JP Morgan Chase financial advisor to A-Rod, Forbes 400 billionaires loses ruling in client “poaching” fight with bank

A star JPMorgan Chase financial advisor lost her legal bid to force the bank to temporarily prevent colleagues from “poaching” her clients, the first major ruling in an unusual dispute that has riveted Wall Street.

The ruling from a federal judge on Wednesday leaves wealth manager Gwen Campbell, whose elite clients include Forbes 400 billionaires and retired New York Yankees player Alexander Rodriquez, to pursue her civil lawsuit against the bank where she works and a separate complaint in arbitration proceedings.

U.S District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. of federal district court in San Francisco wrote in his ruling that “None of this is to say that the Court has concluded that Defendants (or Plaintiff) will win at arbitration. “This is a complex (and apparently messy) high-stakes business dispute that the arbitrator will have to sift through on a fully-developed record.”

JPM CEO Jamie Dimon praised Campbell's hiring when she first joined the bank.

JPM CEO Jamie Dimon praised Campbell’s hiring when she first joined the bank.

Bloomberg News

Campbell, a well-regarded wealth manager at Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, joined JPMorgan Advisors in San Francisco in October 2020, bringing with her 40 ultra wealthy clients with assets of $1.1 billion and hundreds of millions of dollars of loans. She sued JPM on Dec. 2 for allegedly allowing its private bankers to “ruthlessly” solicit her celebrity roster and “siphon” millions of dollars that she manages for them into separate accounts at the bank that aren’t under her control.

Jennifer Selendy, a lawyer for Campbell, said Thursday in a statement that “today’s narrow ruling didn’t cast any doubt on Ms. Campbell’s claims of bank wrongdoing.” Selendy added that “we’re very confident the arbitrator will be persuaded by the evidence, and we look forward to presenting the full record.”

Veronica Navarro, a spokeswoman for JPM, declined on Thursday to comment.

Campbell’s lawsuit alleges that the advisor negotiated an employment contract that included pledges by the bank not to allow its own private bankers to compete for her clients. The agreement allegedly included a “side letter” spelling out that promise. In his ruling, the judge wrote that “the arbitrator will have to decide what the parties actually agreed to as a substantive matter, and the Court could see either party prevailing once a full evidentiary record is made.”

For prior coverage of Campbell’s case, see here and here.

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