Merrill Lynch Broker Permanently Barred by FINRA for Unauthorized Trades and Unsuitable Recommendations

Thomas Joseph Buck, a former registered representative with the Carmel, Indiana branch of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (Merrill Lynch), consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the sanction and the entry of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he made unsuitable account recommendations and exercised discretion in clients’ accounts. Thomas Buck, of Carmel, Indiana, allegedly conducted business under the designation “The Buck Group” with more than 3,000 accounts and $1.3 billion under management. According to FINRA, Mr. Buck neglected to adequately assess the suitability of the fee structure for certain clients – using commission-based accounts when it would have been less expensive for the clients to maintain fee-based accounts. FINRA found that in some instances, Mr. Buck’s clients paid substantially more in commissions than they would have if they were in fee-based accounts. Further, Mr. Buck allegedly misled clients about the potential advantages of fee-based accounts so that the clients remained in the higher-cost commission-based accounts. Mr. Buck also made unauthorized trades in certain customer accounts, allegedly neglecting to get the customers or Merrill Lynch’s prior written authorization as required by FINRA Rule 2010. Consequently, Mr. Buck was permanently barred from association with any FINRA member in any capacity.

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