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Copyright 2OQ7Dow Jones ti Company, All Rights R,eserved
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Saturday/Sunday, July 28 29, 2007



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$y Jeff D. Opdyke And Susanne Craig

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HE HARDEST ThVIE to reach your broker might be when you need him the most, Louisiana school bus driver Martha Dickson was returning from her morn rng route on a difficult trading day m 2001 Womed that her and her bus band s life savings would be hit she says she called her Morgan Stanley broker several times Instead she says her calls went right to his assistant who assured her everything was fine. Whether caused by international turmoil or a market selloff like happend on Thursday and Friday, hivestors can, on occasion, find themselves unableto trade because online electronic systems are overloaded, or because their broker is suddenly- unreachable by phone , -

Ms. Dickson eventually cultivated a relationship with another more-responsive broker who worked in the same office as her bro-* ker and shifted her business to -c'. him. The Dicksons also filed an arbitration claim against Morgan Stey, lining '' H I' the firm gave Hc.. to ensure your them fraudulent investment adtrd gets made: vice. A Morgan Be read to Stanley spokes' alternate 'tradin man says allegachannel that " our tions the Dickfirr' y ifer sons couldn t reach their ce-igi Set up a stop-loss nal broker are order t-eed of b ase less Some time to t rade one was always utoi'ntically. available to i cuss client conaa urach in L cerns . " :




At a time

when stock prices are sinldng and trading activity surging-and investors are flooding brokerage firms with sell orders-what's an investor to do? In an electronic age, orders left, on voice mail or delivered by email or fax would seem to circumvent any potential roadblock. Only, they don't. Brokerage firms generally won't accept such orders because firms can't guarantee when a brokur th11 get around to checlong such messages on a busy day.

The key to getting your orders into the system: Know all of the channels your brokerage firm offers. For most firms these days that means online trading, interact ive vo i ce- b ase d t ra ding on the phone, toll-free customerservice phone numbers ,- and , increasbigly, access via wireless devices like BlackBerrys. But each of these may require a password or different phone numbers , and investors need to have that information at hand. If you're away from your cornp uter and you can't reach your broker on the phone, call another branch in anothercity or state; they should be able to assist. You can also protect yourself E'Trade and Morgan Stanley say clients may want to consider setting up standing stop-loss orders that will automatically implement pre-existing sell orders when a particular price tar get is reached This way even if the market is tanking and you cant get through your orders will be executed Joseph C. Peiffer, a New Orleansbased lawyer who represents custom ers with complaints against Wall Street firms, says it's unusual for investors to bring a case of negligence simply because they couldn't contact a broker on the phone. However, that comp'aint is a familiar refrain with clients who've lost money, and it's often an element in nlost of the cases he has handled. "Brokers are always happy to talk when things are going up, " he says. "But market drops expose other problems in a customer's portfolio, and often the broker just won't get on the ph.i when that hapuens."