Financial Services Professionals

Professionals working in the financial services industry often encounter employment issues, from accepting a new position or promotion, to ensuring they are paid properly and treated fairly and appropriately in the workplace, to leaving a job … voluntarily or involuntarily. Understanding the impact of industry-specific regulations or practices, protecting one’s reputation in U-5 FINRA filings, and navigating federal and state employment laws can be challenging, often placing livelihoods and careers at risk.

The attorneys in Outten & Golden’s Financial Services Practice Group represent executives and other employees working at some of the world’s largest financial institutions, as well as smaller banks, investment firms, and other companies:

  • Investment bankers and executives
  • Traders, salespeople, and analysts
  • Portfolio managers
  • Compliance and legal personnel
  • Hedge fund managers
  • Private equity and venture capital managers and executives
  • Registered representatives/stockbrokers/financial advisors
  • Investment advisors
  • Insurance and reinsurance industry executives

Employment Contracts and Offer Letters

It is a mistake to assume that an employment contract or offer letter contains only “standard language.” When clients in the financial services sector consider new job opportunities, they must understand and, where possible, improve complicated and one-sided documents with provisions relating to:

  • Compensation (including salary, draw, commissions, bonuses, incentives, and guarantees)
  • Deferred compensation
  • Equity awards (e.g., stock options and restricted stock units)
  • Retention and change-in-control arrangements
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure restrictions
  • Non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions
  • Partnership and shareholder agreements
  • Independent contractor arrangements
  • Health insurance and other benefits
  • Dispute resolution (e.g., mediation, arbitration, and court litigation)

Severance Agreements

When financial services employees leave a job, they often are offered (or may seek) severance arrangements or other exit packages. Severance and release agreements may raise issues concerning garden leave/notice requirements, transition period, non-competition or non-solicitation restrictions, bonus pay or other incentive compensation, severance pay, continuation of benefits, and the continued vesting of restricted stock, restricted stock units, various types of options, and other deferred compensation. In addition, such agreements often contain provisions relating to non-disparagement, cooperation, and repayment of loans or promissory notes. Also, registered representatives must consider regulatory disclosures (e.g., Form U-5).

Regardless of your seniority, compensation level, or role in an organization, we can review the details of a proposed severance agreement before you sign, and help you negotiate the best possible arrangement for you and your family.

Employment Litigation

When disagreements or unfair treatment in the workplace turn into serious disputes, Outten & Golden’s seasoned litigators can help you protect and pursue your rights. Whether you seek money damages, restoration of your job or benefits, or challenging restrictive covenants, we will help you develop and implement the best course of action.

Our experience in employment litigation for financial services professionals includes:

  • Breach of contract (e.g., employment agreements, partnership agreements)
  • Unpaid compensation (e.g., salary, commissions, bonuses, and carried interests)
  • Sexual, racial, and religious harassment
  • Discrimination (based on race, age, gender, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity)
  • Whistleblower retaliation
  • Non-competition and non-solicitation restrictions
  • Family & Medical Leave Act violations
  • Tortious injuries (e.g., defamation and tortious interference)

Dispute Resolution – Courts and Arbitration

In many industries, the primary forum for most employment disputes is federal or state court. In financial services, however, most disputes will be resolved through arbitration before such tribunals as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Many disputes are the subject of mediation before or during such proceedings. Our lawyers have obtained successful outcomes* for clients in each of these venues by means of effective advocacy in negotiations and mediations, as well as representing clients in arbitration hearings and court litigation (including appellate/review proceedings) before judges, juries, and arbitrators.

If you are an employee working in the financial services industry and need legal advice regarding an employment issue, please contact us to discuss your situation with an Outten & Golden attorney.

(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)