Kirk Badii Has Six Customer Complaints and Multiple Terminations

shutterstock_71240-300x183According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Kirk Badii (Badii) has at least eight disclosable events.  These events include six customer complaints alleging that Badii engaged in some form of investment related misconduct in the handling of the client’s accounts.  In addition, Badii has been terminated for cause by two firms.  Badii is currently employed by Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial).  Badii’s customer complaints alleges that Kemp recommended unsuitable investments in different investment products including alternative investments among other allegations and complaints.

In December 2021 a customer complained that Badii violated the securities laws by alleging that Badii made unsuitable investment recommendations to an elderly homemaker, mismanaged her accounts by recommending alternative investments that were unsuitable. The Claimant states that credit lines were established to qualify the Claimant for those alternative investment purchases as well as using those credit lines to make distributions to Claimant’s family which family believed to be from income generated from investments.  Additional accounts were alleged to be established that contained concentrated unsuitable investments and that trading was made in these accounts on a discretionary basis without being approved for discretionary trading specific to reverse convertible securities. The investor alleged damages of $3 million and the claim is currently pending.

In August 2018 UBS terminated Badii alleging that he was discharged after firm review found that FA: (i) violated firm’s social media policy and blocked management’s ability to monitor his social media and (ii) violated firm’s KYC/AML policy in connection with the onboarding of certain clients and prospects.

Under the securities laws brokers are obligated to act in their clients’ best interests and provide only suitable recommendations for investments to the client.  In addition, the SEC has promulgated “Regulation Best Interest” which according to the SEC enhanced the broker-dealer standard of conduct beyond existing suitability obligations and requires broker-dealers to act in the best interest of a retail customer when making a recommendation of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities.  Regulation Best Interest and the fiduciary standard for investment advisers are drawn from key fiduciary principles that include an obligation to act in the retail investor’s best interest and not to place their own interests ahead of the investor’s interest.

Brokers have an obligation to first obtain and evaluate sufficient information about a retail investor to form a reasonable basis to believe the account recommendations are in the retail investor’s best interest.  Recommendations cannot be based on materially inaccurate or incomplete information.   Material information always includes information concerning the investor as well as the cost of the recommendation.  Types of costs that must be considered including account fees, commissions and transaction costs, tax considerations, as well as indirect costs.

In addition to obligation to understand the customer the broker must also investigate the product being sold.  FINRA firms have an obligation to conduct a reasonable investigation of the issuer and the securities they recommend in offerings.  A brokerage firm has a special relationship with a customer from the fact that in recommending the security, the broker represents to the customer that a reasonable investigation has been made.  Accordingly, a brokerage firm may not rely blindly upon the issuer for information concerning a company in lieu of conducting its own reasonable investigation.

Additional investor safeguards include broker disclosure requirements.  Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their BrokerCheck reports that include customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, terminations, and even criminal matters.  FINRA has acknowledged that recent studies provide evidence of the predictability of future regulatory and customer complaint issues for brokers with a history of such events.  FINRA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) published a study showing the predictability of disciplinary and disclosure events based on past similar events. The OCE study showed that past disclosure events, including regulatory actions, customer arbitrations and litigations of brokers, have significant power to predict future investor harm. The data shows that where a member firm on-boards brokers with a significant history of misconduct there is a high likelihood that the broker will continue to engage in similar behavior.

Badii entered the securities industry in 2011.  From May 2012 until October 2018 Badii was registered with UBS Financial Services, Inc.  From September 2018 until February 2020 Badii was associated with Cantella & Co., Inc.  Since January 2020 Badii has been registered with Independent Financial out of the firm’s Southlake, Texas office location.

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