Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch – Ignoring Clients’ Interests

If you’re looking for a wealth management firm in Chicago, you might come across the name of Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch. She might seem like a simple financial advisor but she uses many shady tactics to take advantage of her clients. 

Before you trust her with the financial future of your family, it would be best to review the problematic provisions in her terms and conditions. This way, you can make a better-informed decision on whether you should trust her or not:

Who is Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch?

Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch is a financial advisor in Chicago, Illinois. Her firm’s address is 110 N Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606, US and her contact number is 312-696-7620. 

Sharon’s office opens from 8 AM to 4:30 PM on weekdays. The name of her firm is the Oberlander Timmerwilke Group. Her firm claims to focus on understanding the personal goals of their clients to develop a personalized financial approach for them. 

The two managing directors of this firm are Sharon Oberlander and Andy Timmerwilke. Other notable people at this firm include Annette Seaberg, Erica Khan, Shanda McFadden, and Thomas Ratos. 

This firm focuses primarily on high net worth individuals and families. As a part of Merrill Lynch, this firm can offer various services to its clients including: 

  • Succession planning
  • Education funding
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Donor-advised funds
  • Securities-based lending
  • Concentrated stock management
  • Trust & estate planning services
  • Charitable trusts
  • Structured lending

And plenty of others. 

This firm makes many misleading claims about how much it cares about its clients. At first, the claims and accolades of this firm might seem quite attractive. But they are meant to trap investors in unfavorable agreements. 

In the next section of this review, you’ll learn about the problematic provisions present in Sharon’s disclosures:

Red Flags Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch is Trying to Hide

Before you start working with any financial advisor, it’s best to check their FINRA BrokerCheck listing. According to the FINRA BrokerCheck profile of Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch, she is facing a major client dispute currently. 

One of her clients filed a legal dispute against her on 6-11-2021. Here, the client alleges an omission of material fact regarding her co-trustee and co-partnership status upon the death of her mother. She also alleged that Sharon did not act in furtherance of the customers’ best interest. 

Keep in mind that it’s quite rare for such disputes to end in the client’s favor. That’s because shady advisors like Sharon make their clients sign multiple waivers which free them of any responsibility whatsoever. The Walker Group Morgan Stanley is another example of such advisors.

Broker-Dealer Conflict

A huge issue in the disclosures of Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch is that she is dual-registered as a broker and an advisor. This leads to many conflicts of interest such as receiving asset-based fees and transaction-based commissions on the same investment, sharing revenue from mutual funds, and giving preferential treatment to affiliated mutual funds. 

While regulatory authorities are always trying to keep dual-registered brokers in check, they can’t practically monitor every single recommendation they make. 

Another issue with such brokers is that they charge their retail RIA clients higher fees than their brokerage clients. Also, they prefer institutional share classes of the same underperforming mutual funds they offer brokerage clients. Research shows that many dual-registered investment advisors fall short of the fiduciary standard. 

This simply means you can’t trust the recommendations Sharon and her team make. They might ignore your financial goals and requirements for their personal profits. 

Charging Hidden Fees

Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch recommends investments that charge 12b-1 fees. This is a highly notorious practice in the finance industry because it allows advisors to charge hidden fees. 

The 12b-1 fee is a variable fee and many suspicious advisors have used it to inflate their client’s costs. Apart from the risk of paying hidden fees, you also face the risk of paying extra for getting returns. 

That’s because the 12b-1 fee is a promotional fee companies pay to brokers for marketing their products. It doesn’t reflect any quality or value. Apart from costing higher, investments that charge 12b-1 fee aren’t any different from other investments. 

Another drawback of the 12b-1 fee is that it’s a percentage fee. This means how much fees you pay depends on the size of your portfolio. Being a percentage fee makes it unsuitable for investors with large portfolios. 

However, because it goes straight into the broker’s pockets, advisors tend to prefer investments that charge a 12b-1 fee over others. 

Conclusion

Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch might make many boastful claims about how much her firm cares about its clients but they are all lies. Her firm’s terms and conditions make it more profitable for them to ignore their clients’ requirements. 

They allow themselves to charge hidden fees and avoid any responsibility. Certainly, you’ll be entering a bad deal when you hand Sharon your business. 

Find a different wealth advisor and avoid Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch. 

2.6Expert Score
Sleazy and Shady

Sharon Oberlander Merrill Lynch is a crooked wealth advisor who allows her firm to charge hidden fees. She also uses various unethical tactics to mislead investors into handing her their accounts. It would be safer to work with a different wealth advisor.

Trust
3
Experience
2.5
Service
3
Concern for Clients
2
Pros
  • None
Cons
  • Facing a dispute for not acting in the client's interest
  • Broker-dealer conflict
  • Charging hidden fees
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