, I write with concern about an issue that I expected to never see or hear of again. One of our members discovered that an attorney had listed him as an in an upcoming case. This would not be newsworthy, but for the fact that the expert was entirely unaware of the case. This is what is referred to as a “Phantom Retention.” It is an unethical practice, and expressly opposed by FINRA.

The reason that I expected to never again see or hear of a Phantom Retention, is that it is an unethical practice that has been expressly opposed by FINRA. Back in 2014, SER Past President Stuart Ober canvassed our membership and found repeated instances in which attorneys had listed our members as experts on their cases without those experts’ permission or knowledge. This led to a letter to FINRA, asking for FINRA to expressly prohibit Phantom Retentions (for more details see our Advocacy section). FINRA placed this topic in front of its Task Force, which included it in its first set of recommendations. Consequently, FINRA updated the Initial Prehearing Conference script and sent several letters to parties to address this issue. FINRA also published an article on this topic, written by Ryan Bakhtiari and Greg Curley, in The Neutral Corner. Here is a link to the article

That Phantom Retentions continue, despite FINRA’s admonitions, informs me that it is time to once again canvass the membership to find out if anyone else has become aware of being listed in a Phantom Retention since 2014. If so, please contact Stuart Ober at ober@stuartober.com or (845) 679-2300.

I am also interested in potential solutions. Since FINRA has segued to the electronic portal, it seems reasonable to require that experts’ contact information be given to FINRA with the witness list. FINRA could then automatically generate a verification e-mail to the experts listed in each upcoming hearing. This could prevent Phantom Retentions, particularly since experts would report them directly to FINRA. If you have any other ideas or potential solutions, please send them to Stuart as well.

The Securities Experts Roundtable has a long and consistent record of working with FINRA to improve its arbitration process. I firmly believe that FINRA is committed to prohibiting and preventing abuses and unethical practices, and will be open to hearing and acting on our continued input on these matters.  

Respectfully, Jeffery Schaff, President

 

2017 Annual Member Meeting & Conference: July 28 & 29 in Chicago

Registration is now open! Visit the Conference tab or click here for more details and to register.

LinkedIN

Our LinkedIN page is now up to 90 followers.  If you have not done so already, please log in to LinkedIN, find “Securities Experts Roundtable” and click the Follow button.

·         Click here to visit our page on LinkedIN, and to read all of our postings thusfar.

Website Statistics

  • ​March 2017: Unique Visitors – 1,174; Number of Visits – 2,410

 
Update - April 2017
May 1, 2017

President's Perspective

If you have not yet done so, then it is time to mark your calendar for SER’s 25th Annual Meeting and Conference, to be held at the Union League Club of Chicago on July 28 and 29. As those of you who have been to the ULCC know, the facilities are superlative and the room rates are less than most hotels in the area. The ULCC excels in every area, offering a wonderful art collection, grand architecture and fine dining. It has been voted the #1 city club in the US. In short, the ULCC is a welcome and enjoyable location for us to assemble.

As President-Elect, Ross Tulman is in charge of the programming this year. The agenda is close to completion and I am confident that it will be interesting and informative for all. Given the overwhelming response to last year’s Testifying Competition, we plan to include the 2nd annual Testifying Competition. Mike Loconte won last year’s competition, earning him the admiration of his peers and a year’s complimentary membership to SER. Who will win this year’s competition? [Best answer:  Everyone!]

Last year’s annual conference was a smash success, with members citing a wide variety of highlights in their responses to our follow-up survey. As Frank Sullivan summarized:

“This interaction with like-minded members has been the number one reason why I and others attend SER conferences. Experts from around the country with successful practices are the intellectual capital resource that is the heart and soul of SER. Having the opportunity to tap into this well of knowledge is worth its weight in gold and, in my opinion, more than justifies both my annual dues and the registration fee for the conference.”

I agree with that sentiment. Though I enjoy and benefit from the programming each year, that is not my primary reason for attending the annual SER meetings. The presentations provide me with 8-10 hours of valuable continuing education, but the aspect of the conference that I prize the most is the time that I can spend building relationships with other SER members. I have learned valuable lessons from many, many members that make me a better expert and help me to run a better expert practice. I have gotten to know other members well enough to refer cases to, and have received cases in turn. Most of all, I have developed lasting friendships.

I look forward to seeing you in July for this milestone conference. 

Respectfully, Jeffery Schaff, President

 

2017 Annual Meeting & Conference

Save the date! Registration will open shortly. Upon registration you will be able to reserve your room at ULCC ($202.80 inclusive rate). 

July 28th & 29th
Union League Club Chicago 
65 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago

 

LinkedIN

Our LinkedIN page is now up to 89 followers. If you have not done so already, please log in to LinkedIN, find “Securities Experts Roundtable” and click the Follow button.

