A breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against Wells Fargo Advisors filed this month in a federal court in New Orleans serves as a sharp reminder of the well-worn adage: time equals money.
The plaintiffs — heirs of late clients of WFA — allege that two advisors at the wirehouse failed to respond in a timely fashion to multiple requests to liquidate an account that had been bequeathed to them.
The delays led to the heirs receiving $100,000 less than the roughly $440,000 they would have inherited if WFA advisors had acted promptly, the lawsuit alleges.
WFA had no comment in response to the allegations, according to a spokesperson.
The two advisors identified in the lawsuit are Jeffry Cummings, who has 35 years of experience, and Alan Brockhaus, who has seven years, according to BrokerCheck. The two advisors, who are still employed at a WFA office in New Orleans, are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Gary Alexander, one of the three heirs, all children of the clients, filed the lawsuit as the trustee of the account.
On or around Nov. 15, 2018, Alexander met with Cummings and asked that their parents’ investment account be “liquidated immediately and that the proceeds be paid out to the named beneficiaries” — namely, Alexander and his sisters, according to the lawsuit.
Cummings refused this request, telling Alexander he needed additional documentation to authorize the request, according to the lawsuit.
The next day, Alexander returned with “all the necessary documentation,” the lawsuit alleges.
Cummings again denied the request “for unknown reasons” and directed Alexander to meet with Brockhaus, the lawsuit alleges.
When he met with Brockhaus, the advisor told Alexander “the funds could not be taken out and that they were 'performing well,'" according to the lawsuit.
Alexander held firm on his liquidation request but Brockhaus refused, the lawsuit alleges.
Finally, “Alexander was assured the account would be liquidated and that he would be notified upon liquidation,” the lawsuit alleges.
But two months later — on Jan. 22, 2018 — when Brockhaus called to tell Alexander that his liquidation request had been fulfilled, the value of the account had depreciated by $100,000 from the balance it held earlier in November, when Alexander initially made his request, the lawsuit alleges.
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