The brokers, Stephen S. Brown and James P. Goetz, were based in
Pittsford, New York, a suburb of Rochester, and managed about $2.5
billion of assets for clients, according to a source familiar with
They were fired on Tuesday, Sept. 9, along with two client
associates. Other members of their team remain, according to sources
in the large office of about 40 individual brokers and teams.
Brown and Goetz, who had been with Merrill since 1991 and 1998,
respectively, according to regulatory records, could not be reached
Selling investments or other products not vetted and processed by an
adviser's employer is known as "selling away" and is a violation of
securities industry rules. All advisers in the Pittsford branch
were, within 24 hours of the departures, summoned to a meeting at
which the seriousness of selling away was explained, several said.
Brown and Goetz continue to be listed as Merrill employees on the
BrokerCheck website of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority,
and on their LinkedIn social networking pages. Brokerage firms have
30 days to update notices about brokers charged with violations or
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Brown and Goetz were members of Merrill's Private Banking and
Investment Group, or P-BIG, which includes about 150 brokerage teams
that focus on ultra-wealthy clients with at least $10 million to
invest. The unit is headed by John Thiel, who also runs the branch
system for the Bank of America Corp subsidiary that employs about
13,845 U.S. brokers.
The pair's dismissal was reported earlier on the "Investment News"
(Reporting By Jed Horowitz and Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Andre
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