I just read a story about a former Merrill Lynch stock broker who worked for the company for 26 years and invested heavily in Merrill Lynch’s employee stock option plan. The stock option plan was his retirement account. The stock broker rose through the ranks at Merrill Lynch ultimately becoming a a first vice president and a senior financial consultant. The broker retired in the summer of 2008.
Everyone knows what happened to Merrill Lynch. They were terribly managed, lost millions of dollars, and were purchased by Bank of America. Guess what happened to the value of the retired stock broker’s retirement account? It was almost wiped out! The account dropped from a value approaching $4 million to $200,000.
The stock broker must now return to the job market and selling stocks and providing investment advice is all that he knows. Guess what? He signed a noncompete with Merrill Lynch basically preventing him from earning a living doing the one thing he knows…selling stocks and providing financial advice.
My Take: Fight these agreements to the bitter end…they are unfair and many are unenforceable.