Client funds at a $8.6 billion RIA firm are safe following the apparent suicide of the company's CEO, says the firm's chairman, prominent wealth management executive Steve Lockshin.

David R. Zier, who was CEO at Convergent Wealth Advisors, based in Potomac, Md., died on Oct. 15; Lockshin confirms that the death appeared to be a suicide.

"This was a shock to everyone but it had nothing to do with Convergent," Lockshin says. "The clients' assets are all fine."

'IRREGULARITIES' REPORTED

Zier's death occurred after "irregularities came to light in an investment fund that Zier had been running outside Convergent," Barron's first reported over the weekend.

Zier ran that fund for his friends and family, outside of Convergent, Lockshin says. He adds that the money in that fund was not part of the assets managed by Convergent -- although, he notes, it could have been possible for a client to have invested separately in the fund.

"So, let's say Dave's best friend is in the fund -- and I'm just making this up -- and also is Convergent client," Lockshin said, "Those two facts are independent of each other."

Convergent's president and COO, Doug Wolford, who handles most of the day-to-day operations of the firm, failed to return several requests for comment. When finally reached by phone, said he was in a meeting and unable to talk.

Privately owned City National, based in Los Angeles, bought Convergent in 2007. The bank's wealth management division has about $61.2 billion in assets under management, according to a bank spokeswoman.

Barron's had named Zier the No. 5 top independent investment advisor this year.

FACTS UNKNOWN

Not all facts are known -- and "may never be," Lockshin says -- about what transpired with Zier's outside fund, called ZAM, for Zier Asset Management.

He says he first hired Zier at Convergent in the late 1990s. "We really operated like partners," Lockshin says. "He was like a brother to me, full of vigor, full of life, very positive and always made you laugh, always enjoyed a good time and always did the right thing. That was my experience with him."

"I think he just made a bad decision," Lockshin adds --"because whatever he may have done, you can pretty much fix most problems."

A memorial held for Zier at his home -- prior to the Barron's report -- attracted about 400 people, Lockshin says.

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