On July 7, 2022, FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers issued its decision in Dep’t of Enforcement v. Burford, Discip. Proc. No. 2019064656601 (OHO July 7, 2022). Here, the Hearing Panel found that Burford caused no customer harm. There was no evidence that Burford gained monetarily from his actions. Burford was “polite, respectful, and cooperative” throughout the investigation and disciplinarily proceeding. Nonetheless, the Hearing Panel refused to deem these factors “mitigating” and whacked Burford with a 6-month suspension – double the suspension sought by Enforcement – and $10,000 fine. At its core, this is a case of registered representative alleged to have improperly taken instructions from a deceased customer’s widow. This case highlights the perils of efforts by a financial adviser to assist an individual when those efforts skirt the policies of a broker-dealer.
Burford was registered with Hilltop Securities Independent Network, Inc. In November 2019, Hilltop discharged Burford and filed a Form U5 alleging a “failure to follow firm policy regarding the death of a client.”