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Category Archives: Broker-Dealer Regulation

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Why Should You Care About Cyber-Security

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

The short answer to this question is that the SEC and FINRA care.  Both regulators have made this issue an exam priority for the year, and it was recently a focus of an SEC roundtable.  We hear of data breaches on nearly a daily basis at retail stores, to name a common target.  But what… Continue Reading

Who Wants To Know Something About FINRA’s New Written Procedures Rule?

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Registered Representatives

New FINRA Rule 3110 (effective December 1, 2014) sets out various written procedures and requirements for member firms.  You should pay particular attention to these rules because they suggest those areas of focus in any upcoming examination.  Among other things, new FINRA Rule 3110.06 provides for the review of correspondence and internal communications.  Importantly, this… Continue Reading

What Do You Need To Know About FINRA’s New Supervision Rules

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, FINRA Compliance, Registered Representatives

Effective December 1, 2014, there will be new rules for broker-dealer supervision.  With these changes, FINRA is placing more burdens on a firm’s supervisory system.    With respect to “supervisory systems”, Rule 3110 covers the following:  Establishing and maintaining written procedures and designating principals responsible for supervision. Designating offices of supervisory jurisdiction. Designating OSJ/non-OSJ branch principals…. Continue Reading

E-Mail Guidance from FINRA …. What took you so long?

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, FINRA Compliance

FINRA amended its supervisory rules to include new Rules 3110 and 3120.   See http://www.finra.org/Industry/Regulation/Notices/2014/P465941.  Those Rules replace FINRA Rules 3010 and 3012 and add some additional requirements.  FINRA provided some additional guidance concerning  electronic communications, including customer correspondence and internal communications.  FINRA will now permit member firms to use a “lexicon-based” screening tool or system for email reviews.  Nonetheless, supervisors are still… Continue Reading

What To Make Out Of FINRA’s Proposed Rule On Bonus Disclosures

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance, SEC Compliance

Bonuses and other forms of compensation are frequently used by one firm to attract talent away from another firm.  FINRA has now proposed a rule that would require brokers who receive in excess of $100,000 to disclose that payment to their customers.  Does this make any sense?  FINRA’s rationale for the rule is that it… Continue Reading

Should You Breath Easy Because FINRA Enforcement Actions And Fines Decreased In 2013

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance

The Sutherland Asbill firm recently released its report regarding FINRA enforcement actions. In all, the report reflects that enforcement actions and fines decreased over the past year.  So what does this all mean? According to the firm, this could be a reflection of the larger financial crisis cases having worked their way through the system…. Continue Reading

When in Rome Do as the Romans or At Least Play by the Rules

Posted in Broker-Dealer Registration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Foreign Broker-Dealers, International Securities Regulation

Usually, we spend a fair amount of time advising our American broker-dealer clients, who do business overseas, that they have to follow the rules of those countries as well.  However, the “shoe” may sometimes be on the other “foot.”  See http://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2014/34-71593.pdf. Recently, a foreign broker-dealer was forced to pay a 9 figure judgment to resolve an action brought… Continue Reading

More Unaswered/Answered Broker-Dealer Registration Questions

Posted in Broker-Dealer Registration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Mergers and Acquisitions

Recently, the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets Staff issued no action relief allowing those persons and entities specializing in mergers and acquistions (“M&A Broker”) to avoid broker-dealer registration.  See http://www.sec.gov/divisions/marketreg/mr-noaction/2014/ma-brokers-013114.pdf. The staff defined a M&A Broker as “a person engaged in the business of effecting securities transactions solely in connection with the transfer of ownership and… Continue Reading

Is This The Beginning Of The End To Expungment Agreements

Posted in Arbitration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Expungement, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA CRD, Registered Representatives

A frequent tool for settlement was to make a stipulated award that included expungement of the registered representative’s U-4 a condition of settlement.  FINRA recently announced that it is “developing rule changes that would prohibit the practice of conditioning settlements on an investor’s agreement not to oppose expungement.” It should come as no shock that… Continue Reading

SEC Announces Exam Priorities

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Hedge and Private Equity Funds, Investment Adviser Regulation, Investment Company Regulation, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

Tis the season for the regulators to announce their examination priorities.  No less than the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations released its 2014 Examination Priorities for its National Examination Program (“NEP”). In particular, the SEC identified several new issues for registered investment advisers, primarily for those RIAs, who are at least three years old and have never… Continue Reading

What To Expect In 2014 From The SEC’s Enforcement Division

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Hedge and Private Equity Funds, Insider Trading, Internal Investigations, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement, SEC Organization, SEC Structure, Whistleblowers

Now that 2014 is here, it is a good idea to understand what the Enforcement Division might focus on this year.  In a recent article that appeared in the BNA, David Marder, a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi identified fifteen things to expect in the coming year.  The fifteen things he noted to… Continue Reading

SEC Exam and Enforcement Converging Into One?

