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Category Archives: FINRA Enforcement

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Are regulations regarding elder investors inevitable

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Investment Adviser Regulation, Registered Representatives, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement, Securities Litigation

With the exception of those of you who have literally been asleep for the last few years, you are well-versed in the attention FINRA and the SEC are giving to issues surrounding elder investors. Among other things, there is a real focus on elder abuse. Some commentators believe that all of this attention may inevitably… Continue Reading

SEC Exam Priorities; It Seems Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Posted in Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Conflicts of Interest, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

Those famous words of the immortal Yogi Berra hold true when it comes to the SEC exam priorities for 2016. Among those at the top of the list are two familiar friends; protecting retail investors and investors saving for retirement. It is clear that the SEC is looking in particular toward how retail firms are… Continue Reading

So, I guess it is all about supervision and risk management after all

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

Other than the non-defined “culture”, FINRA’s 2016 exam priorities are also focused on supervision and risk management. At least these categories are a bit more defined so that you are not left guessing what FINRA means. Under these broad topics, FINRA is focused on four primary areas, which include: Management of conflicts of interest, including… Continue Reading

Culture . . . . We Don’t Need No Stinking Culture

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

Well, guess what? FINRA does not agree with this statement to such a degree that culture is now part of FINRA’s exam priorities for 2016. While the exam priorities acknowledge that “FINRA does not seek to dictate firm culture”, it is an important consideration when assessing a firm’s culture of compliance. After all, such a… Continue Reading

Why Does FINRA Want to Regulate Your Firm’s Culture?

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, Corporate Governance, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

FINRA released its 2016 Exam Priorities yesterday, and its top priority ventures into a very grey area.  FINRA has announced that beginning this year, it will formalize a process of assessing “firm culture”.  In doing so, FINRA appears to be focused primarily on ethics and conflicts of interest and insists that it “does not seek… Continue Reading

Who still thinks FINRA is not interested in elder investor issues

Posted in Broker-Dealer Registration, Compliance and Supervision, Federal and State Criminal Activities, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

As you may know, FINRA, last April, launched a senior helpline to address issues pertaining to senior investors. According to recent reports, FINRA received calls on many different issues such as how to read an account statement up fraud targeted to senior investors. FINRA has reported that some of these calls resulted in follow-up calls… Continue Reading

Why does the SEC care about elder clients

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

     The SEC is conducting an exam sweep that focuses on retirement advice being given to clients of investment advisors and broker-dealers. Some commentators see this as a turf war between the SEC and the Department of Labor (DOL) because the sweep focuses on things that may come under the DOL’s jurisdiction. Whether the exam… Continue Reading

So what does the expedited release of a Form U-5 mean for you

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

As of December 12, 2015, FINRA will release Form U-5s within three business days of a member firm’s submission, instead of the fifteen days currently provided for under Rule 8312. The current version of the rule was meant to provide the departing registered representative ample opportunity to comment on the disclosure either though a Form… Continue Reading

Who wants some additional ideas about cybersecurity

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

A recent Investment News article highlighted issues investments advisors face regarding their cybersecurity programs when it comes to regulatory examinations. First; don’t assume that your insurance policy covers the aftermath of a cyber-event. If you think you have coverage, make sure you document that understanding so that you do not have a shock when it… Continue Reading

Cybersecurity and regulatory enforcement; what are you doing

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

No one likes being a victim, let alone being a victim twice. But that is what you may face if you have a data breach. If your firm had a vulnerability that a hacker exposed, your regulator may come after you regardless if there is any client harm. After all, your system had a gap… Continue Reading

A Recidivist; Here We Go Again

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

One area of focus for FINRA has been on recidivist registered representatives. A recidivist is an associated person who has repeated rule violations or customer complaints of a specific nature. FINRA has used a risk-based approach in order to be proactive to identify the bad behavior that these undesirable registered representatives tend to display. In… Continue Reading

Who wants to hear about pitfalls in the advisor/broker-client relationship

Posted in Arbitration, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Compliance and Supervision, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement, Registered Representatives, SEC Compliance, Securities Litigation

Ernie Badway and I have prepared a series of podcasts that highlights client-issues and risk avoidance techniques for broker-dealers and investment advisors.  We hope you’ll take a listen.  

Why The SEC Does Not Want The Free Lunch

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

It is no secret that some firms try to use the “free lunch” seminars to attract elder clients to high-fee investment products. The SEC recently noted that it will be, through the examination process, targeting firms who frequently sponsor these lunches that target the elderly as new clients. Although the SEC noted that there is… Continue Reading

FINRA Enforcement in the First-Half of 2015

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, FINRA Compliance, FINRA Enforcement

Last month, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan published data revealing FINRA’s first-half fine total for 2015.  The good news: FINRA’s $37.5 million in first-half 2015 fines is down from $42.4 million for the same time period last year.  Projected for the full year, a total of $75 million for 2015 fines imposed by FINRA would be a… Continue Reading

What an amended FINRA Rule 8312 may mean to you.

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

FINRA has released for comment its proposed amendment to Rule 8312, otherwise known as the BrokerCheck Disclosure rule. As it currently stands, FINRA waits for 15 days before it releases information reported on Form U5. This delay was meant to give a registered representative adequate time to comment. FINRA has proposed to change the waiting… Continue Reading

Why therapeutic neglect and an 8210 request do not go hand in hand

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

In first of a series of articles on FINRA enforcement and the disciplinary process, Scott Matasar gave some sage advice on dealing with an 8210 request. The biggest take away is that ignoring the request or providing a half-assed response is not the way to make friends at FINRA. First, ignoring an 8210 request will… Continue Reading

FINRA’s New EB-5 Disclosure Requirements re: Foreign Finders

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

New FINRA Rule 2040 became effective late last month, requiring broker-dealers who sell EB-5 securities disclose to investors the amount of finder fee payments to non-registered foreign persons and receive written acknowledgement from the investors that they are aware of the fees paid. Additionally, FINRA only permits member firms to pay transaction-related compensation to non-registered… Continue Reading

What do you need to know about the latest FINRA sweep exam

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

FINRA recently sent out targeted exam letters focused compensation practices. The intent of this targeted exam is to assess how firms identify, mitigate and manage conflicts of interest when it comes to compensation paid to registered representatives. This limited examination is designed for information gathering purposes and to determine best practices around the sale of… Continue Reading

FINRA Election Results: Shaken, not Stirred

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

The FINRA Board of Governors election results are in.  There were three vacancies among the 10 seats reserved for industry representatives:  one Large, one Mid-Size, and one Small Firm Governor.  John Thiel, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, who ran unopposed, won the Large Firm Governor Seat.  Joe Romano, president of Romano Wealth Management, won… Continue Reading

How can a phone call save your career

Posted in Cyber-Security, Financial Industry Trends, FINRA CRD, FINRA Enforcement

A 17-year veteran advisor recently agreed to a lifetime ban for falsifying the signatures of a client on 10 documents transferring money out of the client’s accounts over a period of two months. Part of this transfer also involved 17 unauthorized trades in the client’s non-discretionary accounts. So how could a phone call have saved… Continue Reading

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

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

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