The firm alleges James Sirek printed out client information in the months leading up to his departure, informed clients of his impending move and contacted Edward Jones clients after he joined Wells Fargo.
According to the complaint filed before the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, Sirek “suddenly, and without notice, resigned,” on September 10. On his LinkedIn profile, Sirek is currently listed as a vice president of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors.
Edward Jones alleges that on July 31 and August 8, Sirek printed a report containing information about every client serviced by the firm’s Farmington, Minn., branch where he worked.
The branch managed assets in excess of $57 million, per the complaint.
“Edward Jones has filed a request for a temporary restraining order against former financial advisor James Sirek based upon evidence that he misappropriated client information from the firm in violation of his employment contract. Edward Jones takes seriously its obligation to protect the confidentiality of client information. It is improper for Sirek to be using information he improperly took from Edward Jones to solicit clients,” the company told FA-IQ in an emailed statement.
On July 25, July 31 and September 6, 2019, Edward Jones alleges Sirek printed out the master list for the branch’s clients and prospects — a list containing personal, financial and contact information.
Sirek “retained the Edward Jones confidential information he printed so he could more easily solicit Edward Jones clients to convince them to transfer their business from Edward Jones,” the complaint alleges.
Edward Jones also claims Sirek was trying to convince clients to transfer assets to Wells Fargo even before he resigned.
Affidavits by Edward Jones employees attached to the complaint allege at least one client knew of Sirek’s departure prior to his resignation.
Katie Ralston, the branch office administrator, says in an affidavit that “Sirek told at least two Edward Jones clients that Edward Jones is allowing Sirek to transfer clients’ assets with him to Wells Fargo.”
In addition, Wells Fargo apparently sent direct mailers to Edward Jones clients providing Sirek’s contact information while Sirek himself mailed paperwork to clients for transfer of assets, the complaint claims.
“As requested, I have enclosed the paperwork you will need to transfer your accounts to Wells Fargo Advisors. If you wish to transfer your accounts, simply sign the enclosed materials, and return them to me in the postage-paid return envelope I have provided,” Sirek apparently wrote in the cover letter of the transfer documents. The letter was attached as an exhibit to Edward Jones' complaint.
Ralston adds that she heard from multiple clients that “despite the 'as requested' language in the transfer paperwork they received, they did not contact James Sirek or request Wells Fargo transfer paperwork from him.” She says she continues to hear from clients about Sirek contacting them.
Edward Jones' grounds for wanting a TRO include breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. The firm cites the employment agreement and Edward Jones’ Trade Secrets Policy, which Sirek signed as part of his employment.
The firm is seeking to restrain Sirek from attempting to solicit clients or disclosing any Edward Jones trade secrets until a Finra arbitration decides the matter.
It is also seeking the court to order Sirek to return all information and copies to Edward Jones in no more than 24 hours, along with exemplary damages pursuant to the Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Minnesota Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
Sirek did not respond to questions at the time of press.