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J.P. Morgan Accuses Advisor of Soliciting Clients After Jumping to Raymond James

The bank is seeking a temporary restraining order against Matthew D. Sitarski, alleging he accessed client information, violated contractual agreements and lured away clients with nearly $4 million in assets.

J.P. Morgan Securities is suing a former employee after he left for Raymond James, accusing the advisor of soliciting clients and violating contractual agreements.

The bank is seeking a temporary restraining order against Matthew D. Sitarski, who until recently worked at a bank branch in Ann Arbor, Mich. When he left, Sitarski worked with about 250 households with approximately $132 million in managed assets.

According to the complaint filed in Michigan federal court, Sitarski left J.P. Morgan on Jan. 31 and joined Raymond James later that same day. The bank accused him of soliciting at least 10 former clients almost immediately. One client said Sitarski pushed him to move his account to Raymond James so the advisor could continue working with him. 

Another client told the bank she got a call on her cell phone from Sitarski urging her to do the same and meet him for an appointment, which she declined.

“The client also informed JPMorgan that Sitarski had ‘downplayed’ the experience of the JPMorgan Private Client Advisor who had been assigned to the client after Sitarski resigned (who has been with JPMorgan since 2016),” the complaint read.

But Sitarski’s allegedly had some success in luring clients, according to the suit; about six households with assets totaling approximately $3.9 million have already left for Raymond James.

Raymond James did not respond to requests for comments on the complaint. 

In the filing, attorneys for J.P. Morgan warned of the consequences if the court didn’t grant the TRO.

“Unless (Sitarski’s) misconduct is immediately restrained and enjoined, other competitors of JPMorgan will be encouraged to engage in the same kind of improper behavior with complete impunity, the result of which will inflict severe and permanent damages on JPMorgan,” the complaint read.

Sitarski joined J.P. Morgan in Nov. 2007, starting on the bank side. He entered the securities portion of the business as a financial advisor associate in 2010 and became an advisor two years later.

By the end of his time at the bank, Sitarski was a private client advisor. According to the complaint, the bank referred hundreds of its clients to Sitarski for him to pitch investment opportunities. The bank didn’t expect Sitarski to cold call for clients. 

Through his employment, Sitarski allegedly could access what J.P. Morgan deemed confidential information in client files, including “client identity, address, telephone numbers, transactional history, tax information, personal financial data, banking information and investment objectives.” They also claimed all of Sitraski’s contacts in his advisory business were pre-existing bank clients referred or assigned to him.

J.P. Morgan also alleged Sitarski signed several non-solicitation agreements during his tenure, barring him from soliciting clients for one year after his employment at J.P. Morgan ended. The contracts demanded Sitarski not use or retain the bank’s confidential information if he resigned.

The Sitarski suit isn’t the first time J.P. Morgan accused a former advisor of breaking their agreements. In January, J.P. Morgan sued Nader Joseph Al-Mooshi, a former bank branch advisor who’d departed for Kestra the previous fall. The bank accused him of bleeding the bank of $40 million in assets by soliciting bank customers and using proprietary client information. 

Last fall, J.P. Morgan leveled similar allegations against Daniel Sutton, a Fla.-based advisor who left the bank for Commonwealth.

J.P. Morgan previously stated that bank branch advisors like Sitarski, al-Mooshi and Sutton don’t fall under the protections of the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, established in 2004 to offer advisors greater flexibility (and less legal jeopardy) when soliciting clients after moving between wealth management firms. 

The bank claims those protections only extend in-house to registered reps in the J.P. Morgan Advisors division with the titles “wealth advisor” or “wealth partner."

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