Financial Services


[Video: Co-Chair Alan Wolper explains what it takes to be a successful financial services litigator.]

Ulmer & Berne provides a full range of legal services to its clients in the financial services industry. The firm brings to bear decades of experience and exceptional depth and breadth of financial services expertise. Our attorneys keep current on the problems facing the financial services industry through hands-on projects for a diverse range of clients, including banks, bank holding companies, broker-dealers, futures commission merchants, introducing brokers, trading advisors, mortgage brokers, investment companies, credit card and payment system companies, trust companies, motor vehicle finance companies, thrift institutions, credit unions, and other diversified financial services companies.

Our Financial Services & Securities Litigation Group is national in scope, representing some of the largest and most well-known institutions in the country in broker-dealer, commodities, futures, employment, consumer banking, and self-directed IRA custodian litigation, on matters ranging from FINRA arbitrations, to SEC administrative proceedings, to federal and state court class actions. We regularly counsel institutional and individual clients in financial regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings at the federal and state levels. We also advise financial clients on data privacy and security training and compliance, and handle the regulatory and litigation fall-out resulting from data breaches. In addition to our litigation capabilities, our business attorneys have counseled clients on forming, merging, and acquiring full-service and limited purpose banks, savings associations, and holding companies, and in establishing branches, agencies, and subsidiaries. We have advised clients in successfully developing and introducing a wide array of new financial products and services including fund transfers, electronic payments, payment processing systems, credit and debit cards, and internet-based credit programs.

In this highly regulated industry, it is important to know that your lawyers are familiar with the issues you face. Ulmer & Berne’s litigation and business attorneys in the financial services industry practice concentrate their time and attention on the kinds of crisis you see on a daily basis. Whether your matter involves business issues or litigation we bring together the right skill set to address your unique issues in a cost-effective manner.

Our recent experience includes the following:

  • Litigating all types of financial services matters, including consumer cases, financial privacy, credit reporting, federal preemption, UCC, securities and commodities fraud claims, electronic delivery of consumer financial services, credit discrimination, residential and commercial real estate, secured lending, deposit products, structured products and derivatives, and payment systems.
  • Defending national broker-dealers and futures commission merchants against claims of negligence, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and forgery, unsuitable investment recommendations, unauthorized trading, churning, failure to supervise, and improper margin borrowing.
  • Helping clients to successfully develop and introduce a wide array of new financial products and services including fund transfers, electronic payments, payment processing systems, Internet-based credit programs, credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, prepaid cards, and motor vehicle sale assistance programs.
  • Assisting clients in complying with the full range of financial services laws and regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, as well as the Bank Holding Company Act, the International Banking Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, and many other statues affecting the financial services industry.
  • Advising financial institutions on data privacy and information security requirements and training.
  • Representing financial services clients before federal and state regulatory agencies in response to examination and enforcement proceedings.
  • Counseling clients on forming, merging, and acquiring full-service and limited purpose banks, savings associations, and holding companies.
  • Representing clients in establishing branches, agencies, and subsidiaries.
  • Developing, reviewing, implementing, and maintaining compliance policies, procedures, guidelines, and programs.
  • Assisting clients and their affiliates with compliance audits and training before, during, and after regulatory examinations.
  • Assisting clients with issues surrounding the privacy and security of information and compliance with the full range of federal, state, and international information privacy and data management laws and regulations.
  • Providing corporate governance training and strategic planning assistance.
  • Representing firms and management in employment disputes.

An estimated 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, and this trend is expected to continue for more than a decade.[1] On top of that, Americans are living longer. The average American man or woman reaching age 65 today can expect to live until age 84 or 86, respectively.[2] Legislators and...

On Tuesday, the Senate, with a tie breaking vote from Vice President Pence, voted to block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Arbitration Rule. The Arbitration Rule would have barred companies from requiring consumers to enter into new contracts after March 2018 that contained mandatory arbitration clauses. The CFPB promulgated...

Despite initial criticism, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Arbitration Rule became effective on Monday, September 18, 2017. Compliance with the rule will be required March 19, 2018. While companies will have until March 2018 to comply with the Rule, once a rule goes into effect, the only way to...

From Ulmer’s Broker Dealer Law Corner Blog By Michael A. Gross Michael A. Gross Has FINRA completed its inquiry?* I have fielded this question from multiple registered reps. It is a fair question to ask. It is quite understandable that a rep who is the subject (but feels like the target)...

From Ulmer’s Broker Dealer Law Corner Blog By Gregory P. Stein Gregory Stein Ransomware is hot.  And unlike some trends, it is unlikely to be a short-term trend.  Criminals have been able to easily deploy ransomware attacks, which encrypt a users’ data and hold it hostage until the victim pays a...

