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Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch is a Scammer (Updated 2024)

If you’re looking for a financial advisory firm in Jupiter, Florida, you might come across the name of Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch. He is a notorious advisor who has faced multiple disputes in his career for ignoring his clients’ interests. The following review will shed light on these disputes and the problematic provisions present in his disclosures: 

Who is Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch

Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch is a financial advisor based in Jupiter, Florida. His address is 900 US-1 Suite 400, Jupiter, FL 33477, US and his contact number is 561-775-8157. Stephen’s office opens from 9 AM to 4 PM. 

Stephen is the managing director of the RSM Group. This firm claims to offer customized services to select clients and their families. Other notable people at this firm include Todd Stankiewicz, Graham Mandl, Julie Ackerman, and Joseph Castiglie. 

The firm caters to ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their families. Some of the services available with this advisory firm include liquidity event strategies, discretionary investment management, philanthropic strategies, trust and estate planning services, and concentrated stock strategies.  

Although this firm makes plenty of boastful claims about its services, its disclosures tell an entirely different story. According to the terms and conditions of this firm, it’s more beneficial for the advisors at the RS Group to ignore your interests when giving recommendations. 

More on this in the next section of this review: 

Red Flags in Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch

The biggest reason why you shouldn’t trust Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch is the number of legal disputes he has had with his clients. Whenever you’re looking for a financial advisor, it’s best to examine their FINRA BrokerCheck profile. It would tell you about the advisor’s years of experience, the exams they have passed, their employment history, and most importantly, the disputes they have had with their clients. 

According to the FINRA BrokerCheck listing of Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch, he has had four disputes with different clients. 

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Did You Know?

‘Breach of Contract’ is a condition when, despite of lawful abiding, one of the parties is not able to fulfil the obligations of the contract. The breach of contract can lead to varying consequences depending on the severity.

The first dispute happened in 1999. Here, the client alleged breach of contract and requested $256,000 in damages. Stephen’s firm settled this matter for $131,250 and claimed that it happened because of criminal wrongdoing by the management of a hospital system. 

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His second dispute happened in 2000. Here, the client alleged failure to disclose risk and requested $180,000 in damages. Stephen’s firm settled the matter for $70,000 and claimed that they settled the matter to avoid the costs of litigation. 

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In 2003, Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch faced his third dispute. Here, the client alleged misrepresentation and demanded $57,244.81 in damages. But the firm denied the claims without specifying any reasons. There is very little information available on this dispute. 

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Stephen faced his fourth dispute in 2005. Here, the client alleged that he failed to follow her instructions on how to invest her funds and that she didn’t receive an additional $96,125 in tax-free income which she should have had in 2005. 

She requested $96,125 in damages but abandoned the claim for some reason. There isn’t much information available on the last two disputes. 

Charging 12b-1 Fees

A prominent red flag in Stephen Ruvituso’s services is that his firm recommends investments that charge 12b-1 fees. This is a marketing fee that doesn’t add any value to the security. It only inflates the cost of the investment. 

The 12b-1 fees artificially increase the cost of an investment and many investors are unaware of it. Companies pay this fee to brokers for promoting their investment products. As a result, many advisors prefer recommending investments that charge this fee. 

However, the 12b-1 fee is a percentage fee. This means the investment cost will increase according to the size of your portfolio. Hence, the 12b-1 fee is particularly detrimental for investors with significant portfolios, the primary market segment Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch targets. 

You should avoid paying this fee because it’s variable. It allows the advisory firm to ramp up hidden fees, which can eat away your capital substantially over the years. 

Stephen Ruvituso Merrill Lynch and his team trade the investments they recommend to their clients. This leads to various conflicts of interest.

It allows them to use their clients’ funds for personal profits. Stephen’s team caters only to ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families. They can use their portfolios to manipulate the returns of certain investments and generate profits for themselves. 

For example, many financial advisors who trade the recommended securities tend to front-run their investments. 

Conclusion

After going through his history of legal disputes and his current provisions, it’s obvious that Stephen doesn’t care about his clients. 

Hence, you should look for a different advisory firm that cares about its clients and their successes. There are plenty of options available in the industry. 

2.5Expert Score
Not worth the risk

Stephen has a history of facing legal complaints and his current provisions have multiple problematic clauses. He is trying to manipulate investors into entering a bad deal. Avoid such advisors at all costs.

Trust
2
Experience
2.5
Service
3
Concern for Clients
2.5
Pros
  • None
Cons
  • Faced multiple disputes
  • Trading recommended securities
  • Charging 12b-1 fees

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