RayJay Told to Clean Million-Dollar Broker’s Termination Record
When Raymond James Financial Services recruited Merrill Lynch broker Michael Jeppson to its independent channel in 2017, it flaunted his $1.8 million production and $400 million in client assets.
Two years later it fired him for taking client information from Merrill “that exceeded the scope of the Broker Protocol” and for skirting the truth when asked about it, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Jeppson, now a registered investment adviser with tru Independence Asset Management, got some vindication last week. A three-person arbitration panel in Los Angeles said Raymond James should record his departure as “voluntary” and expunge any mention of the reason for his termination.
RayJay’s Form U5 termination report was “defamatory,” the arbitrators wrote in the Finra award document, without providing further explanation for their decision. (Both parties must request explained decisions in Finra forums.)
Although Jeppson won expungement, the arbitration document hints at the tortured path brokers risk when changing firms without proper guidance.
Merrill launched its trade secrets, breach-of-contracts complaint against the broker and Raymond James on February 21, 2017, the same day he officially left the wirehouse. It sought to enjoin them from using the client information he allegedly took, asking for compensatory and punitive damages, lawyers’ fees and costs.
Over the next two-and-a-half years, Jeppson counter-claimed against Merrill for $3.4 million plus punitive damages, fees and costs.
RayJay cross-claimed for denial of Merrill’s claim and Jeppson (this February) sued RayJay for expungement and for unspecified damages. Jeppson’s claim against Merrill alleged that he had a “carve-out” agreement related to the Protocol, according to the expungement award document.
In May of this year, all parties settled their claims and counterclaims, leaving the arbitrators solely to determine the expungement request, which neither RayJay nor Merrill opposed. The award document did not address the settlement amounts or outcomes, but Finra’s dispute resolution office in July denied Merrill and Jeppson’s request for entry of a stipulated award.
“Justice was done,” said David Harrison, the Beverly Hills lawyer who represented Jeppson and who declined to comment further on the settlements or on Jeppson’s current practice.
Jeppson, who has given up his broker registration and who operates Jeppson Wealth Management as an affiliate of tru Independence, did not return a call for comment.
“The concerns that led to the initiation of the arbitration were resolved as a result of the settlement,” a Merrill spokesman said in a statement.
Spokespeople for Raymond James did not return a request for comment.