Financial advisors are taking heed – both on and off the job – with a lawsuit alleging a Bay Street player made a mockery of himself and his career during a “drunken escapade” in Arkansas.
“Even if the advisor can separate business and pleasure, to me, if you’re out there and asking people for their trust (and their money), you need to earn it,” Ryan Kerr of Astrolabe Financial Group Inc. tells WP. “A lot of that is in the public presentation of yourself. (These days), no one is off the clock.”
A lawsuit, filed last week, claims Michael “Wek” Wekerle – co-founder of Difference Capital Financial Inc. – blew an air horn and yelled profanity in the Capital Hotel lobby in Arkansas, dropped his pants exposing himself in the hotel bar, licked a woman’s foot, and attempted to throw a hotel valet over his shoulder. The millionaire allegedly flew into Little Rock, Ark., on a private jet on Oct. 22, 2010.
A hotel security report indicates that Wekerle entered the hotel “with a fanny pack full of money” and began “throwing it everywhere,” while a security video shows him whisking a woman off her feet and carrying her inside the hotel. The hotel valet is suing for “at least” $US150, 000 in damages, after suffering a permanent injury to his arm, according to his lawyer, Bud Whetstone.
Though the allegations have not been proven in court, advisors agree damages could be considerable, not just for this big whig’s pocket book, but his reputation.
“Clients may want to take a second look … show that they’re not going to put up with this behaviour,” said Janet Freedman of Finance Matters Ltd. in Toronto. “It reflects badly on the financial industry, in general.”
“It would be up to each client to decide if they are comfortable working with this person,” added Kerr. “(But), if someone has been working with him a long time and knows him better and still feels confident … then it’s their right to choose to work with him (again).”
In a statement emailed to the Toronto Star, Wekerle said he was not proud of the incident – which occurred at a “challenging time” after losing his wife to a heart attack in March 2010 – but he will dispute certain allegations. His lawyer Jeff Kehoe said plans are in the works to “defend this vigorously.”