Former Merrill Edge adviser accused of misleading customers
Finra said the adviser misled five IRA customers and then did not give an honest account of his actions
By Tanvi Acharya
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. accused former Merrill Lynch adviser of allegedly misleading five clients with individual retirement accounts at the firm by providing incorrect information while making recommendations.
Landon L. Williams, who is currently not registered as a Finra member, also “made false statements about what he discussed with and disclosed to the customer” in his notes, according to the complaint filed Thursday.
Mr. Williams was an adviser at Merrill Lynch Edge Advisory Center, which serves customers with $250,000 or less in their accounts, according to the document. At Merrill Edge, clients are not assigned particular brokers but rather a team of advisers that work in a call center.
During the last few months of his year-long employment, which ended in August 2014, Mr. Williams misled customers when making recommendations, as in case of a customer who was told that the annual operation expense of a fund was 1.113% while it actually was 1.28%, according to the document.
Another client was told that she would make up the cost of a front-end sales charge of a fund in three years while Mr. Williams indicated in his notes that it would take her seven years, the complaint alleged.
When Mr. Williams was questioned by his manager about some of the recommendations, he did not give an honest account of his interactions with the customers, according to the complaint.
Finra’s Department of Enforcement has requested the panel to impose monetary sanctions.
Mr. Williams could not be immediately reached for comment on Finra’s allegations.
The team of investment fraud lawyers at Starr Austen & Miller LLP fights for the protection of investors and handles cases involving securities arbitration misrepresentation, overconcentration, broker fraud, negligence and breach of trust.