A JPMorgan Chase & Co. financial adviser lost the first round in an unusual public spat with the firm over her allegations that private bankers in a different unit have been “ruthlessly” poaching her clients since she joined last year.
A federal judge on Wednesday denied Gwen Campbell’s request to temporarily bar fellow bankers at JPMorgan from soliciting business with clients she brought from Bank of America Corp. while she pursues a complaint against her current employer in arbitration.
Campbell’s roster of clients includes former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential.
U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. said Campbell hadn’t shown the need for “extraordinary interim relief,” and encouraged both sides to resolve the dispute through arbitration.
“This is a complex (and apparently messy) high-stakes business dispute that the arbitrator will have to sift through on a fully developed record,” he said in his order.
Campbell, who joined JPMorgan in October 2020 with $1.1 billion in assets under management, alleged in a lawsuit filed Dec. 2 that she “was lured into a shark tank” when the biggest U.S. bank recruited her from Bank of America.
Campbell arrived at JPMorgan “to great fanfare” — including a personal call from Chief Executive Jamie Dimon — as part of JPMorgan Advisors’ expansion efforts, according to the lawsuit. In the 13 months since, other JPMorgan bankers have siphoned business, frozen her out of deals, and bad-mouthed her to clients, all in violation of her employment contract, she alleged.
The suit describes a “concerted plan to poach one of her most high-profile clients, a former professional athlete,” despite Campbell being assured that the private bank would not compete for her existing clients.
JPMorgan has denied the claims, saying Campbell hasn’t lost any clients while working for the bank — an assertion the judge noted in his order.
JPMorgan inherited the unit Campbell joined, now called JPMorgan Advisors, from Bear Stearns when it bought that firm in 2008. It’s part of JPMorgan’s larger U.S. wealth management unit, created two years ago within the bank’s sprawling consumer arm and helmed by Kristin Lemkau. That’s separate from the private bank, which sits in JPMorgan’s asset and wealth management unit.
The suit also alleges that Campbell, an immuno-compromised single mother of two, was promised a home office setup to work remotely, but she has been denied “reliable access to the firm’s technological systems for months.” The lack of “reasonable” work-from-home accommodations interferes with Campbell’s ability to service her clients, she claims.
Campbell said in the suit she intended to pursue claims in private arbitration for breach of contract, fraud, gender discrimination and failure to accommodate her health needs during the pandemic. Her lawyer said at a Dec. 9 hearing that the arbitration complaint was filed that day.
The ruling Wednesday “didn’t cast any doubt on Ms. Campbell’s claims of bank wrongdoing,” Jennifer Selendy, Campbell’s lawyer, said in a statement. “We’re very confident the arbitrator will be persuaded by the evidence, and we look forward to presenting the full record.”
The case is Campbell v. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, 21-cv-9309, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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