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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > FINRA

Wells Fargo Grabs Morgan Stanley, Merrill Reps as Raymond James Nabs UBS Team

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Wells Fargo (WFC) has added nearly $900 million in client assets by picking up two advisors from Morgan Stanley (MS), one from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAC) and one from Janney Montgomery Scott. Meanwhile, Raymond James (RJF) recruited a team with about $300 million in assets from UBS (UBS).

Richard J. Bernstein joined Wells Fargo in Incline Village, Nevada, from Morgan Stanley, where he managed more than $425 million in client assets.

Bernstein has been in the business since 1983, when he cut his teeth at Merrill Lynch. He later moved on to Bear Stearns (’85-’88), Prudential Securities (’88-’92), Salomon Smith Barney (’92-’03), UBS in Beverly Hills, California (’03-’09) and then Morgan Stanley in Beverly Hills, according to FINRA records.

Ellen Cleary also moved to Wells Fargo from Morgan Stanley. The 30-year industry veteran is based in Alexandria, Virginia, where she manages more than $168 million in client assets. She cut her teeth at Acacia Equity Sales, Laidlaw and Adams & Peck before joining Morgan Stanley in 1980.

Charles Guilbault moved to Wells Fargo Advisors’ Metairie, Louisiana, office from Merrill Lynch, where he managed $100 million in assets. He has been in the business for 12 years and first worked for IDS Life and American Express, before joining Merrill in 2005.

Doug Walters joined Wells Fargo in Saratoga Springs, New York, from Janney, where he managed about $202 million in assets. With has 20 years of industry experience, including time with Barber & Bronson, Raymond James & Associates, Wachovia and Janney.

Raymond James’ News

Raymond James says it added a team of three advisors to its employee broker-dealer in Northern Vermont: Alex Bryan, CFP; Ryan Bartley and Robert Torney of Catamount Financial Advisors.

The group has about $300 million in assets and yearly fees & commissions of $2.2 million.“We are excited to welcome Alex, Ryan and Robert to Raymond James,” said Dominic Prioli, Northern regional director for Raymond James & Associates, in a statement. “With almost 50 years of combined experience and commitment to a long-term, client-first approach, they are a great addition to our firm. We look forward to supporting them as they continue to grow their business and further our firm’s expansion in the Northeast.”

Bryan has 33 years in the business and has worked for E.F. Hutton, Shearson Lehman, A.G. Edwards, McDonald Investments and UBS.

“The financial landscape is changing, and changing quickly,” said Bartley, in a press release. “We sought out a firm that was well positioned to meet today’s challenges and steeped in a culture that understands our business model and values. We fully appreciate the depths of resources Raymond James offers, from lending services and trusts, to financial planning and investment management. We were excited to discover the customizable marketing services, including integration of social media and the higher level support we need to run our practice in a manner that is in the best interest of our clients.”

Batley began work in the business in 2001 at Morgan Stanley and then moved on to McDonald and UBS. Torney began work as an advisor in 2012 at New England Securities and moved to UBS in 2013.

FINRA Records

The regulatory group’s history of Bernstein includes six disclosures in 1992, 1994, 2008 and 2009; he was asked to pay four damage awards/settlements totaling close to $178,300, though he disputed the merit of the four awards and denied all charges.

In the first case, Bernstein said “to my knowledge there has been no complaint filed,” according to FINRA records. In the second, he explained to regulators that the portfolio involved “was investment grade “and that client] admitted all trades were authorized in hearing. Losses in account were solely from higher rates in 1994. This arbitration panel excluded key evidence … [and] it should be noted [that] Smith Barney Branch Manager failed to respond to client’s initial complaint … and repressed [advisor’s] response…”

The third complaint was tied to auction rate securities. “The firm agreed to repurchase the ARS securities at issue at par value from the client pursuant to a global repurchase agreement … This was not a settlement of a dispute between the client and the [advisor] ….[who] did not make any payments to the client …,” the advisor’s FINRA records state. In the fourth complaint, a client’s attorney alleged the advisor “failed to follow his client’s instructions to liquidate” accounts as directed. Close to $8,000 in damages were granted, while about $8,510 were denied.

Cleary’s FINRA records include one customer dispute in 1997, which was denied.

As for Walters, his FINRA records include four disputes: Two were settled for a total of $65,000 in 2000, and two were denied in 2000 and 2001. In one case, the client alleged the advisor and another FA made trades without prior authorization starting in September 1999; $5,000 was requested and $25,000 was awarded. Bernstein said he did not handle the account until February 2000 and that the other FA left the industry in late-January 2000.

“I believed the trades I made on July 18, 2000 were in line with the proposals [the other FA] had made. In retrospect, I now realize that I should have contacted the client directly. All trades have been busted at not loss to the client,” Walters said in the FINRA records. In the second case concerning unauthorized trading, the client requested $85,000 in damages and was granted $40,000.

Bartley settled two client disputes for a total of nearly $2 million (in 2011 and 2012), while with UBS. In one case, a client alleged “misrepresentations in connection with investments in a covered-call writing program,” the FINRA records state. The advisor says the allegations were “without merit and I deny them in their entirety.”

In the second case, in which nearly $1.1 million out of a request for $1.6 million was awarded, the client alleged misrepresentation, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract “and that recommendations made to her were unsuitable,” according to the FINRA records. The associated timeframe was late 2009 through July 2011.

The advisor again responded that the allegations were “without merit and I deny them in their entirety.”

— Check out Wells Fargo, LPL, Raymond James to Repay $30M to Charities, Retirement Plans on ThinkAdvisor.


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