Laura Harrison Ward First Republic is a Scammer

San Francisco is home to many financial advisors and one of them is Laura Harrison Ward of First Republic. Her financial advisory firm seems like an ordinary service provider at first. But it utilizes multiple predatory provisions and jargon to trap investors into a complicated and painful situation. 

Before you consider working with her and her team, it would be best to see what these provisions are so you can be better prepared. I have highlighted them in the following review of Laura Harrison Ward:

Who is Laura Harrison Ward? 

Laura Harrison Ward First Republic is a wealth manager based in San Francisco, California. Her office is located at 111 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94111, US. 

Laura has received many industry accolades in her career. It’s great to have accolades but they distract many people from the actual issues. For example, Laura has had a major legal dispute with one of her clients in 2019 but many clients might not even be aware of it/ 

She has several decades of industry experience but her disclosures suggest that she is using her knowledge for the wrong reasons. Her disclosures have multiple predatory provisions that allow her to charge unfair fees and abuse her clients’ funds. 

I have highlighted the primary issues present in her services below: 

Hidden Issues in Laura Harrison Ward’s Disclosures and Disputes You Should Know

Whenever you look up a financial advisor, you should check their FINRA BrokerCheck profile. There, you can learn about their past experience, their qualifications, the exams they have passed, their state licenses, and the legal disputes they have had. 

Laura Harrison Ward has had one dispute with a client. The dispute happened in 2019 where the client with commission-based brokerage accounts complained that the asset allocations were overweight in cash.

Also, the client complained that Laura forgot about his account. He requested for $54,890 in damages and settled the case for $13,500. 

Forgetting about a client’s account is no small mistake. It shows negligence and unprofessionalism. Laura hasn’t shared her response on this dispute in her FINRA BrokerCheck disclosure. This dispute shows that Laura Harrison Ward can easily forget about your investments and ignore your interests in favor of other clients. 

Broker-Dealer Conflict

Laura Harrison Ward is registered as both a financial advisor and a broker. Being a broker leads to many conflicts of interest such as revenue sharing from mutual funds, getting preferential treatment of affiliated mutual funds and receiving transaction-based and asset-based fees on the same investment. 

While regulators keep a close eye on dual-registered fiduciaries to mitigate these conflicts, they can’t review everything. Dual-registered advisors charge their retail RIA clients higher fees than their brokerage clients. Furthemore, they prefer institutional share classes of the same underperforming mutual funds they offer to their brokerage clients. 

Studies show that most dual-registered financial advisors fall short of the fiduciary standard. 

You can’t trust the recommendations Laura makes because she might be motivated by the commissions she can earn. Ideally, you’d want your financial advisor to give you investment recommendations according to their alignment with your goals and requirements. 

However, when your advisor earns commissions from certain investments, they have incentive to ignore your requirements. Being a broker can lead to unsuitability and misrepresentation conflicts. 

Charging 12b-1 Fees

Laura Harrison Ward First Republic offers investments that charge 12b-1 fees. This fee adds no value to the investment and only inflates the cost. It’s a promotional fee that companies pay to financial advisors for marketing their products. 

There are many drawbacks to this fee. First, it allows the financial advisor to charge hidden fees, where they can charge you a significant amount without giving any justification. 

Furthermore, it is a percentage fee so the larger your portfolio is, the more you’ll have to pay. This is a huge red flag for ultra high net worth individuals and institutions because they are the worst hit with this fee. Also, this fee can compound over time, increasing your investment costs as time goes on. 

Due to these reasons, the 12b-1 fee is quite detrimental to investors with large portfolios as well as those who want to plan for long-term returns. 

Because the 12b-1 fee goes in the pockets of the advisors, they have a lucrative incentive for promoting the securities that charge this fee. Laura earns significant revenue from charging this fee so you should be particularly skeptical of working with her. After all, who wants to pay extra for offering zero benefits?

Trading Recommending Securities

Laura trades the securities she recommends to her clients. This is a huge red flag because it means she can use your funds to manipulate the returns of the security for herself. 

It’s a common tactic among shady financial advisors. Zager Fixed Income Management also uses this method to leech money off of its clients and steal their funds. Hence, you should think twice before working with such advisors. 

Conclusion

After going through the terrible terms present in her disclosures and her history of legal disputes, it’s obvious that Laura Ward is not a reliable fiduciary. She has too many flaws. 

For starters, you can’t trust her recommendations because they might be suboptimal for your portfolio. Similarly, you might end up paying more than you bargained for because of the subtle hidden fees she charges. 

Due to these reasons, it would be best to ignore Laura Harrison Ward First Republic and find a different financial advisor in San Francisco. There are plenty of options available in the market, you don’t have to stick with the one with the most issues. 

2.6Expert Score
Horrible

Laura Harrison Ward seems like a reliable advisor at first but her disclosures indicate that you can’t trust any of her recommendations and advice. She charges hidden fees and trades recommended securities. Beware of such risky advisors!

Trust
2.5
Service
3
Experience
3
Concern for Clients
2
Pros
  • None
Cons
  • Trades recommended securities
  • Broker-dealer conflict
  • Charges 12b-1 fees
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