Jerry Figari got a nice incentive bonus in early 1997 to join Prudential Securities in Stuart, Fla.--$200,000. But after sending a hard-hitting letter to a corporate prospect, Figari lost his job and, furthermore, now has to pay back the remainder of upfront money--$142,788 in $4,712 monthly installments.
Figari got in trouble when he sent a letter to Florida Power & Light (FP&L) CEO James Broadhead. Figari had put together a proposal for FP&Ls 401(k) business, a proposal Figari claims was never seriously considered. His letter to Broadhead detailed his experience in dealing with FP&Ls benefits department. It appears that someone at FP&L is getting a sweetheart deal from the current vendor, he wrote. Employees and shareholders are being shortchanged, Figari asserted, noting that many of his clients owned FP&L stock. He requested that Broadhead contact him and alleviate these concerns about the utilitys procurement practices. Broadhead never called Figari, but Figari claims FP&L did contact Prudential Insurance, parent of the securities unit, to complain. The result: both Figari and his manager were fired.
Prudentials explanation on Figaris U-5 form was, loss of confidence as a result of writing a letter to a public utility.
Figari then sued Prudential for $700,000 in damages. Further, the language on his U-5 prevented Figari from getting jobs at other firms, according to Figaris attorney, Scott Link, of Ackerman Link Sartory in West Palm Beach, Fla.
In a May decision, an NYSE arbitration panel denied Figaris claim. In addition, the panel ordered Figari to pay back the outstanding balance on his three-year forgivable note. The three arbitrators also ordered his U-5 be amended to, loss of confidence as a result of writing a letter (previously approved by branch manager) to a public utility.
According to a Prudential spokesperson, Our procedure is that all letters that get sent to clients must go through our marketing review department here in New York. Prudential, though, admits Figaris letter wasnt construed as a marketing letter.
Broadhead could not be reached. Prudential Securities will not comment on arbitrations.
Meantime, Figari has set up shop at Makefield Securities, an independent, in Stuart, Fla. He didnt get a signing bonus.