A former top Merrill Lynch adviser is suspended from the securities industry for 18 months by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Bruce K. Lee agreed to the suspension and the $15,000 fine issued on October 23, 2019, according to FINRA’s Broker Check. “Without admitting or denying the findings, Lee consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he directed two members of his staff to complete continuing education modules on his behalf, rather than completing the modules himself,” FINRA wrote.
FINRA says Lee had a financial analyst and a client associate on his staff complete online training tests under his name, from June 2014 to March 2018. During this time, Lee was a managing director at Merrill Lynch’s private banking and investment group. FINRA says lee had his staff complete 29 online modules he was supposed to do himself. Lee is also accused of having his staff complete 14 online modules required by Merrill Lynch including code of conduct, risk appetite and information protection.
After the allegations, Merrill Lynch fired Lee in April of 2018, telling FINRA that his “conduct including failure to personally complete mandatory Firm compliance training, resulting in a loss of management’s confidence.”
Lee’s dismissal by FINRA was a shock to the investment world. Lee’s team advertised he was ranked in Barron’s lists of Top Financial Advisors since 2007, according to Advisor Hub. He also reportedly managed more than $2 billion of client assets and generated about $8 million in revenue in 2017, says Advisor Hub.
Lee’s suspension from FINRA is set to last until May 3, 2021. He is also ordered to attend and complete 10 hours of FINRA approved training.
FINRA’s Broker Check says Lee started in securities in 1986, working for Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. He worked for Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley & Co., and other firms before he came to Merrill Lynch in 2011.
While Lee is temporarily banned from FINRA, he’s still working. Lee runs Keebeck Wealth Management, a Dynasty Financial Partners-back RIA in Chicago. A spokeswoman for Dynasty Financial Partners told City Wire USA that “Bruce Lee is no longer affiliated with a FINRA organization. His FINRA license expires in six months. This has no impact on his business.”
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