Avoid James P Marten Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor

James Marten Merrill Lynch is a financial advisor based in Phoenix, Arizona. He runs the Marten Group and offers wealth management services to high-net-worth clients. 

Before you consider working with him, however, it would be best to see what his disclosures say. It would help you make a better-informed decision: 

About James Marten Merrill Lynch:

James Marten is a Merrill Lynch financial advisor based in Phoenix, Arizona. His address is 2555 E Camelback Rd Suite 900, Phoenix, AZ 85016, US and his contact number is 602-954-5016. James’ office opens from 7 AM to 3 PM.

He runs the Marten Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and claims to be accessible, knowledgeable and experienced.

Other notable people at this firm include James A Barasha (Vice President) and Gerri A Cantu (Registered Senior Wealth Management). 

The brand name of Merrill Lynch surely helps him seem credible but his disclosures suggest otherwise. Here are the prominent issues present in James Marten Merrill Lynch’s disclosures:

Hidden Red Flags in James Marten’s Disclosures:

$500k Dispute on FINRA

When you’re considering working with a financial advisor, it’s best to look them up on FINRA BrokerCheck. It’s a database by FINRA which tells you all the professional details you need to know about an advisor including their qualifications, their past employers, and most importantly, theri past disputes with customers.

James Marten of Merrill Lynch has one dispute listed on his profile. No action was taken on it and the complaint was closed. It’s dated 7-1-2002.

The customer complained that he was induced to invest in Tanglers Holding Inc. a company owned by his cousin and to guarantee a loan to its subsidiary, Fulfillment Direct Inc. He made the complaint after the loan went into default and the creditor, Merrill Lynch Business Financial Services had sent notice to liquidate the collateral pledged by him.

The customer requested $503,640.22 in damages. However, the claim was denied and was deemed to be without merit. 

Selling Commission-based Products

According to his disclosures, James Marten sells commissions products to his clients and they make up a significant chunk of his firm’s revenue. 

Earning from commissions introduces multiple conflicts of interest in a wealth advisor’s services. Trusting the advisor becomes a matter of priorities as you have to ask this question: “Does the advisor care more about his clients or his wallet?”

Ideally, a wealth advisor would understand your financial requirements and chart out a strategy that suits your goals. 

When you work with an advisor that earns from commissions, they become more of a sales professional and might even ignore your requirements to make an extra buck. 

Charging Extra Fees

The Marten Group charges 12b-1 fees on several securities it recommends to its clients. 12b-1 fees is a marketing fee which usually goes in the pockets of the broker (the advisor). 

It is unnecessary and many prestigious wealth advisors avoid charging it altogether. The 12b-1 fee increases the cost of the investment but offers no benefits in return. 

In fact, the SEC did an extensive research on mutual funds that charge 12b-1 fees and those that don’t. They found no difference between the returns of the two. Instead, the costs of the mutual funds that charge 12b-1 fees were higher and hence, they were worse. 

Incentive to Ignore a Client’s Requirements

As a part of Merrill Lynch, James can sell many proprietary and affiliated investment products. These products offer his firm higher commissions than other investments. 

The high commission offered by proprietary products can also introduce a lot of bias in an advisor. They may recommend unsuitable securities and investments simply because they generate too much commission. 

If you’re a client of James Marten Merrill Lynch, review your investments to see if they are offering you optimal returns or not. 

Putting Clients at Unnecessary Risk

The Marten Group charges performance-based fees which is notorious for promoting high-risk strategies. Performance-based fees are heavily looked down upon and are not considered suitable for most clients. 

Advisors that charge performance-based fees have to outperform a specific benchmark and in doing so, they might put their clients at unnecessary risk. 

In volatile and down markets, such strategies can cause heavy losses to a client. Hence, it’s best to avoid performance-based fees altogether, particularly, when you don’t want to create a high-risk portfolio.

This is a big reason why it’s very difficult to recommend James P Marten and his firm to an investor.

James Marten Merrill Lynch Review: Conclusion

Even though he is affiliated with a prestigious brand, it’s very difficult to recommend his services. That’s because James’ disclosures suggest he doesn’t put his clients’ interests ahead of himself. 

From selling commissioned products to putting clients at additional risk, there’s so much going on that’s just wrong. 

Because of all these reasons, it would be best to find a different wealth management advisor who truly puts your interests ahead of his. 

2.9Expert Score
Terrible

This financial advisor has various provisions in his terms and conditions that incentivize him to ignore your interests and requirements. Unless you want to get subpar financial advice, it would be best to avoid James Marten Merrill Lynch.

Trust
3
Experience
3
Ethics
2.5
Concern for Clients
3
Pros
  • None
Cons
  • 12b-1 fees conflict
  • Performance-based fees
  • History of disputes with clients
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