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Category Archives: FINRA Compliance

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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

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

FINRA Issues 2014 Regulatory and Examination Priorities

Posted in FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

Just yesterday, FINRA issued its annual regulatory and examinations priorities letter.   In keeping with its tradition, FINRA’s list keeps getting longer with each passing year, and it does not seem that FINRA has deleted anything from prior years.  Nonetheless, we will be discussing this letter in more detail in later posts but wanted to let everyone know that… 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

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

FINRA and Alt Funds Risks

Posted in FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Hedge and Private Equity Funds

FINRA issued an investor alert regarding the “unique characteristics and risks” presented by “alternative funds.”  See  http://op.bna.com/srlr.nsf/r?Open=rhil-98ktb8. In a release, FINRA explained that “alt” mutual funds are United States Securities and Exchange Commission-registered and publicly offered, and hold “more non-traditional in-vestments and employ more complex trading strategies than traditional mutual funds.”  Alt funds, according to… Continue Reading

FINRA Requests Data on Member Firms’ Social Media Use

Posted in FINRA Compliance, SEC Compliance, Social Media

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority announced that it sent targeted examination letters asking broker-dealer members about their social media use.  See http://www.finra.org/Industry/Regulation/Guidance/TargetedExaminationLetters/P282569. In the letter, FINRA warned that each member firm’s written and electronic communications are subject to periodic spot checks.  Among other questions, FINRA asked the member firms to explain their use of social… Continue Reading

FINRA’s Private Placement Concerns

Posted in FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Private Placements, Uncategorized

FINRA is beginning investigations into private placements.  New FINRA Rule 5123 requires member firms involved in a private stock offerings to provide investors with detailed information on the transaction prior to the sale, and to file that information with FIRNA within 15 days after the first sale. The rule went into effect in December 2012…. 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

Why The Line Between Supervision And Compliance Should Not Be Blurred

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

In enforcement proceedings, it is no secret that FINRA focuses on supervision. The question becomes how to avoid being considered a supervisor when you are not. This question is even more difficult in small firms who do not have the luxury of large and distinct compliance departments. Generally, a person is considered a supervisor if… Continue Reading

How To Manage Hold Recommendations Under Rule 2111

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

One of the greater challenges arising from the implementation of Rule 2111 in July 2012 was how firms would manage hold recommendations because they now have to be suitable. FINRA noted in a recent Regulatory Notice focused on suitability examinations what some firms are doing right when it comes to handling hold recommendations. FINRA recognized… Continue Reading

Who Wants To Know The Red Flags In A FINRA Suitability Examination

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

In Regulatory Notice 13-31, FINRA identified those areas of inquiry it will likely make when conducting a suitability examination.  Once those questions are answered, and FINRA examines the firm’s controls, FINRA will determine whether to expand its examination. An examination is typically expanded when FINRA uncovers a material deviation between the procedures and actual practices. … Continue Reading

So Who Wants To Know Some Secrets About FINRA Suitability Examinations

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

In Regulatory Notice 13-31, FINRA gave guidance regarding its approach and expectations when it conducts a suitability examination.  FINRA’s critical starting off point begins with its analysis of firm controls through interviews with principals responsible for preparing the firm’s policies and procedures. FINRA is providing this guidance as it has only been a little more… Continue Reading

So What Do FINRA’s Disciplinary Statistics Mean For You?

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

As noted in a report by the Sutherland Asbill firm, although over the first six months of 2013 FINRA has brought nearly the same number of disciplinary cases as the same period in 2012, fines are down significantly.  In addition, FINRA’s areas of focus have also changed.  So what does this mean for you? For… Continue Reading

So Do You Really Want To Arbitrate Customer Claims

Posted in Arbitration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Public Customer Arbitrations, Securities Litigation

In the 17 plus years of defending broker-dealers in FINRA arbitrations, I and my clients have relied upon the fact that at least one arbitrator would have industry experience.  In my experience, having that presence did not create an unfair advantage for the firm.  Instead, it provided the panel with a knowledgeable resource that would… Continue Reading

What Does FINRA Rule 3270 Mean To You

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Money Laundering, Ponzi Schemes, Registered Representatives, Social Media

The outside business activities of registered persons have the potential for causing your firm significant liability, especially where those activities are unknown to the firm, involve firm customers and constitute a fraud.  FINRA 3270 only requires the registered person to provide notice to the firm before engaging in the activity, but should the firm do more…. 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