Advisor Group branch manager prevails in messy recruiting dispute

On January 23, 2023, McAfee & Taft litigators Spencer Smith and Jenny Puckett secured a FINRA arbitration victory for Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., a member of Advisor Group, and branch manager Brian Heapps in an action brought by Alan Niemann, a financial advisor who previously headed up an office of supervisory jurisdiction (OSJ) for Royal Alliance prior to his departure from the company in 2020.

As noted in a February 8, 2023, article in Financial Planning titled “Advisor Group branch manager prevails in messy recruiting dispute,” Niemann anticipated that three advisors at his Royal Alliance office would make the move with him to his new company, Cambridge Investment Research.  When all three chose to move their business to the Royal Alliance office led by Heapps instead, Niemann initiated legal action, seeking $1.2 million in compensatory damages for unjust enrichment and violations of company recruiting rules by Heapps.

Attorney Spencer Smith was quoted in the article as saying the arbitration panel’s decision was gratifying for his client as well as  others collaterally impacted by the claimant’s allegations.

“There was no question that the underlying business in question belonged to the advisors, who were very pleased with Royal Alliance and did not want to go along with a transition — orchestrated by the claimant (their OSJ) — to another broker-dealer.”

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