Arbitrator Awards About One-Fifth of Training Fee Damages to Wells Fargo

October 13, 2011

In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in November 2010, Claimant Wells Fargo Advisors sought to recover $75,000 in training costs and expenses that became due when Respondent Hansz resigned on February 17, 2009, allegedly before he fulfilled the term of employment in his Supplementary Training Agreement for a Financial Consultant dated January 3, 2008.  At the end of the arbitration hearing, Wells Fargo amended its damages claims to $75,000.00 in compensatory damages, $19,440.30 in interest, and $21,221.25 in attorneys' fees (a gross total of $115, 661.55). In the Matter of the FINRA Arbitration Between Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Claimant, v. Aaron Hansz, Respondent (FINRA Arbitration 10-04938, October 5, 2011).

Respondent Hansz generally denied the allegations and asserted various affirmative defenses.

The sole FINRA Arbitrator hearing the case found Respondenbt Hansz liable and ordered him to pay to Claimant Wells Fargo $12,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in attorneys' fees, for a total of $22,000.  Consequently, the Arbitrator awarded Claimant about 19% of the gross damages ($115, 661.55) it sought from Respondent.

Bill Singer's Comment

$115,000?  $115,000?? Really???

So, apparently, after working for Wells Fargo for about a year, Hansz left.  And let's not gloss over what that year covered:  virtually the entire 2008 Stock Market Crash and the onset of the Great Recession. 

Upon the resignation of its employee, Wells Fargo then comes after him for $75,000 in training fees.  Now, I'm guessing here (and of course I do this for a living, so it's an educated guess), that Wells Fargo might have been disposed to settle this matter for a percentage of that $75,000.  I'm also guessing that Hansz wasn't willing to settle for what Wells was asking.  Then there's the possibility that Wells wanted to send a message or there was really bad blood involved.

Whatever the background to this arbitration, it's truly breathtaking to imagine that the training a wannabe stockbroker receives at any major brokerage firm somehow amounts to $115,000 - that's what, something like two or three years at Harvard? 

Okay, sure, that $115,000 includes interest on the allegedly untimely repaid training fees and a little sumthin' for the lawyers handling the collection effort.  On the other hand, $115,000 to train a newbie at Wells Fargo?  Wow!

For a more detailed discussion of some of the issues in these Training Fees cases, see, A.G. Edwards Loses Training Fee Case to Pro Se Stockbroker ("Street Sweeper" September 22, 2011)

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