Zamansky LLC announces that it has commenced an investigation of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. (“Merrill Lynch”)over its treatment of departing financial advisors’ deferred compensation under its Financial Advisor Capital Accumulation Award Plans (“FACAAP”), Long-Term Incentive Compensation Plan for Managers and Producers (“LTICP”), Growth Award and Wealthbuilder plans (together, the “Plans”). This investigation concerns former Merrill Lynch financial advisors who were terminated without cause or who voluntarily left the firm after the September 2008 merger announced with Bank of America, and who forfeited vested stock or compensation under the firm’s deferred compensation plans.
Former Merrill Lynch financial advisors may have rights to deferred compensation under the Plans that was wrongfully denied to them. A recent FINRA arbitration panel found that Merrill Lynch wrongfully denied two financial advisors of approximately $5 million of their deferred stock and compensation. The Arbitrators found that Merrill Lynch had denied these two financial advisors their right to a review of whether they had a “good reason” to leave the firm. If a financial advisor had a “good reason” to leave the firm, then he or she had the right to receive the vested portions of their stock or other deferred compensation under the Plans. Merrill Lynch was required to perform a “good reason” review but failed to do so. A financial advisor may have had a “good reason” to leave if any portion of their expected compensation or terms of employment changed such as inconsistent or different duties, reduced compensation, location change, reduced bonus or other change.
A FINRA arbitration panel found that Merrill Lynch’s “Good Reason Committee” was a complete “sham” and that it only issued denials to departing financial advisors. The Panel found that there was no credible documentation of protocol for making decisions, or any reasons or guidelines for its decisions. The Panel stated that it was “shocked that although over 3,000 Financial Advisors left the employ of [Merrill Lynch] after the change in control, not one claim has been approved for vesting for ‘Good Reason’”. Merrill Lynch had internal predictions that its exposure would range from hundreds of millions to several billion in potential liability.
Learn Your Rights
If you were a former Merrill Lynch financial advisor who left the firm after the merger announcement either voluntarily or in a termination without cause, and you lost deferred compensation under the Plans, please contact our firm for an evaluation of your rights. You can contact Jake Zamansky by telephone at (212) 742-1414 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also fill out the online Merrill Lynch contact form below: