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Category Archives: Broker-Dealer Regulation

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So What Does The SEC Think About Cybersecurity

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Cyber-Security, FINRA Compliance, Investment Adviser Regulation, Investment Company Regulation, SEC Compliance

At the end of last month, the SEC provided a guidance update on cybersecurity for registered investment companies and registered investment advisors. This guidance is equally instructive for broker-dealers and registered representatives. Cyber threats are numerous and ever changing with technology. The SEC provided the guidance to highlight the importance of having a robust cybersecurity… Continue Reading

What The Heck Is A Senior Designation

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

That is one of the questions FINRA sought to answer in its recent National Seminar Investor Initiative. FINRA confirmed that many representatives use such designations, but some of them are bogus or no better than a certificate you find as a prize in a cereal box. The problem is that some representatives use these bogus… Continue Reading

Why Reverse Churning Does Not Create Cream From Butter.

Posted in Arbitration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Public Customer Arbitrations, Registered Representatives

For years, firms have been using wrap products to charge an annual fee based upon the value of assets under management regardless of the number of trades, as opposed to fees per trade. In other words, wrap accounts were an effective tool to avoid churning claims because the customer theoretically could trade daily and only… Continue Reading

Is This A Preview of FINRA’s Approach to Rule 3110(e)

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA CRD, FINRA Enforcement, Raiding/Moving Firms, Registered Representatives

In a recent Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”) a broker dealer was censured and fined for, among other things, the failure to conduct an adequate pre-hire investigation of a registered representative. The importance of this AWC is that it may signal FINRA’s mindset for what firms must do under Rule 3110(e). Under Rule 3110(e), FINRA… Continue Reading

Do Not Fall Behind On Cybersecurity

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

Cybersecurity is more than just a trending topic.  As hacks and leaks continue to be publicized, the Securities and Exchange Commission is stepping up its game and increasing its focus on cybersecurity compliance. The SEC’s Office of Compliance and Inspections recently released an initial summary of their findings from their 2014 OCIE Cybersecurity Initiative.  The… Continue Reading

What FINRA Is Doing About Private Placements

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Private Placements

FINRA recently censured and fined a broker-dealer $175,000.00 for failing to perform appropriate due diligence and supervision regarding private placements that the firm and its registered representatives offered. This penalty should serve as a wake-up call that FINRA is taking a sharp look at the due diligence that firms perform before and after offering a… Continue Reading

FINRA in 2015 – High-Risk and Recidivist Brokers

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Registered Representatives

FINRA is planning on turning up the heat on perceived “high-risk” brokers this year, and the firms that hire them.  Continuing our discussion regarding FINRA’s 2015 Regulatory and Examinations Priorities Letter, this blog entry will discuss FINRA’s planned activities to prevent and/or stop registered representatives from engaging in actual misconduct. In an effort to protect the… Continue Reading

FINRA in 2015 – Wealth Events

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

FINRA’s 2015 Regulatory and Examinations Priorities Letter provides guidance regarding areas of focus in the “Sales Practice” for this year.  Previously, we discussed the various sales products that FINRA will be monitoring this year; and yesterday, Josh Horn discussed FINRA’s recently adopted Supervision Rules that affect the Sales Practice.  This blog entry will discuss FINRA’s focus… Continue Reading

What Are You Doing About The New Supervision Rules

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

FINRA noted in its exam priorities that it will be focusing on firms’ compliance with the new supervision rules (FINRA Rules 3110, 3120, 3150 and 3170).  These rules became effective on December 1, 2014. Now that two months have passed since their effective date, firms should have taken the changes into account in their written… Continue Reading

What Is Big Brother Focused On In 2015

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Investment Adviser Regulation, Investment Company Regulation, Registered Representatives, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

It is that time of year again.  The SEC Office of Compliance and Inspection (OCIE) has announced its examination priorities for 2015.  Knowing what these priorities are will help firms gauge their compliance and supervision efforts over the next year. For firms that are in the retail sector, OCIE has identified particular areas of interest. … Continue Reading

Why You Need To Think Twice About That New Hire

Posted in Broker-Dealer Registration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA CRD, FINRA Enforcement

Starting July 1, member firms are required to have written procedures to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information in a registered representative’s U-4 within 30 days of the U-4 being filed with FINRA.  The question that arises is whether the expense of this new type of “investigation” is worth it. In short, member… Continue Reading

Reverse-Flash: SEC and FINRA Looking to Slow High-Speed Traders?

