On Advice

LPL fired Mark Lamkin. Now he's fighting back

Kentucky adviser is confident he will overcome the conflicts he's facing in life after LPL

Sep 10, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

By Bruce Kelly

LPL Financial fired Mark Lamkin last year. Now the Louisville, Ken.-based adviser is fighting for his professional life.

After Mr. Lamkin faced allegations in August 2018 that he received loans from clients, failed to disclose outside business activity and solicited investors to buy private investments, LPL "discharged" him, according to his BrokerCheck report.

The adviser responded sharply, claiming in unusually strong language that the allegations had been "conjured up by LPL as a subterfuge, to justify its efforts to damage my reputation and, as a result, take my customers," according to BrokerCheck. Mr. Lamkin, an adviser for 28 years, had been registered at LPL since 2001.

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Adding to Mr. Lamkin's professional woes, the Commonwealth of Kentucky sought to sanction him and in May moved to revoke his securities license.

He is currently registered with Calton & Associates Inc. and faces one pending customer complaint, according to his BrokerCheck profile.

In an interview this week, Mr. Lamkin sounded convinced that he would prevail. His hearing with Kentucky is next month, and he was confident that an inquiry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. would turn up nothing damaging about his work.

"LPL has been very tough in trying to put me out of business, and it will not work because I have always done the right thing for my clients," Mr. Lamkin said. "I was there for 18 years and everything was very positive. It came down to a personality conflict between me and a couple people in compliance who personally did not like me."

"I think LPL felt I was choosing the client over the firm, and they were bound and determined to get rid of me," he said.

A spokeswoman for LPL, Lauren Hoyt-Williams, declined to comment.

Krista Locke, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, which includes the state's department of financial institutions, said the department could not comment because the matter was pending litigation.

It is unusual for advisers to speak so plainly after they get fired. Attorneys will caution them to keep quiet and duck and cover out of sight. Who wants the attention?

But in the past, Mr. Lamkin had a higher profile than many other financial professionals, and perhaps that experience left him feeling comfortable in the spotlight.

When InvestmentNewsreported Mr. Lamkin's termination last year, we noted that he had been a member of the cast of the reality TV series The Apprentice in 2005. At the time, he was "fired" by Donald J. Trump, who was more than a decade away from being elected president.

"In this boardroom, we've never had a team lose so badly," Mr. Trump said sternly as he faced Mr. Lamkin and his three team members, according to an October 2005 New York Post article. "You're all fired! All four are fired!"

Meanwhile, Mr. Lamkin said, his firm has taken a hit.

"We currently have six folks at Lamkin Wealth Management, two of whom are licensed," he said. "In six to seven months, I have brought back in approximately $90 million in AUM. Prior to LPL terminating my contract and working to keep my brokers with them, my firm had approximately $479 million."

"LPL worked hard to keep three brokers," he said, adding that he has filed breach-of-contract suits against those advisers. He has not yet filed a complaint against his former firm but sounded as if he was keeping that prospect open.

"Once I win favorable rulings, and I am confident we will, I will reevaluate who I believe should be named in those suits," he said.

LPL has had high-profile disputes with advisers in the past. One such battle was with James E. "Jeb" Bashaw, who was fired by LPL in 2014.

Mr. Bashaw fought back against his old firm. In 2016, he filed a $30 million arbitration claim with Finra against LPL and its former CEO, Mark Casady, alleging that the firm stole his clients in the wake of a rigged audit of his branch office in September 2014 that led to his being fired.

In October 2017, a Finra arbitration panel ruled against Mr. Bashaw, but ordered LPL to pay Mr. Bashaw $25,000 in legal fees because the company failed to produce documents as ordered or show good cause for not producing the documents.

Finra suspended Mr. Bashaw earlier this year and found that he "falsely told LPL that he had not borrowed any money from another individual" in two annual compliance questionnaires before he was fired.

It sounds like a similar legal melee is just beginning between LPL and Mr. Lamkin.

"I believe I will be vindicated," Mr. Lamkin said. "LPL has treated me very badly."

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