What does a stockbroker do? Stockbroker duties and responsibilities include engaging in fair dealing, disclosing all relevant information about a recommendation, and receiving your authorization before implementing a trade. Additionally, they are expected to make suitable recommendations based on your financial situation and goals.
When it comes to legal duties from your broker or financial adviser, the analogy I usually use is a used car salesman. If you go buy a used car, he has no duties to you whatsoever. He has no obligation to find out what kind of car is appropriate for you. He can sell you a Ferrari or a station wagon. And it's buyer beware, you know, and everybody knows that.
But when it comes to your broker, it's different. This person is offering you financial advice, and so the laws reflect that your broker has a duty, at the very least, to make only what are called "suitable recommendations" for you, meaning if a station wagon is appropriate for you, he can't be trying to sell you a Ferrari in that situation. And so, in other situations, they have what's called a "fiduciary duty" and it's certainly been a hot topic on the news about the difference.
But at the end of the day, whether it's a broker or an investment adviser who has a fiduciary, they have to make recommendations that are in the investor's best interest and that are really suitable for that investor's needs, risk tolerance, and time horizon for their investing. And if they breach that duty, even if they don't do it to be mean or to be a fraudster or to steal from you, it's still a violation of their duty of care, and you still may have a claim against them.