·         Click here to visit our page on LinkedIN, and to read all of our postings thusfar.

Website Statistics

  • ​March 2017: Unique Visitors – 1,457; Number of Visits – 2,720

 
Update - March 2017
April 3, 2017

President's Perspective

Membership renewal time was a breeze this year. I thank all for their prompt renewal. I must also tip my hat to Rick Ryder and his Website Committee, and to Patti Koetting, for their excellent work in upgrading the members’ login area of our website with new features for making and tracking payments for our dues and conference.

The most recent news on our website, though, is our refreshed homepage. If you have not yet seen it, I encourage you to visit. It includes concise descriptions of our history, membership, activities and leadership. It helps visitors find a directory of our members, and the Find An Expert search function. Most importantly, our new homepage now includes our Mission Statement:

SER provides continuing professional education and promotes ethics and integrity among its members while remaining dispute neutral as an organization.

Our mission statement is our guiding light. It helps to remind us of why we are here and what is important for us to accomplish. Having it on the website allows our visitors to understand our purpose and values as a first impression. Many thanks to Bruce Foerster, Hugh Cohen, Jack Herrmann, Richie Leisner, Ross Tulman and Rick Ryder for their thoughtful wordsmithing.

The next step in improving our website will require a group effort. Our Library area contains many resources of use for our members, broken into the categories of Articles; Notable Cases & Other Investment Related Information; Member Related Documents and Past Conference and Annual Meeting Materials. Our Library is already a good resource, but I suspect that we can develop it into an authoritative mine of expert materials. We all have reference materials that we call upon when working on cases. I ask that every member contribute. First, tour the Library to determine which documents that you feel are missing. Once you have identified material to submit, go to the Email members section and send the documents to the Article Submission Coordinator. Then, check in periodically to see whether any other members’ submissions can be of use to you in future cases.  

Respectfully, Jeffery Schaff, President

 

Annual Membership Meeting and Conference

This year's Annual Membership Meeting and Conference will be held at the Union League Club in Chicago on July 28-29. Save the date. Registration will open in May.

LinkedIN

Our LinkedIN page is now up to 89 followers.  If you have not done so already, please log in to LinkedIN, find “Securities Experts Roundtable” and click the Follow button.

         Click here to visit our page on LinkedIN, and to read all of our postings thusfar.

Website Statistics

 

  • ​February 2017: Unique Visitors – 1,172; Number of Visits – 2,125

 
Update - February 2017
March 1, 2017

President's Perspective

One of the most enjoyable parts of being SER’s President is listening to members share anecdotes of how SER benefits them. These discussions fall into many categories, including how SER membership helped to bring them new engagements. These most often come directly as referrals from other members. Other times, they are the result of members posting e-mails to the membership. Since taking the gavel as SER President last summer, I have seen more than 25 cases announced in this fashion. I follow up with those who circulate cases, and consistently note positive feedback both for the member posting the case and the members who throw their hats in the ring. Two of the most active members in this regard offer their perspectives:

“As you know, I think the ability to cross-refer among SER members is a tremendous benefit. The ability to address the entire membership so easily really lends itself to this type of activity. I have obtained at least one engagement as a result of this activity. I am not certain of engagements that others may have obtained as a result of my postings, but I do know that on several occasions responses from my postings have been provided to retaining attorneys. I like being able to provide value to attorneys, even if I am not the most suitable expert, by providing referrals to an expert who may be the right match. Attorneys seem to appreciate that even though I will not be their expert, that I am willing to attempt to assist them in their search. This process seems to be one in which everyone benefits.”  (Alan Besnoff)

“I wanted to take a moment and personally thank all of you who responded back to me last week about the need for an Expert at the last minute. I probably received emails from about seven of you that were interested in working on this case even at the last minute and your timely responses were greatly appreciated. I promptly sent off each of your respective CV’s to the attorney and he was shocked to see how many highly qualified candidates that I presented to him and he couldn't thank me enough. I told him to keep me on his “short list” for his next case and I am sure he will. For the lucky Expert that was retained, and the name will not be revealed, he too was immensely grateful. This was truly a win-win-win scenario for all of us. There will undoubtedly be times for all of us where there is a potential or actual conflict of interest with the respective parties or our scheduling just doesn't permit us to take on a case, or our expertise or knowledge is marginal at best for a particular case. With that said, I see tremendous value in reaching out to my fellow SER members via a group email, such as the one I posted last week, which was my first.”  (Bob Lawson)

The Securities Experts Roundtable is not a listing organization.  That is not what we are about.   Nonetheless, it is gratifying to see members work with one another for mutual benefit and I laud all those who have circulated case announcements to the membership.

Respectfully, Jeffery Schaff, President

Renewals

Annual membership renewals are now due. Once you log in, you will see the "Pay Dues" button on "Your Account" page. Please renew prior to the March 31st deadline to avoid the $100 reinstatement fee for lapsed membership. 

