Merrill Lynch star veteran broker Bruce Lee, whose Chicago team managed nearly $3 billion in client assets, was fired for unknown reasons, according to sources with knowledge of the move.
Mr. Lee, who was fired on Friday, was a perennial member of the closely watched Barron's lists for top financial advisers across the United States. Just this year, Barron's ranked Mr. Lee No. 79 on a list of "Top 100 Financial Advisors" in the country. According to the list, Mr. Lee and his team had $2.9 billion in client assets, and Mr. Lee's typical client had a net worth of $100 million.
"That's huge," said Casey Knight, an industry recruiter, after being told of Mr. Lee's departure from Merrill Lynch. "He's been on the Barron's list forever."
Mr. Lee, who could not be reached to comment, was part of Merrill's elite Private Banking and Investment Group, PBIG.
Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Merrill Lynch, confirmed that Mr. Lee no longer worked for the firm but declined to comment further.
Broker-dealers have several weeks to report the reasons why an employee was fired. According to his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Lee is still registered with Merrill Lynch.
Mr. Lee started his career at Bear Stearns in 1986, according to BrokerCheck, before landing at Credit Suisse in 2004. Mr. Lee worked there until 2011 before moving to Merrill Lynch. He has worked for eight firms in his career with only one customer complaint, in which a client in 2013 alleged unsuitable investment recommendations. The investor complaint was eventually denied, according to Mr. Lee's BrokerCheck profile.