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Brent Hablutzel Terminated by Rockefeller Capital Management: UPDATES

Securities Lawyer Jonathan Kurta
By: Jonathan Kurta Author

Brent Hablutzel was terminated by Rockefeller Capital Management after just five months with the firm, following his recruitment from Merrill Lynch. According to his IAPD record, accessed on November 28, 2022, he is registered as an investment adviser with Western Wealth Management. Investors who have worked with Brent Hablutzel may have questions about his sudden termination and the handling of their accounts — keep reading for more information. 

What Did Brent Hablutzel Allegedly Do?

According to allegations filed on October 6, 2022, Brent Hablutzel engaged in unauthorized trading from September 2020 through January 2022. 

On July 5, 2022, Rockefeller Financial fired Brent Hablutzel following allegations that he exercised discretion over certain customer trades without authority. FINRA Rule 3260 prohibits brokers from exercising trading discretion in customer accounts unless those accounts are approved for discretionary trading by both the investor and the firm. 

The firm further alleged that Brent Hablutzel demonstrated a lack of candor in an internal review that resulted in a loss of confidence by the management team. 

AdvisorHub states that sources claim Rockefeller took action after “a concern related to [Brent Hablutzel’s] management of client accounts was brought to managers’ attention. The issue may have traced back to before his move from Merrill.” AdvisorHub quoted a spokesperson as stating that the termination was “consistent with our unwavering commitment to protecting investors and safeguarding market integrity.” 

Brent Hablutzel Career

When Rockefeller Capital Management hired Brent Hablutzel, he had completed an 18-year tenure with Merrill Lynch, where he generated approximately $8 million in revenue while managing $850 million in client assets, according to reports.  In 2021, Brent Hablutzel was ranked #6 Best-In-State Wealth Advisor for Colorado by Forbes Magazine and ranked #9 on Barron’s Top Colorado Financial Advisor list.

Investor Dispute

There is one investor dispute on Brent Hablutzel’s BrokerCheck record. In 2015, investors alleged that he misrepresented the rollover of a retirement plan. Misrepresentations are considered a violation of FINRA Rule 2020, which prohibits brokers from using any manipulative or deceptive device in connection with the sale of a security. Rule 2020 also states that brokers cannot omit any material facts. Material facts include information about fees or tax implications.

The dispute was denied by the firm but concerned investors should know that a denial does not necessarily mean the dispute was without merit. Firms frequently deny disputes without any external or impartial review. Investors can still recover their losses through FINRA arbitration following a denial by the firm.

Investors should also always check BrokerCheck before working with a broker. Even a denied dispute should be a red flag.

Investment Adviser Role and Responsibilities

  • Investment advisers advise their clients on all aspects of wealth management, including estate planning, in addition to investment advice and portfolio management.
  • They are also fiduciaries, meaning they are required to act in their clients’ best interests.
  • Investment advisers are registered with the Securities Exchange Commission and their misconduct disclosures appear on Investment Adviser Public Disclosures (IAPD).
  • Their fee is usually a percentage of the assets under management (AUM), typically 1-2% of the portfolio assets.

Broker Role and Responsibilities

  • Stock brokers place buy and sell orders for stocks.
  • Instead of receiving a percentage of assets under management, brokers usually earn a fee or commission per transaction.
  • Brokers are registered with FINRA and their misconduct records appear on BrokerCheck.
  • They must adhere to FINRA rules and regulations. This includes FINRA Rule 2111, which requires that brokers only recommend investments that suit investors’ needs. For instance, brokers are not allowed to recommend risky investments to investors who wish to preserve their capital and earn reliable returns.

What Should I Do if I Lost Money with Brent Hablutzel?

Review your account statements if you worked with Brent Hablutzel. If you have concerns about your portfolio, contact one of our attorneys for a free case evaluation. In the event that you lost money due to misconduct, experienced securities attorneys from Kurta Law can guide you through the process of recovery.

Securities Lawyer Jonathan Kurta
Written by: Jonathan Kurta

Jonathan Kurta is an accomplished securities attorney and a founding partner at Kurta Law.