Ex-UBS ‘Top’ Ohio Broker Registers as Indie after Unexpected Dismissal
Craig Findley, the celebrated UBS Financial Services broker in Ohio who was dismissed last month, has registered with an independent broker-dealer and investment advisory firm and offered a partial explanation for his dismissal.Findley, who ran a fast-growing three-state team managing more than $6 billion from his base in Toledo and who chaired an internal FA committee advising UBS management, parked his brokerage license last Thursday with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, according to his BrokerCheck history.
He also registered Findley Advisors as an affiliate of PKS Advisory Services, the independent broker-dealer’s RIA, according to Investment Adviser Public Disclosure records.
Findley did not respond to a request for comment left on his cellphone about his business plans, whether he expects any of the more than 30 associates on his former team to join him and whether he will try to clear his name through arbitration. But he added a comment in recent days to his BrokerCheck record admitting to one consequential error.
“I acknowledge that I violated firm policy when I failed to advice (sic) management that my assistant had taken a training module for me. However, I did not intentionally violate firm policy nor was I ever warned, put on heightened supervision or subject to any type of progressive discipline for this action,” he wrote, signaling that he felt blind-sided by the action.
Findley, who was #4 in this year’s Barron’s ranking of top Ohio brokers, did not address other contentions that UBS made in its U5 regulatory discharge form. It said he was let go for violating firm policies “including, but not limited to, those involving training, outside activities and reporting of business travel.”
A person who claimed familiarity with Findley’s situation said he had not directed the assistant to sign the training modules but admits that he stumbled by not informing compliance once he found out. The person said that two senior UBS sales managers tried to interfere on the advisor’s behalf, but were told by compliance that if he were let off the firm could be subject to litigation from others who were let go for similar violations.
Findley’s BrokerCheck comment does not address the “outside activities” that UBS cited or the business travel. The person familiar with the situation said Findley failed to inform compliance in a timely manner of his decision to invest in a pizza venture involving friends who may have been clients. Findley—whose Touchstone Wealth Partners team had offices in Florida, New York City and his home state—also frequently chartered private planes and believes that his errors had to do with “logging” trips rather than false claims, the person said.
Findley’s IAPD record filed with the SEC says he spends about one hour per month helping his wife with “strategic business decisions” involving her Crossleigh Travel/Aircraft “travel agency” business.
Melissa Estrich, a partner at Touchstone Wealth and its former team administrator, left UBS early this month, two weeks after Findley. Estrich, who had previously worked at Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch, as had her former boss, told AdvisorHub two weeks ago that she was not terminated, and there is no mark on her BrokerCheck record of a dismissal.
She could not be reached for comment on Monday.