Thursday, June 13, 2024

TD Bank Sues Raymond James, Ex-Employees for Stealing Clients


TD Bank accused several former advisors who bolted for Raymond James of breaking non-solicitation vows and attracting clients with about $22 million in assets to leave with them. The bank asked federal courts to approve a restraining order against the former employees.

TD Bank and TD Private Client Wealth filed their complaint and temporary restraining order request in Connecticut federal court this week. They named the advisors Brett Bartkiewicz and Greg Desmarais, Raymond James and Crescent Point Private Wealth, the affiliated firm the duo joined, in the suit. 

Bartkiewicz’s career in the industry dates back to 1994. According to SEC records, he worked at Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, Fisher Investments and Mercer (among others) before joining TD Private Client Wealth in 2016. Desmarais joined the firm in 2011, according to the complaint.

TD Private Client Wealth argued in the complaint that as a condition of their employment, Bartkiewicz and Desmarais signed agreements to maintain the bank’s confidentiality and trade secrets and that for 12 months following the end of their employment at TD Private Client Wealth, the advisors wouldn’t “contact, call upon or solicit” any client to lure their business from the bank.

However, according to the complaint, on April 25, both advisors “abruptly” resigned from TD Bank. Soon after, the duo joined Raymond James Financial Services with Crescent Point Private Wealth as “family wealth advisors.” 

Crescent Point, based in Glastonbury, Conn., is an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, the company’s existing corporate RIA.

But since they resigned, TD Private Client Wealth “received information” that led them to believe the two advisors were contacting TD Private Client Wealth customers directly and offering “significant fee discounts or product deals” to entice them to move their business to Raymond James.

“In their positions as Private Client Investment Advisor and Relationship Manager, both men were intimately familiar with TD Bank’s fee structure, including the fees that were charged to specific customers,” the complaint read.

In one week after the advisors left, TD Bank lost at least 10 accounts totaling more than $22 million in value. The bank hypothesized the duo solicited at least 12 TD Private Client Wealth clients after they resigned and offered some of them significantly reduced rates to attract them to Raymond James (in one case, offering a 15% reduction in fees, according to the complaint).

Representatives from Raymond James did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

In February, J.P. Morgan also sued a former employee for jumping to Raymond James and soliciting clients in violation of their alleged restrictive covenants. According to that suit, Matthew D. Sitarski worked as a bank branch advisor in Ann Arbor, Mich., but attracted nearly $4 million in business after leaving for Raymond James (the parties are currently in FINRA arbitration).



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