Add one more financial professional to the list of those who have lost jobs after being accused of making racist comments; Prudential Financial last week fired registered rep James T. Hilbrant, who earlier this month was accused of telling a Korean-American social media star to “go back to Wuhan” while at a southern California restaurant, according to reports.
With many in the United States keenly aware of issues of social and racial justice in the wake of protests after police killings, some in the broad financial services industry have failed to cover themselves in glory when it comes to comments about race.
In June, Raymond James Financial Inc., citing its “zero tolerance for racism,” fired a senior bond manager after he and a woman were caught on video confronting a San Francisco man who was stenciling the Black Lives Matter slogan on the property where he lives.
In May, Franklin Templeton fired an employee after a confrontation she had with an African American man in Central Park that was caught on video.
“There is no PR spin for racism,” said Jason Lahita, founding partner of StreetCred PR. “The best way to avoid being in the press with regard to something like this is to stop being a racist. Unfortunately for some, they are too far gone.”
Now, add a Prudential Financial rep to the list.
Entrepreneur Sophia Chang this month said that a man she later identified as Hilbrant made direct eye contact with her and her sister while the pair ate dinner at a restaurant in Newport Beach, California, and said “go back to Wuhan” as he headed to the bathroom, according to the New York Post.
“Once he returned, we asked him why he would say that and he goes, ‘I don’t speak Chinese, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Chang wrote on Instagram.
“After thoroughly investigating the incident in Newport Beach, we have made the decision to end our relationship with the financial representative involved,” Prudential wrote last Tuesday on Twitter.
A spokesperson for Prudential, Andrew Simonelli, confirmed the statement.
According to his BrokerCheck report, Hilbrant worked for Prudential’s broker-dealer, Pruco Securities, for less than a year and had been a registered rep since 2015. He stopped being registered there, meaning he stopped working there, as of last Thursday, according to the report.
There is no mention of his being terminated from Pruco on the BrokerCheck report. He is not registered with another broker-dealer.
Hilbrant could not be reached for comment and his LinkedIn page has been taken down.
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