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You may have lost money in your investment portfolio,
due to mismanagement and not even know it.

Bad actors in the investment industry: an insoluble problem?

Are there flat-out rogues who are gainfully employed in brokerages and making millions from customers they are inappropriately advising?

Does a jaguar have spots?

We hear a lot these days from securities industry regulators, politicians and watchdog groups about ongoing efforts to clean up fraud and better ensure that good-faith investors in California and across the country are protected from white-collar criminals who seek to bilk them rather than promote their interests.

Unfortunately, and notwithstanding the alleged heightened scrutiny of investment firms and brokerages, we also continue to hear a lot about shockingly egregious conduct engaged in by unscrupulous advisers and brokers solely intent on lining their own pockets while fleecing their customers.

A recent media report spotlights one such character, described as a "smooth-talking securities salesman affiliated with 11 investment firms in 15 years."

Here's a glaring fact about that individual: His chain of employment was never severed, despite his having been fired five times and forced to resign from one company.

What does that say about the effectiveness of broker regulation and policing efforts geared toward protecting the investing public?

According to one recent academic study, it says something quite ominous: reportedly, as many as 20 percent of the brokers employed in the nation's largest investment firms have disciplinary records.

"A lot of these guys are real hustlers," says one commentator.

And, obviously, they are survivors able to land repeatedly on their feet after having been identified as wrongdoers.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority states that it is zeroing in on bad-faith broker behavior. Richard Ketchum, Finra's chief, says that firms having a demonstrated record of hiring problem advisers can expect "searching questions" regarding their supervision of those employees.

How comforting is that, though, given the recurring stories of investors who are defrauded by brokers' criminal behavior?

Ketchum might have added that a "caveat emptor" mindset and attitude must continue to be firmly intact among the investing public. And he might have stated that questions or concerns regarding an adviser in a given case should be conveyed without delay to a proven securities law attorney who advocates on behalf of individual and institutional investors.

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