After settling client dispute, Ameriprise wins $675K award against barred advisor
A former Ameriprise broker who was barred last year by FINRA was ordered to pay her former employer $675,000 over a customer complaint that the firm settled, according to a FINRA arbitration panel decision.
It’s the latest in an ongoing spat between former advisor Li-Lin Hsu and Ameriprise, which had previously filed a lawsuit alleging that she used company stationery to pass herself off as an Ameriprise advisor after she was fired in 2015.
In the arbitration case, the Glendale, California-based Hsu was accused of misappropriating a client's investment funds, according to a copy of the arbitration award. Rather than pursue Hsu, the client filed an arbitration claim against Ameriprise in September 2015, faulting the firm for not informing her that Hsu had been suspended "due to repeated violations of company policy and applicable law."
Ameriprise, which reached a settlement with the client, went after Hsu, filing a third-party arbitration claim against its former employee.
The customer was seeking $805,370 in damages, according to the award. She got $675,000 in the settlement. She withdrew her arbitration claim against Ameriprise in April 2017, according to a copy of the arbitration award.
Hsu was slated to represent herself during the arbitration but failed to show up at the hearing. She did not return an email seeking comment.
Hsu had a troubled history with Ameriprise, beginning with her dismissal in March 2015 for "company policy violations related to maintaining a beneficiary relationship with a client, complaint handling, commingling of funds, and conducting business with a foreign client," according to a note filed by the firm in her FINRA BrokerCheck record.
After her departure, Ameriprise took legal action against her when it discovered that she was passing herself off as an Ameriprise financial advisor, according to a lawsuit it filed in federal court in California. In addition to claiming on her Facebook and LinkedIn profiles that she was still employed at Ameriprise, Hsu used the firm's stationery to reach out to customers, Ameriprise claimed. She also posted images of the firm's proprietary computer software and an Ameriprise financial form on her Facebook page, according to the lawsuit.
The firm sought a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction ordering Hsu to stop claiming to be an Ameriprise advisor and to cease using its proprietary forms, among other things. The firm was granted a preliminary injunction in June.
“We are pleased by the FINRA decision to hold Hsu accountable for her actions," Kathleen McClung, a spokeswoman for Ameriprise, said in a statement.
Hsu worked for Ameriprise from January 2006 to March 2015, according to BrokerCheck records. She jumped to RIA firm Transglobal Advisory in Pasadena, California, in April 2015, but is no longer employed there.
Hsu may have other legal woes brewing. She was named in another arbitration involving individuals claiming that Hsu advised them to purchase a failing and unprofitable business for her personal gain and that she illegally borrowed money from them, according to BrokerCheck records. The plaintiffs are seeking $1 million in damages.