Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch – A Shady Advisor

If you’re searching for wealth advisors in Chicago’s market, you might come across the name of Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch. He is a financial advisor with a history of misrepresentation. 

Although he has many accolades under his name, it’s best to check the good and the bad. This way, you can be certain of your decision and avoid making a severe mistake. In the following review, you’ll learn about the tainted past of Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch and his current shady practices: 

Who is Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch? 

Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch is a financial advisor based in Chicago, Illinois. His office is located at 110 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, US and his contact number is 312-696-7645. 

Mark Thorndyke runs the Thorndyke Sheppard Group with David Sheppard. The firm claims to focus on serving individuals, small businesses and families. They claim to help their clients design, apply, and review their wealth management strategies periodically. 

The firm claims that it focuses on using wealth to turn goals into reality. Apart from the managing directors, other notable people at this firm include David Ponsot, Rees Mason, Sally Blume-Kelly, and James Murphy. 

Some of the various services available at Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch’s firm include trust & estate planning services, health savings accounts, succession planning, securities-based lending, exchange funds, long-term care insurance, charitable trusts, structured lending, concentrated stock management, donor-advised funds, and more. 

Even though Mark and his team make plenty of boastful claims about how much they care, their terms & conditions disagree with them. According to their disclosures, this firm doesn’t care about its client at all. The only thing they care about is their profits. 

In the next section of this review, you’ll learn about the terms in disclosures which prove Mark doesn’t care about his clients’ success: 

Issues Mark Thorndyke is Trying to Hide from You

$440,000+ Dispute with a Client

Before you start a professional relationship with any wealth advisor, it’s best to check their past. It helps you determine whether they are worth your trust or not. The most effective way to go about this process is to check the FINRA BrokerCheck listing of the advisor. 

It’s a vast database where you can learn about your advisor’s state licenses, certifications, employers, and their disputes with clients. Mark Thorndyke’s FINRA BrokerCheck listing shows one legal dispute. 

This dispute occurred in 2011. Here, the client alleged unsuitable investment recommendations and misrepresentation from December 2007 to September 2010. They requested $445,232 in damages and settled the case for $75,000. 

In response to this dispute, Mark said that his firm settled the matter only to avoid the cost of litigation. 

However, this dispute shows that Mark has a history of misrepresentation. Filing a legal dispute against a broker is taxing for the investor as well. So, it’s very rare for an advisor to face a dispute for misrepresentation. 

Be cautious of working with such advisors. Another wealth advisory firm that has a history of misrepresentation is the Gouraige Kaplan Ravinet Team UBS

Putting Clients at Excessive Risk

Mark and his firm charge performance-based fees, a highly notorious practice in the finance industry. This fee structure incentivizes him and his firm to implement high-risk strategies. 

Such strategies are unsuitable for most portfolio types, especially portfolios looking for long-term growth and returns. 

That’s because high-risk strategies tend to fail or generate poor returns the longer they are implemented. But they are capable of showing “fast” growth in the short-term. Due to this, the advisor can charge you hefty performance-based fee for the duration. 

Charging Hidden Fees

A huge risk of working with Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch and his firm is that he charges hidden fees. His firm recommends investments that charge 12b-1 fees. This is a promotional fee which companies pay to his firm for marketing their investment products. Also, this is a variable fee so the firm can increase it artificially to charge hidden fees. 

The 12b-1 fee doesn’t reflect any actual value. This fee only increases the cost of the investment without offering any additional benefits. 

Some might think that the investments that charge this fee might offer higher returns. But they are mistaken. 

According to an SEC study, investments that charge 12b-1 fee offer the same returns as the investments that don’t charge this fee. In fact, investments charging 12b-1 fee tend to offer poorer ROI because their cost is higher. 

Hence, it would be best to avoid investments that charge this fee.

Conclusion

Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch claims to be a skilled wealth advisor who puts his clients’ interests ahead of his own. But they are all lies. 

The truth is, the Thorndyke Sheppard Group has multiple shady disclosures which put their clients in problematic situations. It would be best to avoid this firm at all costs if you value your financial security. 

2.9Expert Score
Difficult to work with

Mark Thorndyke Merrill Lynch makes multiple misleading claims about his firm and his services. There are numerous conflicts of interest present in his disclosures. This suggests that it would be quite detrimental to work with him and his firm.

Trust
3
Experience
2.5
Service
3.5
Concern for Clients
2.5
Pros
  • None
Cons
  • Faced a $440,000+ dispute
  • Charging hidden fees
  • Putting clients at excessive risk
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