Former Cetera Advisor Wins $500,000 Arbitration Award Over Failed M&A Deal

Posted on May 3rd, 2023 at 1:13 PM
Former Cetera Advisor Wins $500,000 Arbitration Award Over Failed M&A Deal

From the desk of Jim Eccleston at Eccleston Law 

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel has awarded nearly $500,000 to a former Cetera Financial Group advisor, Betsy Jo Merritt, after an agreement to sell her branch fell through. 

The arbitration claim stemmed from Merritt’s agreement to sell her branch for $2.1 million to a then-Cetera financial advisor named Joseph Singleton. However, Janice and John Cartwright of Long Beach, California-based CLG Wealth Management allegedly undercut the deal and recruited two of Merritt’s advisors to their own firm. Cetera was initially a defendant in the case, but Merritt voluntarily dismissed the claims against Cetera as part of a November 2022 settlement.

Merritt and Singleton signed a binding letter in December 2015 outlining Merritt's intent to sell her branch, which received a $1.9 million valuation. John Cartwright allegedly recruited the two highest-producing advisors to CLG Wealth Management by promising a higher payout. Singleton departed Cetera by that fall as he “had seen the writing on the wall and knew there was no longer any reason to purchase Ms. Merritt’s business”, according to the award. Merritt and Singleton initially sought a total of $10.8 million in damages in their May 2018 FINRA arbitration filing.


Eccleston Law LLC represents financial advisors and investors nationwide in partnership disputes, securities, employment, transition, regulatory and disciplinary matters.


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I am grateful to have found an outstanding law firm that specializes in securities matters. My lawyers were extremely knowledgeable, diligent, and are skilled litigators. No stone was left upturned. As a result of their experience and tenacity, the arbitration proceeding was dismissed in my favor.

Michael E.


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