Courts Sustain Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch Away Account Denials
In McDaniels, et al. v. Wells Fargo Investments, LLC, et al. (9th Circuit, April 10, 2013), Plaintiffs are former employees of Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch: Douglas McDaniel and Bryan Clark are former Wells Fargo financial advisors (Wells Fargo Investments, Wells Fargo Bank, and Wells Fargo Advisers collectively referred to as “Wells Fargo”). Holly Hanson, John Rennell, Marcia Bloemendaal, and David Notrica formerly worked for what is now known as Morgan Stanley. Kristen Heilemann and Marcella Lees worked as financial consultants and portfolio managers for Merrill Lynch. While employed at Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch, the employees were denied the ability to open self-directed brokerage accounts at other firms. The employer firms argued that federal law requires brokerage firms to promulgate rules and regulations reasonably designed to supervise their employees in order to deter the misuse of material, nonpublic information. Accordingly, the employers claimed that their denial of employee requests to open outside self-directed trading accounts promoted sound compliance policies and furthered the federal requirement to properly supervise.