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Category Archives: FINRA Enforcement

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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

Look Before You Tweet

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Registered Representatives, Social Media

FINRA recently sanction a registered representative for tweets made some time ago.  The offending tweets referenced a stock that he did not disclose that he owned and were otherwise biased and not backed up by facts.  The registered representative was fined $15,000 and given a ten day suspension.  In the larger scheme of things, a… 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, Uncategorized, 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

What Do FINRA’s Enforcement Statistics Mean

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

At the halfway point of the year, the Sutherland Asbill firm has issued its report on FINRA’s fines to date.  That report reflects that, although fines are on a record pace this year, the number of actions by FINRA is behind pace.  So what does this mean?  The first step is to look at the… Continue Reading

Cybersecurity Threats Abound and FINRA Asks Questions

Posted in Cyber-Security, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

FINRA has sent targeted sweep letters to almost 20 broker-dealers conerning their approaches to managing cybersecurity risks.  http://www.finra.org/Industry/Regulation/Guidance/TargetedExaminationLetters/P443219; and http://www.sec.gov/News/Testimony/Detail/Testimony/1370540757488#.UvVcWJUo61s. Among other questions, the survey asks the firms about their approaches to information technology; risk assessment; business continuity plans in case of cyber-attack; organization structures and reporting lines; and processes for sharing and obtaining information… Continue Reading

Should You Feel Better That FINRA Vetted Its Arbitrators

Posted in Arbitration, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Intra-Industry Arbitrations, Public Customer Arbitrations, Raiding/Moving Firms

As a result of a couple high profile awards that were overturned because of issues with the arbitrators, FINRA has vetted its pool of arbitrators and has instituted new procedures to review arbitrators. Should you feel any better that this has happened? Having defended broker-dealers and registered representatives over 16 years, I have, at times,… Continue Reading

What Are You Doing About Cyber-Security

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Cyber-Security, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

It was apparently not enough that the SEC and FINRA made cyber-security an exam priority for 2014, but the Department of the Treasury has now focused on this pervasive issue.  In recent comments, Treasury Secretary Lew has urged financial firms to step it up when protecting against cyber-attacks.  Stories of cyber-attacks are becoming so common… 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

FINRA’S NEW TEAM TO PROSECUTE RECIDIVIST BROKERS

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

FINRA announced several new regulatory and examination priorities, including the creation of a dedicated enforcement team to prosecute “recidivist brokers.” Recidivist brokers have been the subject of “a pattern of complaints or disclosures” involving sales practice abuses.  FINRA will examine firms that hire these brokers and expect to review the firm’s due diligence conducted in… Continue Reading

Is “Big Brother” Such A Bad Thing

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Corporate Governance, FINRA Compliance, FINRA CRD, FINRA Enforcement, Ponzi Schemes, Registered Representatives

FINRA recently announced a change to the supervision rule to require hiring firms to conduct background checks on new employees.  This rule change raises the question; what have member firms been doing all along.  In this day and age of instant information, having a new registered representative complete his/her U-4 should have only been a… 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

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

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

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’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

So Who Is My Lawyer Anyway?

Posted in CFTC Enforcement, FINRA Enforcement, Internal Investigations, Law Firms and Lawyers

A firm faced with a regulatory investigation should hire outside counsel to bring objective analysis to the situation. Although it may seem simple, the question that must first be addressed is who the lawyer represents. If the firm itself is the subject of the inquiry, then the firm needs representation. However, that same lawyer should… 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