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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12554
Experience:  25 yrs. of experience in employment law, real estate and business law, family law, criminal defense and immigration.
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Can my employer (***** *****, a securities broker-dealer),

Customer Question

Can my employer (***** *****, a securities broker-dealer), prevent me from using my professional designations (CPA), on social- and professional-media websites (Linked-In)?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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Are you under a written fixed term employment contract that prohibits you using your other credentials in social media?
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I found my employment contract. It is not a fixed term contract - it is open ended and "at will". The contract itself does not prohibit me from using credentials in social media. However, it does require me to comply with all firm policies and it lists the sources of those policies quite exhaustively.This particular policy seems to be an overreach into an area where they feel like they have a legitimate interest (i.e. I understand that they monitor and do not want illegal advertising, etc. on employees personal social media pages).I also think the they're overreaching when they say that I cannot refer to the fact that I have a valid CPA license because they consider that too risky. I think they're wrong because the professional societies have made it perfectly clear that simply using the CPA mark on business cards, stationery, etc. does not imply that I'm "holding out" to be a CPA (i.e. advertising that I'm offering services). I'd like to use the mark simply as a symbol of a high level of professional achievement / status symbol, not to imply that I'm offering accounting or tax services.I'm interested to know whether they can really enforce their policy or whether there are precedents where this type of overreach has been curtailed or denied by a court.Thanks again,
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry but I just saw that this is in CA, so I will have to opt out in favor of a CA Employment Law expert.
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Your account hasn't been charged and another expert should be along shortly to help..
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No need to reply as it will only lock the question to me and prevent other experts from assisting..
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK. Thanks.It may be a bit more complicated yet. . . I live and work in California. However, my employer (***** *****) is in St. Louis, MO. My contract indicates that MO law applies.
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, My name is ***** ***** I am another Attorney here on JustAnswer, and would likr to assist you, if I may, 1. What is your title at Edward Jones ? 2. Do you use your CPA background in any of your responsibilities or 1.duties at Edward Jones? 3. What does your position entail, i.e., what are your usual duties and responsibilities ? Thank you and I look forward to your reply,
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1. Title at ***** *****: Financial Advisor (This requires series 7 and 66 securities licenses and state insurance licenses).
2. I do not use my CPA background. However, this is, I think, where my employer perceives risk. CPAs routinely give tax advice as part of their responsibilities. Financial advisors sell investment products. These products have tax consequences so there are frequently "touching points", where a client may inquire about the tax implications of a specific investment. The financial advisor should (and does) refer the client to a competent tax expert.
3. Normal duties and responsibilities are to sell stocks, bonds, annuities, life insurance. This entails meeting with the client to assess their needs and goals, measure their risk tolerance, make recommendations related to suitable investments, explain fees. We also do some projections (e.g. if I save $100 a month for the next 25 years, how much will I have in my retirement account if the annual rate of return is, say, 7%). My compensation is based on commissions on sales transactions and fees for managing investment accounts.I hope this helps. Please do not hesitate if you need more detail.
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your detailed answers to my questions. I fully understand where you are coming from. It’s not everyone who can claim to have passed the multi-part CPA exam and those who do should be able to use “CPA” after their name, at least as a measure of their achievement and competence. In researching the Answer to your question, I found nothing in the law that would prevent you from using the title “CPA”, and the only stumbling block is your employer’s objections, so I looked at the exposure that this particular employer could potentially have if you used “CPA” after your name. I found that your employer’s liability would be minimal, at best. However, I also had to consider an additional factor; we live in a rather litigious society and one in which individuals prefer casting blame on someone else, rather than take responsibility for their own decisions and actions.
You stated that among other things, your responsibilities included selling stocks, bonds, annuities, and other investment products. In order for clients to intelligently consider these investments, they must, necessarily consider the tax implications that a gain or loss will have on their income, and a competent financial advisor would have to discuss these tax implications with the client when making any investment recommendations. Although the final investment decision remains with the client, they seem to forget that fact, if their investment decision did not meet their tax expectations. These are the cases where the client will seek to cast blame on others in order to recoup any negative tax implications which resulted from his own decisions. In these instances, the client often turns to litigation, and names the investment house which sold him the investments. The fact that the client loses his lawsuit becomes almost insignificant when the legal fees the investment house is forced to incur in order to defend the lawsuit.
If I might make a suggestion, set up a meeting with someone in authority at your firm and tell them that you firmly believe that the firm’s exposure would be minimized, if not eliminated completely, if you wrote some type of “Disclaimer” to the client, using variations of the following language -
“Our tax laws are constantly changing and might have different tax implications, depending on your income and tax brackets at the time of your purchase or sale of an investment. It is, therefore, recommended that you consult with your own tax advisor before making any decision on purchasing or selling any investment product.”
Or, something similar in nature.
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ANDREA

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