Annual Membership Meeting and Conference

This year's Annual Membership Meeting and Conference will be held at the Union League Club in Chicago on July 28-29. Save the date. Registration will open in May.

LinkedIN

Our LinkedIN page is now up to 88 followers. If you have not done so already, please log in to LinkedIN, find “Securities Experts Roundtable” and click the Follow button.

·         Click here to visit our page on LinkedIN, and to read all of our postings thusfar.

Website Statistics

  • ​January 2017: Unique Visitors – 1,277; Number of Visits – 2,302
  • The Unique Visitors metric was up 23% in 2015 and 10% in 2016
  • The Number of Visits metric was up 23% in 2015 and 30% in 2016

 
Update - January 2017
February 2, 2017

President's Perspective

Last month’s survey generated great feedback. I thank everyone who participated. I recognize that surveys can seem to be a useless distraction in one’s day, but the information is appreciated and put to good use.  When the SER Board of Directors met this month, we reviewed the survey results and referenced its contents in numerous committee reports and Board votes.

In the collective experience of our Board, supported by the survey results, our annual conference is the greatest source of benefit for SER members. At our conferences, attendees learn ways to improve their expert skills and garner valuable practice management tips. Equally valuable, attendance allows our members to enjoy the benefits of camaraderie and networking. Attendance is an investment in one’s expert business, an investment with far more reliable returns than any portfolio could provide.  After discussing the topic with many members, I can assure all that more cases are referred directly between our members than by membership-wide postings through e-mail.  It is a great group to know, share with and learn from.  In order to encourage first-time attendance, the Board has authorized a $100 conference credit to all members attending an SER annual conference for the first time.

The Board also recognizes that arbitration case filings have fallen dramatically over recent years. This makes it more difficult for Associate Members to cross the twenty-retention threshold to achieve Voting Member status. Therefore, the Board authorized a new path for Associate Members to become full Voting Members. In consideration of the fact that the SER annual conference provides expert education, Associate Members who attend three annual SER conferences over a four-year span will be promoted to Voting Member.

Our Board also focused its attention on our website. Our website receives considerable traffic, with 11,462 visitors last year. Based on member feedback, I am confident that our website succeeds in helping our members improve their visibility with the professionals who retain our services. The website is also useful as a resource for our members. In addition to being the place that members pay their dues and register for the annual conference, we have a robust and growing library of resources. If you have not yet visited our newly remodeled library recently, please log in and see the improvements. We will soon be soliciting additional content, and ask that you consider documents that you have to contribute. Our Board is also currently updating the home page, including the addition of a mission statement. Visit www.securitiesexpert.org to track our progress.

Respectfully, Jeffery Schaff, President

 

LinkedIN

Our LinkedIN page is now up to 84 followers.  If you have not done so already, please log in to LinkedIN, find “Securities Experts Roundtable” and click the Follow button.

·         Click here to visit our page on LinkedIN, and to read all of our postings thusfar. 

Website Statistics

  • ​December 2016: Unique Visitors – 989; Number of Visits – 1,971

 
Update - December 2016
December 29, 2016

President's Perspective

As 2016 races to a close, I find myself reflecting on the year.  It was remarkable, in that seeming impossibilities came to fruition. The DOL’s Fiduciary Rule was signed into law, despite opposition firmly committed to unhinging it. The Cubs won the World Series, breaking a curse and the longest dry spell in Major League Baseball. Donald Trump was elected President, although the New York Times assessed his probability of winning at a mere 5% on Election Day morning. Whatever opinions one has of any of these events, we can all agree that they were dramatic.  

For the Securities Experts Roundtable, 2016 was not dramatic in the least. We enjoyed consistently prudent management of our finances. Our annual conference was a smash hit. Our social media presence is now well established, and our website continues to evolve and improve. Personally, I enjoyed these consistent positives and believe that there has never been a better time to be a member of SER. 

Looking forward, it appears that 2017 will continue our trend of consistent positives. This is not an accidental happenstance, but rather the fruits of your Board’s dedicated efforts to enhance the benefits of SER membership. In order to help us better help you, we need your feedback. You recently received a survey designed to help the Board stay abreast of issues important to our members and to find ways to continue the trend of consistent positives. I ask that you complete and respond to the survey with your most candid and insightful feedback by Friday, January 6. Click here to access the survey. Thank you.

Respectfully, Jeffery Schaff, President

 

LinkedIN

Our LinkedIN page is now up to 82 followers.  If you have not done so already, please log in to LinkedIN, find “Securities Experts Roundtable” and click the Follow button.

·         Click here to visit our page on LinkedIN, and to read all of our postings thusfar. When you "share" SER's posts with your network, you help raise our profile!

Website Statistics

  • ​November 2016: Unique Visitors – 983; Number of Visits – 2,062