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Award Date: March 9, 2022
Hearing Site: San Francisco, California
Respondent Firm: Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
Claimant Representative: AdvisorLaw
An advisor with over 15 years in the industry was terminated in April of 2021. She hired AdvisorLaw right away to seek the removal of the allegations from her public records.
Upon joining the firm in early 2017, the advisor found it challenging to obtain information from her manager regarding Schwab’s business procedures. In an effort to prevent any compliance issues, she sought insight from others in management. When the effects of COVID necessitated office closures in March 2020, the advisor was required to continue working from the office with approximately four other branch employees, while the majority of her colleagues worked from home.
Around September 2020, a customer who had power of attorney (POA) over her elderly mother’s finances needed to process a transfer form. Covid prevented the customers from visiting the office in person. The customers were not comfortable entering certain personal information on the form or sending the form with that information via mail at the time. They partially completed the transfer form and requested that the advisor finish completing the form over the phone.
The advisor spoke with an operations manager and client service representative about the situation and was informed that completing the form over the phone was permitted, as long as she had the customer’s authorization. The advisor obliged the customers and entered information on their behalf.
In October of 2020, Schwab merged with another firm and soon announced its plan to lay off 1,000 employees. In late February 2021, the firm initiated a confidential investigation into the situation involving the transfer form a few months prior. The advisor cooperated with investigators, yet she was falsely accused of using correction fluid on the form.
Approximately 40% of the individuals in the advisor’s branch office were soon terminated, with no severance or unemployment benefits, for alleged violations of the firm’s workplace behavior expectations policy.
On March 11, 2021, the advisor received the firm’s Key Contributor award for her excellent performance record. Four days later, a manager informed her that her employment was terminated for an alleged, unspecified violation of the behavior policy.
Two individuals with the firm signed documents attesting that they had provided the advisor with permission to complete the transfer form by phone with the customers. Nevertheless, the advisor received a Form U5 termination disclosure alleging that she had not adhered to the firm’s behavior policy when processing client documents.
During the FINRA Dispute Resolution hearing for the advisor’s expungement effort, the advisor provided testimony. AdvisorLaw presented evidence and arguments to illustrate the defamatory nature of the vague and unspecific justification for the advisor’s termination that was publicly published with the disclosure. The Arbitrator determined that the allegations were in fact of a defamatory nature, and she recommended the expungement of all references to the disclosure from the advisor’s records.
Thanks to AdvisorLaw, the disclosure’s damage to the advisor’s reputation has been mitigated, and it will soon be removed from her public profile.
If you’d like to learn more about AdvisorLaw’s FINRA Disclosure Expungement services, please fill out the contact form below. Our consultations are complimentary, and our services were created exclusively for financial advisors.
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