UBS Calls Offsides on Broker Who Specializes in Pro Athletes-Source
(Updated with comments from Smith’s lawyer.)
UBS Wealth Management USA has parted ways with an Atlanta broker who flaunted his high-profile client list of professional athletes but may have withheld information about a client relationship from his employer, according to people familiar with the dismissal.
Bruce D. Smith, who had led a four-person team called The Sports Consulting Group, left the firm abruptly on Tuesday, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. UBS was believed to have been investigating several issues, including a vacation that the 18-year veteran may have taken with a client in violation of company policy, two sources said.
“Smith’s offense was relatively minor and UBS overreacted in firing a long-time and successful FA,” said Rogge Dunn, a Dallas-based lawyer who is representing Smith.
The broker stumbled as a result of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of an accounting firm used by one of his clients, Dunn said. Smith was interviewed by the regulator but did not mention the trip he had taken with the client, an oversight that UBS considered cause for dismissal, he said.
A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment on Dunn’s remarks.
Smith’s team, which includes former National Football League Pro Bowl running back Ronnie G. Brown, remains at the firm, a person answering the phone at his old UBS office confirmed. None of the other members are financial advisers, according to the team’s website.
While pro athletes can be attractive clients for financial advisors who are eager to manage large amounts of often newfound wealth, they also present challenges and a disproportionately high amount of complaints about mismanaged funds.
Smith, who began his career with PaineWebber in 1991 and rejoined its successor firm UBS in 2012, provoked one published complaint, a 2012 allegation from an unnamed client of unsuitable investment recommendations and selling away, according to his BrokerCheck history. The $2 million claim was settled for $666,000. Smith commented on his regulatory record that the client was upset by an investment that was promoted by the client’s former college football coach, not by him, and noted that he did not contribute to the settlement.
When Smith joined UBS six-and-a-half years ago from Merrill Lynch, he had $1.95 million in production and was overseeing around $100 million in assets, according to published reports.
His Instagram page features photos of the bespectacled broker with an array of muscled young clients, including Boston Celtics point guard Terry Rozier and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns.