Brent D. Hablutzel was fired by Rockefeller Capital Management for Exercising Discretion.

Brent D. Hablutzel was fired by Rockefeller Capital Management on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, after only being employed there for less than five months, according to a recent AdvisorHub article.  Mr. Hablutzel and his team were located just outside of Denver―in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Mr. Hablutzel was consistently ranked among the top 15 advisors in the entire state of Colorado by Barrons. Prior to being recruited by Rockefeller, Mr. Hablutzel had worked at Merrill Lynch for 17 years and managed more than $500 million in client assets, according to a February 2021 Forbes article.

It is PCJ’s experience that firms only terminate producers of Mr. Halbutzel’s caliber when there is overwhelming cause―i.e. exactly what apparently happened here. According to Mr. Halbutzel’s publicly available BrokerCheck, he was terminated by Rockefeller because he “exercised discretion over certain customer trades without authority; lack of candor in internal review; and resulting loss of confidence by Management.”  Exercising discretion over a customer’s accounts is a major regulatory violation that could have impacted many of his customers.

Mr. Halbutzel’s termination reason is remarkably similar to another former Merrill Lynch financial advisor that PCJ has previously sued―Tom Buck who hailed from Merrill’s Indianapolis office. In that instance, Merrill’s termination disclosure also stated that Mr. Buck was terminated for serious sales practice issues, “resulting in management’s loss of confidence.” In Mr. Buck’s case, this disclosure was followed in the ensuing months by dozens of customer complaints, and ultimately a prison sentence for Mr. Buck for securities fraud.

PCJ handled the only case against Mr. Buck that went to arbitration. This case resulted in settlements and awards that totaled nearly $14 million for our client. More detail about that arbitration can be found here. A termination explanation like Mr. Hablutzel’s should be treated as a huge red flag by his customers, who should investigate whether the sales practice issues that resulted in his firing may impact them, as well. Mr. Hablutzel had previously been accused of mismanaging a client’s retirement plan in 2015 per his publicly disclosed Brokercheck, an allegation that he denied.

Even when an investor is harmed by serious wrongdoing, results do not just happen.  Rather, they are the result of experience, hard work, and more than a little resourcefulness.  Prosser, Clapper & Johnson (“PCJ”) is an experienced securities firm that can handle securities matters across the country­ including Colorado. If the Hablutzel Team handled your accounts and you think you lost money― or even that your portfolio underperformed the market―we may be able to help you find answers. Please contact the attorneys at PCJ Law for a free, informative consultation at 901-820-4433 or contact us via the online form found here.

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