Edward Jones is seeking a temporary restraining order against a Henderson, Nev.-based advisor who left the firm to join Ameriprise Financial. According to the complaint, Michael Peterson was employed with Edward Jones’ Henderson branch office till he “resigned without notice on October 25, 2019.”
Prior to Henderson’s resignation, Edward Jones’ Henderson branch served $100 million in client assets, court documents state.
“As of November 6, 2019, 31 accounts, representing 11 households and over $15 million in assets, have indicated that they will be transferring to Mr. Peterson at Ameriprise,” Greg Gonzalez, another financial advisor at the same branch, said in a declaration attached to the Edward Jones complaint.
Gonzalez’s declaration also states that Peterson sent paperwork for transfer to Ameriprise to at least 15 clients and 11 of those agreed to move. He also made telephone calls to at least nine other clients.
“Mr. Peterson told one Edward Jones customer that Ameriprise would waive all fees to transfer him,” says Gonzalez’s declaration.
The St. Louis-based broker-dealer alleges in its complaint filed before the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada that Peterson “intentionally collected Edward Jones’ Trade Secrets and took them with him to solicit Edward Jones’ customers and induce them to terminate their relationship with Edward Jones.”
Email and voicemail left for Peterson did not get a response and Ameriprise also did not respond to email for comments on this story by press time.
"Edward Jones has filed a request for a temporary restraining order against former financial advisor Michael Peterson based upon evidence that he misappropriated client information from the firm and solicited Edward Jones clients, all in violation of his employment contract," an Edward Jones spokesperson told FA-IQ via email, adding that the firm, "takes seriously its obligation to protect the confidentiality of client information. It is improper for Mr. Peterson to use information he improperly took from Edward Jones to solicit clients."
According to BrokerCheck, Peterson registered with Edward Jones in May 2006. He has no customer disputes on his record. His registration switched to Ameriprise in October 2019.
Edward Jones' complaint claims that on September 17, 2019, Peterson printed an internal report that identified all his clients, their account numbers and their asset details. After his resignation, Peterson began contacting his clients to convince them to transfer their assets to Ameriprise, the complaint alleges.
Edward Jones is suing on counts of misappropriation of trade secrets, both pursuant to the Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Nevada Trade Secrets Act. It is also suing for breach of contract as the firm feels Peterson breached the terms of the employment agreement he signed with Edward Jones.
The firm seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctive relief to stop Peterson or any person acting in concert from soliciting Edward Jones clients. The firm is also seeking an order asking Peterson to delete or return Edward Jones client information and provide a sworn declaration to that effect.