Broker Spotlight: Financial Advisor Stephen Kipp

shutterstock_186471755According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Stephen Kipp (Kipp) has been the subject of at least 6 customer complaints, 1 regulatory action, and 1 employment termination. Customers have filed complaints against Kipp alleging securities law violations including, unsuitable investments, securities fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims. The employment termination was from National Planning Corporation (NPC) in August 2010 where the firm terminated Kipp alleging that the representative was permitted to resign under allegations that the he authorized his assistant to sign his name on firm related documents.

The regulatory actions brought against Kipp by FINRA alleged that when Kipp was employed by NPC permitted Julie Pritchard (Pritchard), who was also registered with NPC, to affix his signature to approximately 160 documents that were business records of NPC. FINRA found that NPC was not informed that Pritchard had placed Kipp’s signature on the records and therefore maintained these falsified documents. FINRA also found that from January 30, 2003 through June 10, 2010 Pritchard falsified the signatures of two brokers of NPC on approximately 293 total documents without disclosing that she had signed the documents instead of the brokers.

Kipp entered the securities industry in 1984. From January 2000, till August 2010, Kipp was associated with NPC. Thereafter since August 2010, Kipp has been associated with NFB Financial Group, LLC out of the firm’s Ventura, California office location.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.

The number of customer complaints against Kipp is high relative to his peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.

Gana Weinstein LLP represents investors who have suffered investment losses due to broker wrongdoing, such as unsuitable investments. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.

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