Ulmer & Berne LLP partner Frances Floriano Goins was named to the Benchmark Top 250 Women in Litigation. Ulmer partners Paul R. Harris and Joshua A. Klarfeld were included in Benchmark’s Under 40 Hot List 2017. Individual recognition for Goins, Harris, and Klarfeld comes on the heels of Ulmer’s department-wide...

On Monday, the acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Keith Noreika, requested that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) delay publishing its final Arbitration Rule. Noreika requested the delay to review whether the new rule and the threat of increased class actions will present a...

In a recent unanimous decision the United States Supreme Court held  that a company that collects purchased debts is not subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Henson et al. v. Santander Consumer USA Inc. Writing for the Court, Justice Gorsuch focused on the statutory language of the FDCPA...

Cleveland-based counsel Jennifer Monty Rieker was quoted in Law360’s recent coverage of Henson et al. v. Santander Consumer USA Inc. In Santander, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal debt collection laws do not apply to banks that collect on debt that they buy. High Court Leaves Door Open For More Debt Collection Cases...

From Ulmer’s Broker Dealer Law Corner Blog By Jennifer Monty Rieker While most of DC was watching the Comey hearing, the House of Representatives passed the Financial CHOICE Act, which would significantly alter the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The...

In a May 25, 2017 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Opinion and Order dismissing a reparations claim based on statute of limitations grounds. Conway Family Trust v. Commodities Futures Trading Commission, No. 16-3289 (7th Cir. 2017). Notably, the court...

Critics say FINRA proposal on unpaid arbitration awards doesn’t go far enough By Mark Schoeff, Jr., published May 22, 2017 FINRA is under fire from critics who believe the regulatory body did not go far enough to address unpaid arbitration awards with recently announced proposals. Alan Wolper, co-chair of Ulmer’s...

We are now one week into the worldwide cyberattack known as the WannaCry virus, which targets computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems, encrypts their data, and demands ransom payments in Bitcoin currency. Many of the attacks were perpetrated through phishing emails and malicious websites. In response, the SEC Office of...

Boca Raton-based partner Michael Gross will drop by the 4th-grade classes at Crystal Lakes Elementary School in Boynton Beach, FL on Friday, May 19th, to read a book as part of the Teach Children to Save Initiative. The initiative, born from a partnership between the Florida Atlantic University Center for Economic...

The consumer class action landscape changed radically last May following the United States Supreme Court ruling in Spokeo v. Robins that plaintiffs must establish concrete harm and not rely solely on statutory violations to support their standing to sue in federal court. Absent a concrete injury, a party cannot maintain a claim...

SEC Disgorgement Could Face Tough Crowd At High Court From Law360 By Carmen Germaine “Of the cases that are up in front of the Supreme Court, with Gorsuch being appointed, this is not one of the more high-profile cases — there’s many cases that have much more profile and wide-sweeping impacts...

From Ulmer’s Broker Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan Wolper There has been a lot of discussion over the past few years, including in this blog, about the growing – and troubling – trend for Chief Compliance Officers to be named as respondents in disciplinary actions.  While regulators regularly deny...

From Ulmer’s Broker Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan Wolper A common complaint that I hear from broker-dealers and investment advisors is that it is nearly impossible anymore to obtain informal guidance from their regulators. Where it was once possible, even normal, to make a call and get casual advice...

On Friday evening, March 10, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a field assistance bulletin establishing a new temporary enforcement policy for the DOL Fiduciary Rule set to become effective on April 10, 2017. (See here) The temporary policy was designed to deal with industry uncertainty created by a new...

Broker Theft Allegations Lead to Hundreds of Lifetime Bans Danielle Verbrigghe and Billy Nauman for FundFire, March 13, 2017 “Theft or conversion is at the top of the list of things that FINRA enforcement and other regulatory agencies are looking to stop, says Michael Gross, a partner at Ulmer & Berne,...

By Jennifer Monty Rieker Earlier this month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued its monthly complaint snapshot report, which highlights consumer complaints about the mortgage servicing industry. The CFPB publishes these reports on a monthly basis, providing information about complaint volume and listing complaints by industry and state. Through...

The Delaware Supreme Court recently dealt another crushing blow to the Revlon doctrine that had governed review of mergers and sales of companies for decades, making shareholder suits to attack such transactions much more difficult to maintain. In Volcano Corp. Stockholder Litigation, the Court entered a two-sentence opinion on February 9, 2017 affirming...