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

High-frequency trading is the latest craze hitting the market.  Popularized by Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys, high-frequency or high-speed trading involves the use of sophisticated technological tools and computer algorithms to rapidly trade securities.  According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, high-frequency trading has been “blamed for making stock exchanges less transparent and markets more volatile [and] has disrupted the process… Continue Reading

So Who Really Thinks They Know Their Customers

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Registered Representatives

As the year winds down to an end, financial advisors should be mindful of next year and the years to come.  Now is as good a time as any to make sure that you know your customer.  The year-end gives you a unique opportunity to get in front of your clients and revisit the year… Continue Reading

So What Can Be Done To Avoid The Quandary Of Clients With Dementia

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Investment Adviser Regulation

As our population ages, more and more financial advisors will have to deal with clients who have dementia or get dementia.  If a client gets dementia, your options may be limited; it may be too late.  The question all firms should consider is are there things a firm can do before its clients show the… Continue Reading

What Does The “E” in Email Mean?

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Cyber-Security, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA CRD, FINRA Enforcement, Securities Litigation

Recent history shows that FINRA is going after brokers who alter client’s records.  This, unfortunately, reminded me of my own bad experience as a young lawyer when defending a broker. That broker had great “contemporaneous” notes of his communications with the client that made the case very defendable.  My opponent questioned the authenticity of these… Continue Reading

Forget Including A Bar Of Whistleblower Tips In Settlement Agreements

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Public Customer Arbitrations, Registered Representatives, Whistleblowers

FINRA recently warned that firms could face disciplinary action if they enter into settlement agreements that bar customers or former employees from reporting wrongdoing at the firm.  Although FINRA recognized that confidentiality provisions were acceptable, it noted that they have to be written in such a way to authorize the individual to contact FINRA or… Continue Reading

Personal Email For Firm Business – Don’t Do That

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Social Media

As firm clients demand more and more access to their registered representatives, member firms must do more to make sure that their brokers do not run afoul of the firm communication written supervisory procedures.  One firm recently failed that test, resulting in a FINRA fine and censure.  In that matter, FINRA found that the member… Continue Reading

The Uniform Fiduciary Duty Standard – It Seems Like Déjà vu All Over Again

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Dodd-Frank, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

Although it has been many years since Yogi Berra uttered this famous line, it seems like he must have been thinking about the debate regarding the adoption of a uniform fiduciary duty standard.  All kidding aside, one SEC commissioner recently expressed his doubts regarding the SEC proposing such a rule for those who give retail… Continue Reading

Cyber-Security – What Do Enforcement Actions Tell You

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Cyber-Security, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance

In a recent NSCP Currents article, Giselle Casella addressed what every compliance office must know about cyber-security.  One of the more compelling lessons was what can be learned from enforcement actions dealing with cyber-security.  Cyber-security enforcement actions fell into the following groupings:  Inadequate security policies and procedures; Failure to enforce policies and procedures; Failure to… Continue Reading

SEC Temporarily Exempts BDs from Certain Rules

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation

The SEC provided firms with a temporary exemption from certain requirements under recently-adopted amendments to its broker-dealer financial responsibility rules. The amendments – established new requirements under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 in the areas of net capital, customer protection and books and records.  The exemptions expired on March 3, 2014, and related to… Continue Reading

SEC Seeks Actions to Stress Support for Compliance

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

The SEC is looking for more cases to bring to emphasize its support for compliance programs, including a case against a former portfolio manager. OCIE has also several specialized working groups in areas such as securities valuation, marketing and sales practices, and fixed income and municipal securities, that are working with Enforcement staff to bring… Continue Reading

Expunge Me, No Expunge You

Posted in Arbitration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Expungement, FINRA CRD

FINRA recently put into place the highly publicized prohibition of making a settlement contingent upon a registered representative having the subject arbitration expunged from the representatives U-4.  Is this a good thing?  The claimants’ bar thinks this is a good thing because it will prevent bad apples from having their records cleaned.  This position seems… Continue Reading