The Right Expert Can Be the Key to Success

By Jeffrey Hiller

iceberg half submerged in arctic

Finding the right expert witness can have a significant effect on the outcome of your case and the amount of time needed to prepare for and to try the matter.  Knowing what is expected and what makes a strong expert witness can be a key contributing factor in the success of the case.

So, what makes a strong expert witness? 

Obviously, the first requirement is to have an expert in a particular area. It is not enough to have administered policies and procedures. The expert should have specific and extensive experience in the subject matter at issue.

For example, for an insider trading case where the plaintiff is alleging the respondent’s insider trading policy was inadequate, it would not be enough to have an expert with general investment adviser experience.  In this case, the expert should be very familiar with the administration of insider trading polices over a substantial period of time, including experience creating, writing, and implementing insider trading policies.

Once you’ve found an expert, what should you expect?

Initially, that expert will review all documents to determine if they agree with the policy they are being asked to support.

Once the expert is engaged, they will review all documents in order to identify issues, including strengths and weaknesses of the case. An expert usually writes and “Expert Report” that is distributed to all parties, as well as the adjudicating body.  Each venue has its own requirements for an Expert Report. FINRA arbitrations generally require only a high-level summary of the expert’s findings. Courts usually require much more documentation. 

The Expert Report will often include the following:

  • Expert’s academic and background, including education and work experience on the issues presented.
  • Prior testimony and engagements as an Expert Witness.
  • Compensation and the specific materials reviewed.
  • The scope of the opinion.
  • The factual basis for the expert’s opinion and the expert’s conclusions.

The next step is the expert’s testimony at the proceeding.  Depending on the credentials and opinion of the expert, the other side may challenge the qualifications, experience, or soundness of their opinion, among other matters. As a rule, the expert sits in the hearing or proceeding in order to be fully versed on the case. In our experience, experts often seem to testify last, which enables them to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each matter. 

Oyster Consulting’s Expert Witness service is built upon a core team of practitioners including former regulators, experienced attorneys and compliance professionals, and operations professionals. Our consultants are current in their areas of expertise because they provide advice and guidance to clients as they work on engagements.  Oyster also provides review and analysis of claims and defenses, litigation support, evidence review and testimony preparation, and as noted, extensive subject matter expertise in all matters related to broker dealers and investment advisers.  Oyster Consulting has been engaged to provide Expert Witness testimony by Federal Regulatory agencies, and both plaintiffs and defendants.

About The Author
Photo of Jeffrey Hiller

Jeffrey Hiller

Jeffrey Hiller is an industry professional with over 25 years of experience, specializing in Investment Advisor services.  Prior to joining Oyster, Jeffrey was Chief Compliance Officer and Managing Director of Principal Global Investors where he created and managed the firm’s global compliance program. Jeffrey began his compliance career as Senior Counsel in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement in Washington, D.C.