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I sold some stock in my IRA brokerage account with Vanguard. Everything seems to have gone through fine, but the confirmation states in all caps that "this trade was unsolicited."

I'm just curious about what this means.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Brokers are supposed to (by law) only advise you or suggest to you to make trades that are in your best interest. Many people who don't have time and/or confidence in their own ability to learn about investing and make their own choices, often rely on the broker for advice on what to buy and sell, and when.

If a trade was to go wrong, and it could be shown that the broker did something that was in their interest and not the clients, then the client could potentially have recourse. (for example, if the broker traded in penny stocks when the client had expressed that they were highly risk adverse and it was of primary interest for them to preserve their capital.)

That line is the broker's way of protecting themselves from you coming back later and claiming that "they said for me to get into xyz corp and it was not appropriate and now it's tanked and I have lost everything wha wah wahhhhh" It's saying that they did not approach you and 'solicit' you to do this trade, that you ordered it on your own, and on your own head be it if it later turns out to not be the right thing for you or goes south in any way.

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Good explanation! Thanks Chuck. – Sean W. Aug 12 '11 at 22:59

It means that you decided on your own, no-one from the firm approached you with a suggestion that might have lead to this trade.

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Ah, that makes perfect sense. Thanks! – Sean W. Aug 12 '11 at 22:59

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