JP Morgan Securities filed a lawsuit in federal court this week accusing a former advisor of soliciting clients at his new company Wells Fargo Advisors in alleged breach of his employment contracts.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Southern Florida District, alleged Gabriel Gomez “abruptly resigned from JP Morgan” on March 5 and joined Wells Fargo almost immediately. Gomez has been with Chase Investment Services since 2010 and subsequently with JP Morgan Securities. according to his FINRA BrokerCheck profile.
After joining Wells Fargo, Gomez allegedly began soliciting former customers. Gomez called some customers on their personal cell phones and encouraged them to move their business to Wells Fargo, according to his previous employer. He would call some customers multiple times even if they told him they’d rather stay with JP Morgan.
JP Morgan Securities is a member of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, which enables outgoing consultants to collect certain client information and refer clients, regardless of whether they have agreements in place that expressly prohibit such behavior. However, the protocol does not apply to the company’s branch agents.
JP Morgan claimed Gomez took cconfidential information about customers upon departure, including their personal mobile phone numbers. JP Morgan said it learned from two customers that Gomez was trying to convince them that Wells Fargo had “better deals and better fees,” while claiming that most of its customers were with him on his move to Wells Fargo . He allegedly told another customer that JP Morgan’s “hands were tied” and told another customer that he should consider moving as his branch manager was also leaving the company.
JP Morgan alleged that Gomez had signed employment contracts containing non-solicitation and confidentiality provisions that prevented him from soliciting JP Morgan clients 12 months after he left. They argued that his actions undercut the work they had done to reach and maintain their customer base.
“JPMorgan devotes significant resources, in terms of time, effort, and money, each year to providing its Chase Wealth Management employees, including the Defendant, with programs and support to help them build and develop relationships with our customers,” it said in the lawsuit. “Almost all of the JPMorgan customers served by the defendant (with the exception of family accounts) were developed by JPMorgan with great effort and over several years.”
According to the lawsuit, at least eight of Gomez’s former clients at JP Morgan, with total assets of approximately $ 2.9 million, had already joined Wells Fargo, although none of those clients were people he brought to JP Morgan. Prior to his resignation, Gomez worked with approximately 300 clients or households with total assets under management of approximately $ 110 million.
Wells Fargo Advisors and JP Morgan Securities declined to comment, and Gomez’s attorney did not return a request for comment at press time.
JP Morgan is seeking an injunction and injunction against Gomez pending the results of FINRA arbitration.