From Ulmer’s Broker Dealer Law Corner Blog By Alan Wolper I read an article this week bemoaning the fact that “rogue brokers” – a term that is commonly used but steadfastly undefined – apparently remain rampant in the securities industry. Anyone that has read FINRA’s 2017 Exam Priorities Letter knows...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner Blog Author: Frances Floriano Goins On February 3, 2017, President Trump signed a memorandum addressed to the Secretary of Labor directing that the Conflict of Interest Rule Retirement Investment Advice, 81 Fed. Reg. 20946 (April 8, 2016) (the “DOL Fiduciary Rule” or “Fiduciary Rule”) be...

M&A Litigation Lifts Securities Suits To 20-Year High By Chelsea Naso for Law360, published February 1, 2017 The number of federal securities class actions in 2016 rose to its highest level in two decades. A recently published Law360 article examines some of the factors contributing to the new high-water mark, including a steep...

Ulmer & Berne LLP is pleased to announce the additions of George Hicks and Jennifer Monty Rieker as Counsel in its Consumer & Commercial Litigation Practice. Based in Ulmer’s Cleveland office, both attorneys joined the firm from the Cleveland office of Weltman, Weinberg & Reis, Co., LPA. “George and Jennifer...

Following a December 27, 2016, appeals court ruling, financial services industry lawyers may have a new defense against the Securities and Exchange Commission’s increased use of administrative proceedings. Alan Wolper, Co-Chair of Ulmer’s Financial Services and Securities Litigation Practice Group, provided commentary about the recent ruling in an S&P Global Market...

The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released its 2017 Regulation and Examination Priorities letter on January 5, 2017. Alan Wolper, Co-Chair of Ulmer’s Financial Services Practice, is quoted in an article written for Thomson Reuters’ Regulatory Intelligence that focuses on FINRA’s priorities in 2017. Addressing the fact that FINRA’s priorities letter...

Press Release Ulmer & Berne LLP is pleased to announce the promotions of five of its attorneys to partner. They include Daniel Gottesman, Richard Hamilton, Jr., Jesse Lipcius, Brad Sobolewski, and Ulmer’s General Counsel, Kenneth Zirm. In addition, Ulmer also elevated associate Evelyn Holmer to counsel. Lipcius is based in...

From Ulmer’s Broker-Dealer Law Corner BlogAuthors: Michael Gross and Alan Wolper I have blogged multiple times, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, about the slew of Enforcement actions that FINRA has brought for an RR’s failure to update his or her Form U-4 in a timely manner to disclose a...

Ulmer & Berne LLP is pleased to announce that Ronald Betman has joined the firm as Chicago-based counsel in its Business Litigation Practice. A veteran trial lawyer with 30 years of experience in business and financial services litigation, Mr. Betman joins Ulmer from Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, where he...

Alan Wolper provided commentary in a recent RIABiz article focused on BrokerCheck, FINRA’s report card on broker-dealers. In the article “FINRA shifts an unwelcome spotlight away from itself – by training it on the brokers it oversees,” Wolper noted: “Rather than the entity that was created decades ago, which was...

Ulmer & Berne is pleased to announce the addition of three new attorneys in its Cleveland and Chicago offices. Trevor J. Hardy and Adam R. Watowicz join the firm as Cleveland-based associates in the Litigation and Employee Benefits practices respectively, while Denise Fesdjian joins as a Chicago-based Financial Services associate. Trevor...

For the third consecutive year, Ulmer & Berne partner Frances Floriano Goins was named to the 2016 edition of the Benchmark Top 250 Women in Litigation. The annual publication is dedicated to honoring the accomplishments of America’s leading female litigators. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Ms. Goins is one of only...

“Judge clears Equity Trust Co. of wrongdoing in SEC fraud dispute,” Crain’s Cleveland Business July 5, 2016  

Following an eight-day hearing held in Washington, D.C., a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) administrative law judge dismissed the administrative proceedings against Equity Trust Company (Equity Trust),  and found that Equity Trust did not cause the alleged violation of federal securities laws committed by two unrelated parties. Howard Groedel, a...

“Law360’s FINRA Arbitration Survival Guide,” Law360 February 23, 2016

Michael A. Gross, previously Senior Litigation Counsel at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), has joined Ulmer & Berne as a partner. This marks Mr. Gross’s second tenure at the firm, where he worked as an associate before joining FINRA. Mr. Gross will be based in Boca Raton, Florida, Ulmer &...

Ulmer & Berne announces that partner Frances Floriano Goins was selected for inclusion in the 2015 Top 250 Women in Litigation, distributed by Benchmark Litigation, and also has been named a Fellow in The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society of The Litigation Counsel of America. Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation...

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