Brokers deny wrongdoing
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Stifel Nicolaus brokerage branch manager Sumner Schachter on Wednesday adamantly denied allegations of wrongdoing by him and his co-workers in connection with their move to a different brokerage.
He also says they are extremely upset at what he characterized as Morgan Stanley’s efforts to taint their reputation in the community.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Stifel Nicolaus filed a countermotion in federal court Wednesday afternoon, officially contradicting the claims made by Morgan Stanley that its ex-employees raided its Glenwood Springs office, pirating employees, records and software.
According to Morgan Stanley’s original motion for injunctive relief, filed March 25, seven former employees of that company – financial advisors Schachter, Michael McCallum, Daniel “Marc” Gilkerson and Scott Nelson, along with financial advisor assistants Kim Richardson, Darcy Croissant and Elicia Bellmire – resigned their positions at Morgan Stanley on March 14, took confidential company records and computer programs, then started up a branch for Stifel Nicolaus.
In Stifel Nicolaus’ countermotion, however, the company says its new staff didn’t break any rules.
“We didn’t raid or pirate anything,” Schachter said.
Among the many allegations lodged by Morgan Stanley is that its ex-employees have been wrongly soliciting Morgan Stanley clients since they made the move to Stifel Nicolaus. The Stifel Nicolaus countermotion states that back in 1993, when Schachter was hired by Morgan Stanley, he was encouraged to bring his clients with him, yet now they’re trying to stop him from doing the same thing for Stifel Nicolaus, despite addenda to his original contract allowing this to happen.
“Morgan Stanley has previously been adjudicated to be barred from seeking the requested relief because Morgan Stanley itself actively encourages recruited brokers to retain and use copies of client records and to solicit the transfer of client accounts from competitors without any regard to agreements between the brokers and the competitors,” the countermotion said.
Schachter summed up that point more plainly: “We consider them our clients, not their customers.”
He said the addendums to Morgan Stanley’s standard anti-competition agreements allow him and the other financial advisors who moved over to Stifel Nicolaus to try and get clients to follow them.
“(Morgan Stanley) simply ignored the explicit terms of Schachter’s and McCallum’s contracts, which specifically permit them to solicit clients and retain client records,” the countermotion said.
Another accusation made by Morgan Stanley is that Schachter and the others told Morgan Stanley clients the Glenwood Springs office was closed. Stifel Nicolaus denies that.
“Defendants told their clients that they had moved to Stifel, that Morgan Stanley had threatened to close its Glenwood Springs office and that they didn’t know what the fate of that Morgan Stanley office would be,” the countermotion said.
Schachter added that he was told by a supervisor in Denver in October 2002 that because of corporate downsizing, there would be a “99.9 percent chance we were going to be shut down,” and office staff would be wise to go out and seek employment with another company.
So Schachter said that’s exactly what they did.
“We are kind of astounded that they are punishing us for doing what they asked us to do,” he said of the motion for injunctive relief. “They’re being extremely punitive,” he added.
Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Nancy Delionado made a brief statement on the matter Wednesday: “Our focus is on our clients and on our financial advisors in Glenwood Springs continuing to provide premier advice to our clients throughout the area.”
She said the office remained open following the departure of the seven staff members and she expects it to remain open.
Schachter said allegations that the seven employees improperly took records, computers, software and client lists are false.
The countermotion by Stifel Nicolaus states the ex-employees already have returned all records that are supposed to go back to Morgan Stanley, “including the ones clearly covered by the addenda to Schachter’s and McCallum’s employment agreements,” the countermotion said.
“We were running a good office and we were respected,” Schachter said. “We live here, we do business here and if we were bad people and dishonest, we wouldn’t be here in a town this size. . We cherish our reputation in the community, and we’re really upset that they want to taint that.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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