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How to Respond to a Subpoena as a Financial Professional

Companies in the financial industry have access to numerous types of client records. Whether you are a CPA, a lawyer or an investment advisor, requests for records can come from multiple sources. What should you do if a request for access to such records? How should you respond to a subpoena?

Summons vs. Subpoena

First, there is a difference between a summons and a subpoena. A summons is an order to appear in court of a civil lawsuit. Typically a summons is issued to the person against whom a complaint has been filed.

A subpoena is similar, but generally requires you or your company to provide information or a record for a court case. You may or may not be directly involved in the case when receiving a subpoena, unlike a summons.

How to Respond to a Subpoena

If you do in fact receive a subpoena, don’t be alarmed. While it can seem daunting, it is a normal aspect of working in the financial industry.

  1. Consult with an attorney. First consult with an attorney and your professional liability insurer before contacting a client or responding to the request. This will ensure that the subpoena is valid and any limitations on sharing the information are fully understood and addressed.
  2. Analyze the subpoena. Let your attorney identify where the subpoena came from and determine if a response is required. Your company and attorney should also determine exactly what records are covered in the subpoena.
  3. Do you possess the information? After you have consulted with an attorney, move forward and gather pertinent information to the case in question. Do not volunteer information outside the scope of the subpoena.
  4. Notify the client. Notify your client whose information is being subpoenaed and discuss the scope of the request.

While subpoenas are often common in the financial industry, it is important to protect your business and career where you can. At Lockton Professional, we offer superior Professional Liability Insurance coverage to protect your assets from claims stemming from rendering professional services.


Coverage may not be available in all states and is subject to actual policy terms and conditions. Coverage may be provided by an excess/surplus lines insurer which is not licensed by or subject to the supervision of the insurance department of your state of residence. Policy coverage forms and rates may not be subject to regulation by the insurance department of your state of residence. Excess/surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds and therefore insureds are not protected by such funds in the event of the insurer’s insolvency.