Ex-Wells Fargo advisor suspended over client estate disclosure lapse
A former Wells Fargo advisor was suspended from the industry this week for allegedly neglecting to tell Wells Fargo that a 97-year-old client had named him as beneficiary and co-executor of her estate, according to his settlement with FINRA.
Cecil Byers, a former registered rep with Wells Fargo in Beaumont, Texas, was prohibited from accepting beneficiary or fiduciary appointments from clients without the permission of Wells Fargo's compliance department, the regulator said.
Byers worked with the client for approximately 30 years prior to her death at the age of 97, according to the settlement. He allegedly became aware of the terms of the client's will two days before she died in October 2014.
Wells Fargo learned of Byers's appointments two months later when it received notice of probate litigation objecting to Byers being named in the will, according to FINRA. He did not inherit any funds from the estate as he removed himself as co-executor almost immediately after the filing of the probate petition, FINRA said.
Byers did not respond to a voice message left at Houston-based independent broker-dealer Sunbelt Securities, where he now works. He agreed to a two-month suspension and a $10,000 fine without admitting or denying the allegations against him.
His attorney, Robert Long of Dallas law firm Bell Nunnally & Martin, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Byers worked for Wells Fargo from December 2010 to July 2015, when he voluntarily resigned, according to his BrokerCheck report. In a statement in the report, Byers said that the client was a long-time friend.
Byers has been with Sunbelt Securities since August 2015, BrokerCheck records show. His two-month suspension begins December 4.
Emily Acquisto, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, declined to comment on the matter.