Edward Jones — best interest of client
My husband and I invested our inheritance and retirement accounts with Edward Jones when we moved to Chapel Hill, N.C. in 1997. Jerry Bergner was our investment counselor. My husband had dementia (he passed away in 2002) and I was not well-versed in financial matters, including understanding budgeting. Because my husband was not able to help me in many different aspects of our lives, especially financial, I had to rely on Jerry to go over budget details with me. We moved to Florida in 2000 to escape the escalating taxes in Chapel Hill and all of my conversations with Jerry were over the phone. At one point he told me he "really didn't like doing this" . I was also helping my stepson pay for therapy since he had been in a horrific accident in which a young man ran headlong into his truck. Jeff's back was very traumatized and his insurance for the therapy ran out after a year. His payments were $1500 a month plus helping him with his living expenses. Through all of this I have Chronic Fatigue and am working full-time plus dealing with a husband who has dementia and needs someone with him whenever I left the house. Jerry kept telling me that I could only have a 6% cash outgo but he did not help me draw hard lines on where to cut the expenses. He said that if I kept outlaying this kind of money I would "end up in an apartement". I told him I did not know what else to do. Finally he told me that "if it were his family he would probably do the same thing" He could have at least suggested that Jeff could apply for disability, something that I never really thought of. I had talked with another financial advisor in Florida who said he would "help me stop the leak" so I talked with Jerry about the prospectus this advisor sent me.See Top 10 Worst Companies in Chapel Hill, NCJerry became quite irritated and told me that "my portfolio is balanced and not-over invested in stocks as the other financial advisor was suggesting and no, he did not need to read the prospectus." The more conservative advisor wanted to talk with me about annuities and when I mentioned this to Jerry he told me that "annuities can be tricky" which further discouraged me from using this advisor.
From what Jerry was telling me, I apparently had no other alternative to paying out so much money every month for Jeff's expenses other than to quit sending Jeff the money altogether. When 9/11 happened, we lost $100, 000 and needless to say, I have no investments left because Jerry would not help me figure out what to do about helping out Jeff other than to stop helping him. I called a law office, Meyer-Wilson, who helped other Edward Jones clients recoup money that was misdirected from mutual funds. They told me that I very well could have had a law suit against Edward Jones because it is "incumbent upon the company to act in the best interest of the client" which obviously is not what Mr. Bergner did. When I sent a complaint in to Edward Jones, I received this "cover our ###" letter from the complaint department lady saying that Jerry did nothing wrong, blah, blah, blah.
The Meyer-Wilson lawyer told me that Edward Jones is saved from a lawsuit against them because it is now "time-barred' since it has been over 6 years since the incident (2001). I truly wish I had followed my own instinct and transferred my investments to the financial advisor who was going to help me "stop the leak" instead of being intimidated by Mr. Bergner's misguided advice.
I am also sending a copy of this to Edward Jones Corporate Offices. Ought to be interesting to see what type of cover-up letter they send.
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