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Category Archives: SEC Compliance

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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

GOOD COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS EXALTED

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

Companies subject to enforcement actions will get more credit from regulators if the alleged misconduct is an exception in a compliance-driven corporate culture rather than a remedial step after discovery. In cases where the SEC finds fraud, there often are early warning signs, and inadequate corporate compliance may not have seen them.  The SEC believes… Continue Reading

Should You Even Care About A Uniform Fiduciary Duty

Posted in Arbitration, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Dodd-Frank, FINRA Compliance, SEC Compliance, Uncategorized

In an Investment News article written by Mark Schoeff, he reported that the push for a uniform fiduciary standard for broker-dealers and investment advisors has become a bit stagnant. In fact, it was reported that the prospects for such a uniform rules have waned over the years notwithstanding the general consensus that there should be such a… Continue Reading

SEC COMMISSIONERS DEBATE ENFORCEMENT

Posted in SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement, SEC Organization, SEC Structure

Two Securities and Exchange Commissioners – the agency’s two newest members – offered contrasting views of the commission’s use of its enforcement powers.  http://www.sec.gov/News/Speech/Detail/Speech/13705404038989#.Uo_nqCda-JQ(Stein);  http://www.sec.gov/News/Speech/Detail/Speech/1370540400457#.Uo_nvidA-JQ(Piwowar). Among other issues, one said the agency has delegated too much authority to its enforcement staff, while the other hailed the “incredible work” done by the SEC staff on a… Continue Reading

EFFECTIVE COMPLIANCE PROGRAM COULD HAVE ENFORCEMENT PAYOFF

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

An effective corporate compliance program may temper a Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement action, or – if there is an enforcement action – limit the penalties imposed.  See http://www.sec.gov/News/Speech/Detail/Speech/1370539872783#.UlbOPVOHiJR. Agency enforcers make judgments every day regarding the entities and individuals under investigation, and companies that demonstrate an effective compliance program and a genuine commitment to… 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

Do You Really Want To Be A Dual Registrant

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Conflicts of Interest, FINRA Compliance, Registered Representatives, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

One of the priorities of the SEC National Examination Program is dual registrants; entities that provide both brokerage and investment advisory services.  The focus of the program on dual registrants begs the question why a firm would want to be one.  The answer to that question should be an obvious.  Being a dual registrant allows… Continue Reading

You Knew It Was Coming… SEC Cybersecurity Exams

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

We have repeatedly warned broker-dealers and registered investment advisers that they needed to be prepared as it related to cybersecurity.  Now, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations has announced that it will conduct cybersecurity examinations of these entities.  See http://www.sec.gov/ocie/announcement/Cybersecurity+Risk+Alert++%2526+Appendix+-+4.15.14.pdf.  These examinations will be conducted as part of a ”sweep exam,” and will assess… Continue Reading

Data breaches and third-party vendors; what do you need to know.

Posted in FINRA Compliance, SEC Compliance, Securities Fraud, Securities Litigation, Uncategorized

I recently blogged about the pervasive nature of data breaches and the particular risks presented to this industry.  Many firms may think that they are secure because they used a vendor to build a secure environment, but history tells us that is not the case.  Cyber-attacks do not always come from a direct hit, but… 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

RIAs Permitted to More Freely Advertise on Social Media

Posted in Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance

The SEC’s Division of Investment Management  issued guidance permitting advisers  greater use of social media while maintaining the  prohibition on testimonials.   See http://www.sec.gov/investment/im-guidance-2014-04.pdf. IM indicated that advisers could link public commentary from a third social media party site, and it would not violate the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 so long as the adviser had no ability to… Continue Reading

SEC Discourages Incentivizing Whistleblowers to Keep Complaints In-House

Posted in Compliance and Supervision, Dodd-Frank, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

What’s good for the goose is apparently not so good for the gander, as the SEC warns in-house attorneys against whistleblower contracts.  The SEC has been financially incentivizing whistleblowers to bring securities fraud complaints to the agency’s attention for years, with increasing success.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 empowers… 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

SEC Announces Exam Priorities

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Compliance and Supervision, Hedge and Private Equity Funds, Investment Adviser Regulation, Investment Company Regulation, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

Tis the season for the regulators to announce their examination priorities.  No less than the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations released its 2014 Examination Priorities for its National Examination Program (“NEP”). In particular, the SEC identified several new issues for registered investment advisers, primarily for those RIAs, who are at least three years old and have never… Continue Reading

What To Expect In 2014 From The SEC’s Enforcement Division

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Hedge and Private Equity Funds, Insider Trading, Internal Investigations, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement, SEC Organization, SEC Structure, Whistleblowers

Now that 2014 is here, it is a good idea to understand what the Enforcement Division might focus on this year.  In a recent article that appeared in the BNA, David Marder, a partner with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi identified fifteen things to expect in the coming year.  The fifteen things he noted to… Continue Reading

Broker Custody and Financial Responsibility Rules Implemented

Posted in Books and Records, Broker-Dealer Regulation, Ponzi Schemes, SEC Compliance

A divided Securities and Exchange Commission adopted new rules to strengthen oversight of broker-dealers’ custody of customer assets. The regulations amend the SEC’s broker-dealer reporting rule Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 Rule 17a-5, requiring firms to file new quarterly reports — Form Custody — containing information as to if and how they maintain custody… Continue Reading

SEC EXAMS MAY NOT BE AS BAD FOR REGISTERED ENTITIES

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance

Despite registrants’ concerns about the increasingly close cooperation between the SEC’s examination and enforcement arms, only about 10 % of SEC exams over the last two years were referred for enforcement. In deciding to refer a case to the Enforcement Division, OCIE considers questions such as: Is there an ongoing fraud? Is there egregious harm… 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 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

RIAS NEED TO FOCUS ON FORM ADV AND ADVERTISING REVENUE

Posted in Dodd-Frank, Investment Adviser Regulation, SEC Compliance

The SEC Division of Investment Management, is reviewing the applications of private fund advisers, and focusing on two particular areas: advertising and the Form ADV. The Division’s review will be “informed” by the questions and concerns raised by private fund advisers regarding the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 application to their practices and business models…. Continue Reading

SEC EXAM FOCUS REMAINS CONSISTENT

Posted in Broker-Dealer Regulation, JOBS Act, SEC Compliance, SEC Enforcement

The SEC’S Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations announced its examination priorities to highlight areas of “heightened risk” for registrants.  See http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2013/2013-26.htm.). The OCIE also disclosed areas of emerging risks for registrants, as well as topics to consider the priorities.   Generally, these priorities apply to all registrants as well as specifically to OCIE’s investment adviser… 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

A Secret Concern With Small Firm Supervision And Compliance

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

A recently released compliance testing survey of the Investment Adviser Association and ACA Compliance showed that 90% of all firms claimed to have a full-time person designated to the compliance function, but nearly two thirds of all chief compliance officers have multiple roles within the firm.  Unless I missed that day of new math, these… 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