Investor Alert: Former Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Financial Advisor Thomas Buck

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Erez Law is currently investigating former Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith financial advisor Thomas Buck (CRD# 1024868) regarding excessive trading, misrepresentation and omission of material facts, and unsuitable investment recommendations, and use of discretion in customer accounts. Buck was registered with RBC Capital Markets, LLC in Indianapolis, Indiana from April to July 2015 and previously with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated Indianapolis, Indiana from 1981 to 2015, when he was terminated regarding, “Allegations including failing to discuss service level and pricing alternatives with a customer, providing inaccurate information to firm management during account reviews regarding this issue, mismarking bond cross trade order tickets as unsolicited, and providing information to a client during an active account review that did not correspond to the firm’s records.”

In October 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Buck represented to certain customers with commission-based accounts that the total annual commissions they paid would not exceed certain limits, and then he traded in those accounts and generated commissions that exceeded the amounts he promised. It is alleged that Buck failed to inform the customers that their total annual commissions were exceeding the promised limits, and Buck intentionally failed to inform the customers that a fee-based option could be cheaper compared to the total annual commissions being paid based on trades executed in an account. Buck also exercised discretion by placing trades in the accounts of certain customers without authorization. Buck received more than $2.5 million in excessive commissions and fees from at least 50 retail customers and investment advisory clients in a three-year scheme.

FINRA barred Buck in July 2015 after he consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he willfully committed fraud. It has been reported that Buck’s business generated annual revenues ranging from $6 million to more than $10 million, at least 85% of which was directly attributable to Buck’s individual production. Approximately 80% of the revenues generated by Buck came from commission-based activity; whereas approximately 70% of his member firm’s indiana complex’s revenue was generated through fee-based accounts.

Buck has been the subject of 37 customer complaints between 2006 and 2017, according to his CRD report. Many settled claims were regarding excessive trading, misrepresentation and omission of material facts and unsuitable investment recommendations. Buck has two pending customer disputes:

  • October 2016. “The Customer alleges excessive trading from December 2011 to February 2015.” The case is currently pending.
  • June 2015. “The customer alleges unauthorized trading, misrepresentation and omission of material facts, excessive trading and unsuitable investment recommendations from August 2009 to March 2015.” The case is currently pending.

Pursuant to FINRA Rules, member firms are responsible for supervising a broker’s activities during the time the broker is registered with the firm. Therefore, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith may be liable for investment or other losses suffered by Buck’s customers.

Erez Law represents investors in the United States for claims against brokers and brokerage firms for wrongdoing. If and have experienced investment losses, please call us at 888-840-1571 or complete our contact form for a free consultation. Erez Law is a nationally recognized law firm representing individuals, trusts, corporations and institutions in claims against brokerage firms, banks and insurance companies on a contingency fee basis.

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Author: Jeffrey Erez

The founder of Erez Law, Jeffrey Erez, focuses exclusively on securities arbitration and litigation. Mr. Erez passionately believes in representing aggrieved investors and obtaining justice for his clients through litigation.