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Insider Trading

There is concern over the increasing collaboration between the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division and Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. The SEC views this collaboration as efficient while others view it in the extreme.  SEC officials have acknowledged the increasingly close working relationship between OCIE and the Enforcement Division. OCIE assists the SEC’s… Continue Reading

Broker Custody and Financial Responsibility Rules Implemented

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Ponzi Schemes, SEC Compliance

A divided Securities and Exchange Commission adopted new rules to strengthen oversight of broker-dealers’ custody of customer assets. The regulations amend the SEC’s broker-dealer reporting rule Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 Rule 17a-5, requiring firms to file new quarterly reports — Form Custody — containing information as to if and how they maintain custody… Continue Reading

SEC’s New Task Force on Financial Reporting Fraud

Posted in Accounting Standards, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Financial Industry Trends

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced three new enforcement initiatives, including a task force aimed at rooting out potential fraud involving issuer disclosures and audit failures.  See http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2013/2013-121.htm. The SEC said its Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force will expand the Enforcement Division’s efforts to identify securities law violations relating to the preparation of financial… Continue Reading

It Is The End Of The Year — Do You Know Your Customer

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance

Now that the year is drawing to an end and we reflect back on our successes and, dare I say, failures over the last year, financial advisors and brokers should take the time now to review their respective client portfolios. This review should be your standard practice as you plan for next year. The premise… Continue Reading

Fixed-Income Commissions allowed for Brokerage and Research Services

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Registered Representatives

The Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Trading and Markets granted relief for institutional asset managers participating in a brokerage firm’s client commission arrangements.  See Carolina Capital Mkts. Inc., SEC No Action Letter, avail. 7/30/13; http://www.sec.gov/divisions/marketreg/mr-noaction/2013/carolinacapital-073113-15a.pdf. Specifically, the Staff said it would not object if instructional asset managers receive eligible third-party brokerage and research services… Continue Reading

THE SEC DEFEATS INFLATION SORT OF… PENALTIES ADJUSTED

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Investment Adviser Regulation, Investment Company Regulation, Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC Enforcement

The SEC adopted a rule to adjust the maximum amounts it may recover for civil monetary penalties imposed under the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 for inflation.  The SEC’s new rule-was effective upon publication, and also adjusts… Continue Reading

SEC EXAMS MAY NOT BE AS BAD FOR REGISTERED ENTITIES

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance

Despite registrants’ concerns about the increasingly close cooperation between the SEC’s examination and enforcement arms, only about 10 % of SEC exams over the last two years were referred for enforcement. In deciding to refer a case to the Enforcement Division, OCIE considers questions such as: Is there an ongoing fraud? Is there egregious harm… Continue Reading

Insurance Agencies Need Not Register as BDs

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Insurance Agencies

The SEC Staff would not recommend enforcement action if insurance agencies enter into insurance networking arrangements with registered broker-dealers for the offer and sale of variable products and make transaction-based payments based on the sale of these products without registering as broker-dealers. Historically, state insurance laws prohibited brokers from receiving insurance commissions without being licensed… Continue Reading

Offshore M&A Transaction Agent Need Not Register as BD

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, International Securities Regulation, Mergers and Acquisitions

A German company sought the Staff’s assurance that it does not have to register as a broker-dealer if it is retained outside the U.S. by non-U.S. clients in connection with certain M&A transactions, initiates contact directly with potential U.S. targets, and engages in additional activities regarding the U.S. targets. The M&A transactions may involve the… Continue Reading

What Does A Fiduciary Duty Have to Do with It?

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance, SEC Compliance

As the SEC dawdles and contemplates whether there should be a uniform fiduciary duty, Robert Ketchum, chairman and chief executive of FINRA, has recently laid down the gauntlet when he called for a cultural shift to where broker-dealers act in the best interests of their clients. Acting in the best interests of your clients is… Continue Reading

THE FIDUCIARY STANDARD AND THE SEC-DOL TUG -OF -WAR

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Dodd-Frank, Financial Industry Trends

The DOL is working to redefine the definition of the term “fiduciary” for retirement plan purposes, including individual retirement accounts.  The SEC’s recent request for data on a possible rulemaking effort to impose a fiduciary standard seems to fail to take into account the DOL’s ongoing reform efforts. The DOL project is broader while the… Continue Reading

PRACTICES BY PRIVATE FUND ADVISERS RAISE B-D REGISTRATION ISSUES

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Hedge and Private Equity Funds

In its scrutiny of newly registered private fund advisers, the SEC Staff has observed two practices that might implicate broker-dealer registration requirements. The first practice involves fund advisers that pay their personnel transaction-based compensation for selling interests in their funds or that have personnel whose primary purpose is selling interests in the funds. The second… Continue Reading