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Category Archives: FINRA Compliance

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FINRA Board Shake-up Coming?

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

Later this month, on July 30th, FINRA will hold its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., during which it will conduct an election for three open seats on its Board of Governors.  On FINRA’s 24-member Board of Governors, there are 10 seats that are reserved for industry representatives from small, medium and large firms.  Of those… Continue Reading

Do you really need a reason why not to provide your client with a personal email address

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Investment Adviser Regulation, Law Firms and Lawyers, Public Customer Arbitrations

Not too long ago, I tried a case that had, among other issues, the improper use of the advisor’s personal email account. That improper use serves as a valuable lesson of what can go wrong when you deviate from using the firm approved email. The client emailed complaints about the handling of the account to… Continue Reading

So who really thinks the SEC is not focused on elder investors

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

If there is any question that the SEC is focused on elder investor issues, look no further than its recent program announcement. The SEC initiated a program designed to examine retirement planning guidance. Under this program, the SEC intends to explore whether the compensation advisers receive presents a conflict of interests and, if so, how… Continue Reading

You just suffered a cyberattack, now what

Posted in Cyber-Security, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, Registered Representatives, Securities Fraud, Social Media

A recent Investment News article highlighted the pervasive problem associated with cyberattacks and offered some guidance in the event of an attack. Before visiting that guidance, understand how pervasive these attacks are. The SEC recently conducted a sweep on cyberattacks. This sweep revealed that 88% of broker-dealers and 74% of advisors have experienced some form… Continue Reading

Who Wants Additional Guidance On Dealing With Customers With Diminished Capacity

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

On June 2, the SEC published an investor Bulletin on Planning for Diminished Capacity and Illness (the “Bulletin”). Previously, the SEC and FINRA issued a National Senior Investor Initiative. Clearly, FINRA and the SEC think that senior issues, such as diminished capacity, require a heightened focus by firms and individual advisors when it comes to… Continue Reading

Does FINRA Really Want To Make It Easier To Communicate With The Public

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

In FINRA Notice to Members 15-16, FINRA has solicited comments to its proposal that would make communications with the public a bit easier. FINRA proposes to change Rule 2210 (communication with the public), 2214 (requirements for the use of investment analysis tools), and 2213 (requirements for the use of bond mutual fund volatility ratings). All… Continue Reading

Who You Gonna Call? FINRA!

Posted in Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

Last month, FINRA launched a toll-free FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors at 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577) to provide older investors with assistance from FINRA staff related to concerns they have with their brokerage accounts and investments, such as: understanding how to review your investment portfolio or account statements; concerns about the handling of a brokerage account; and investor… Continue Reading

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

So Who Wants To Give A Vendor Access To Your IT Systems

Posted in Books and Records, Cyber-Security, Federal and State Criminal Activities, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

At one time or another, member firms will likely need the services of an outside vendor. This may be particularly true for smaller member firms. Outside vendors have their place, but FINRA’s Report on Cybersecurity Practices details that level of vigilance needed when it comes contracting with vendors who have access to your IT systems.… 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

How to avoid being sued 2.0

Posted in Arbitration, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA CRD, Public Customer Arbitrations, Registered Representatives, Securities Litigation

Over the years that I have defended financial advisors and their firms, I have frequently spoken and written about ways to avoid the risk of being sued. I prepared a guidebook a couple of years ago that detailed some common sense approaches to risk avoidance. I have updated that guidebook to take into account new… Continue Reading

Cybersecurity: FINRA’s Take

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, Cyber-Security, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, SEC Compliance

We recently highlighted the Security and Exchange Commission’s 2014 OCIE Cybersecurity Initiative.  Not to be outdone, FINRA also released its Report on Cybersecurity Practices, which provided a much more in-depth report on cybersecurity.  Therein, FINRA offered its own insights into what it expects from firms’ cybersecurity risk management practices: FINRA recommends that firms have a… Continue Reading

New Look For FINRA.org

Posted in Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

Earlier this week, FINRA launched its redesigned website FINRA.org.  The website boasts a cleaner and more intuitive design, making information easier to find and read for users.  Streamlined navigation also allows users to more quickly access tools and resources on this site, such as BrokerCheck, investor education, and information about registration and qualification exams.  In… Continue Reading

Do Not Fall Behind On Cybersecurity

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Cyber-Security, 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

So How Is Your Cybersecurity

Posted in Books and Records, Cyber-Security, Federal and State Criminal Activities, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement, Social Media

The SEC and FINRA have continued to designate cybersecurity as an exam priority.  Both the SEC and FINRA have also recently published the findings of their exam sweeps.  As reported by the Investment News, the results of those sweeps when it comes to cybersecurity are telling. The sweeps show that firms, much like with compliance,… Continue Reading

Are You Charging Your Customers Too Much

Posted in Books and Records, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

If you are not asking that question, FINRA may as its recent $350,000 fine levied against a major brokerage house indicates.  In that instance, FINRA found that the brokerage charged 20,000 customers a total of $2.4 million too much for certain transaction fees. For its part, the SEC is going after private equity firms because… Continue Reading

FINRA in 2015 – Sales Products

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

Earlier this month, FINRA released its 2015 Regulatory and Examinations Priorities Letter.  In the letter, FINRA lays out its 2015 priorities, which focus on three general areas: 1) Sales Practice; 2) Financial and Operational Priorities; and 3) Market Integrity.  This blog entry will discuss FINRA’s “Sales Practice” priority. FINRA is focused on various sales products… Continue Reading