By all accounts, Peter Eckerline, a lifelong Merrill Lynch broker, Wayzata, Minnesota-based spent the entire duration of his 37 years in the industry with the firm, until August 2021. He is neither an investment advisor nor a registered broker at present. His BrokerCheck record lists 9 customer disputes filed by claimants over the past 20 years, the earliest dating back to October 2001. Most of them appear to charge him with unsuitable recommendations and misconduct. In order of chronology they are listed below:
- October 2001 – $10K claim for unsuitability settled by Merrill Lynch.
- December 2009 – $180K sought in a case alleging unsuitability. As there was no action, the case ended up being closed.
- December 2010 – Another case alleging unsuitability, as well as misrepresentation, was settled for $87K.
- December 2011 – Unsuitability, omissions, and misrepresentation claimed by customer. The case was settled for $295K.
- June 2012 – The client claimed omissions and misrepresentations related to investments that were unsuitable. This was settled by Merrill Lynch for $64,500.
- June 2012 – This dispute accused Eckerline of failure to follow instructions, but was eventually denied.
- March 2016 – The settlement of $275K reached with the customer once again emphasized the importance of making recommendations in line with the customer’s profile, risk tolerance, and investment objectives.
- June 2021 – A customer dispute accusing Eckerline of not acting in their best interests was declined.
- June 2021 – Customer’s contention in this still open dispute is that Eckerline failed his fiduciary duty by not acting in their best interest, particularly with regard to the fee structure and asset allocation and that earnings can be impacted by such conduct.
Responsibility of the broker-dealer
As a representative entity with whom clients associate, broker-dealers have a responsibility to supervise their authorized representatives since they act in the name of the firm. They need to ensure that representatives act in the best interest of the client and are guided by laid down legal requirements and guidelines. This includes taking note of the broker’s record and customer disputes. Failure to do so makes the firm complicit in the broker’s actions and liable for damages.
What should impacted investors do?
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) provides an arbitration route for impacted investors to seek recourse. The broker misconduct lawyers at Haselkorn & Thibaut, P.A., are looking into claims of investment losses sustained by customers of Merrill Lynch financial advisors. Our securities fraud attorneys have been successful in recoveries on behalf of investors from some of the biggest firms on Wall Street.
If you have dealt with either Eckerline or Merrill Lynch and have reason to suspect that you may have been at the receiving end of investment-related malpractices, you are advised to seek expert advice. Contact us today at 1-800-856-3352.