Boston-based Edelman Financial Engines, an RIA with more than $245 billion in client assets under management, is suing rival Mariner Wealth Advisors of Overland Park, Kan., for allegedly poaching advisors with more than $621 million in client assets and misappropriating trade secrets.

The complaint was filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas.

Mariner willfully stole “the fruits of Edelman’s multimillion dollar investments in marketing and client goodwill,” intending to “run Edelman out of business,” the lawsuit says. Edelman is seeking “damages and injunctive relief” to prevent further harm to its business.

“Firms at the top of their industries often find themselves the focus of third parties that prefer to take illegal shortcuts rather than grow a business through their own innovation and organic efforts,” Edelman Financial Engines (EFE) said in a statement over the weekend. “The complaint we filed describes in great detail a prolonged pattern of deceptive actions used to steal EFE’s confidential and proprietary business information, mislead our employees, and misappropriate our clients and the assets we manage for them. We are taking this step to put a stop to these unlawful practices.”

Mariner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Edelman, which provides financial planning, investment management and retirement income services, was formed in 2018 with the merger of Financial Engines and Edelman Financial Services. Mariner, which manages some $66 billion in client assets, opened in 2006. Edelman calls the company a “direct competitor.”

In court documents, Edelman said it has a unique business model in that it spends millions of dollars on marketing to bring in clients rather than making its advisors generate their own leads to find clients. That, in part, is why its client information is so vital to its business, it said, and why client confidentiality is crucially important.

“We plan to litigate this matter vigorously in order to protect the significant investments EFE makes to grow business and provide our clients with the security, privacy and superior investment advisory and financial planning services that they have come to expect from us,” Edelman said.

According to the complaint, Mariner aggressively poached financial planners, incentivizing them to disclose proprietary client information that “Edelman has spent decades curating” in violation of their employment agreements. Edelman claims to have lost at least 851 clients representing more than $621 million in assets under management.

Mariner enticed Edelman professionals by saying Edelman is “a sinking ship” and “everyone is jumping overboard.” It’s alleged to have published similarly “defamatory statements” about Edelman, the lawsuit says.

This “pattern of unlawful activity” is continuing to happen, the lawsuit says. 

The lawsuit accuses Mariner of violating trade secrets, conspiring to misappropriate trade secrets, interfering with employee contracts, interfering with business relations, engaging in unfair competition, and defamation.

Edelman requested the “full amount” of compensatory and punitive damages “allowed by law,” in addition to attorney fees and court costs.

Edelman asked the court to issue an order permanently enjoining Mariner from continuing to engage in the alleged misconduct.