Header graphic for print
Securities Compliance Sentinel Analysis of cutting-edge securities industry issues

Category Archives: Financial Industry Trends

Subscribe to Financial Industry Trends RSS Feed

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, Uncategorized

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, Uncategorized

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

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

So Who Wants To Inherit A Book Of Business

Posted in Financial Industry Trends, Intra-Industry Arbitrations, Raiding/Moving Firms

Brokers like anyone else enjoy making money the old fashioned way  . . . . by inheriting it.  Although everyone wants to inherit business, a recent Investment News article highlighted the pitfalls associated with agreements to acquire the business of a retiring broker.  Indeed, intra-industry disputes, such as those involving the acquisition of a book… Continue Reading

Do You Need Another Reason To Take Cyber-Security Seriously

Posted in Cyber-Security, Dodd-Frank, Federal and State Criminal Activities, Financial Industry Trends

As we all know, the SEC and FINRA have made cyber-security an exam priority in 2014, but what does it mean when the audit of your regulator shows that it is susceptible to a data breach.  A recent audit of the SEC found that its cyber-security was far from perfect.  I am sure that there… Continue Reading

FINRA In The Clouds

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

FINRA continues to boost its surveillance capabilities by adopting new technologies like the cloud.  Reuters recently interviewed the CIO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Steven Randich, who commented on the agency’s ongoing 30-month roll-out of cloud computing.  According to Randich, by moving to the cloud, FINRA will get “dramatic processing and storage scale at… Continue Reading

I Tweet, You Tweet, We All Tweet

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

The SEC recently issued two interpretations that address your use of interactive social media, like Twitter, in accordance with the securities laws.   These interpretations permit your firm to now use a hyperlink to satisfy the legend requirements and, at the same time, limit your responsibility where your communications are retransmitted, like a retweet.  The major… Continue Reading

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

FINRA “Sweeping” Firms for Cyber-Security

Posted in Cyber-Security, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance

We keep saying it, and we will keep saying it, cyber-security issues will not go away. Now, FINRA has notified its member firms that it will begin assessment examinations regarding controls, procedures, approaches and management of cyber-security threats.  See http://www.finra.org/Industry/Regulation/Guidance/TargetedExaminationLetters/P443219.  In particular, FINRA examiners will review business continuity plans, service provider arrangements, other third party vendor agreements, reporting lines,… 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’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

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

What Do Ethics Have To Do With It?

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

Having a strong compliance program is not the end of a firm’s obligation to itself and its customers. All firms should also make sure that it has a strong ethics program. An ethics program should include, among other things, the following: A written code of conduct; Having an ethical tone at the top of the… Continue Reading

So You Don’t Think You Need A Business Continuity Plan; Here Are 15 Considerations Why You Should Have One

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

Now that summer is in its waning days, the hurricaine season is about to take off.  Hurricaine Sandy had a devastating impact on the financial markets, closing the equity markets for two days and some firms for at least a week.  The SEC, CFTC and FINRA recently provided financial firms a framework to improve their… Continue Reading

Do You Want To Know What Keeps The Regulator Up At Night

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

At a regulator’s round table during a recent National Society of Compliance Professionals meeting, the regulators framed out those issues that are keeping them up at night.  The issues include: The increasing complexity of investment products. Social media beyond things like Twitter or LinkedIn. Cyber security. Cyber fraud; i.e. hacking into customer accounts. AML issues… Continue Reading

Who Wants To Know What FINRA Has Planned For Your CRD

Posted in Arbitration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Registered Representatives

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently announced that it expects to send a proposal to the SEC to make it easier for registered representatives to clear their record of black marks.  Up until now, the process for expungement has been drawn out and extremely limited in application. The primary issue FINRA is attempting to… Continue Reading

What Broker-Dealers Need To Know About FINRA

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

Recently, FINRA publicized penalties against three companies and associated individuals for failing to implement adequate anti-money laundering procedures.  These fines should serve as a warning to the industry as a whole that FINRA is very focused on AML policies and procedures. In its announcement, FINRA noted that the firms failed to implement adequate procedures to… Continue Reading

What Investment Advisers Need To Know About The SEC

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance

The SEC recently announced that its top priority is to increase the number of investment adviser examinations it conducts on an annual basis.  Considering that the SEC only examined 8% of all investment advisers in 2012 (where 40% have never been examined), the SEC could only increase the number of such examinations. The talk, for… Continue Reading

So is it now really the beginning of the end of arbitration

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

The North American Securities Administrators Association on behalf of state securities regulators, following 37 members of Congress, recently asked the SEC to exercise its authority under Dodd-Frank and do away with mandatory arbitration agreements.  Consumer groups have also jumped into this fray. Does this signal the beginning of the end of arbitration clauses in customer… Continue Reading

So What Do You Need To Do With BrokerCheck

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Dodd-Frank, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Social Media

While many brokers breathed a sigh of relief when FINRA withdrew its proposal requiring members to include a “prominent description of and link to” BrokerCheck on their web sites and social media pages, this is probably not the end of this matter. Many firms complained about the proposal because it presented many administrative nightmares; such… Continue Reading

Did You Know That Some Of Your Products Require Heightened Supervision

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

In a recent speech, FINRA CEO, Richard Ketchum, told broker-dealer compliance officers that, although firm compliance programs have improved, there must be heightened supervision when it comes to complex products.  In light of these comments, you must assume that the supervision over the sale of complex products will be a focus of your next examination…. Continue Reading

Some Things You Should Know About Compliance And Ethics

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

At a recent conference held by the SEC, a panel highlighted the importance of compliance and ethics for broker-dealers.  The big take away from the conference was that a strong compliance program must have a solid ethical foundation. In other words, a compliance program is not simply making sure that your representatives check the right… Continue Reading