Merrill Boots $1.4-Billion Boston Broker over Expense Account Filing
Merrill Lynch has set off rumblings at one of its Boston branches after axing a high-ranked broker who was with the company for two decades and was managing nearly $1.4 billion of client assets.
Sandy M. Galuppo was discharged after “conduct including improper submission of personal expenses for reimbursement, resulting in management’s loss of confidence,” according to the single disclosure event listed on his BrokerCheck record. He was fired on October 3, according to the regulatory database.
Galuppo, who was head of a corporate stock plan team managing $15 billion and who has been ranked by several publications as a top industry advisor in the past three years, did not respond to a call for comment. A Merrill spokesman declined to elaborate on the BrokerCheck notation.
A former hockey goalie who played one NHL game with the Florida Panthers in 1994, Galuppo had a strong reputation in the Boston region, said a competitor who knows the broker and believes that he was victimized by overzealous compliance officials who seized on careless mistakes.
“Out of the hundreds of things they audited they found a handful of incorrect submissions,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity and believes Galuppo was trying to take advantage of a permissible pre-allotment of expenses for tax purposes. “It wasn’t like he tried to have a bar mitzvah that he ran through his expense account.”
The Bank of America-owned brokerage firm has been aggressive in recent years in retaliating against prominent advisors as a deterrence mechanism and an appeasement to regulators instead of relying on the more common tactic of heightened supervision, said Tom Lewis, a plaintiff’s and employee lawyer with Stevens & Lee in New Jersey. In August it gave walking papers to a 50-year employee for allegedly selling away and unauthorized trading.
“To terminate someone’s effective career over an expense reimbursement seems to be a little drastic,” said Lewis, who emphasized that he does not know Galuppo or the terms of his separation. Lewis represents former Merrill brokers in upstate New York who were fired for failing to disclose an outside business investment.
The source familiar with Galuppo’s case said one of his colleagues informed the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority of the broker’s expense-account peccadillo. A Finra spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Barron’s listed Galuppo as a top advisor in Massachusetts in 2013, while Wealth Management ranked him in its roster of top 100 wirehouse advisors this year. He cracked the Financial Times’ ranking of the top 400 advisors in 2014.
Galuppo, who is not currently registered, had been with Merrill for his entire brokerage career, first registering with the firm in September 1995. He held the title of managing director, according to his LinkedIn profile, which Merrill bestows on brokers with a multi-year track record of multi-million-dollar production.