We pride ourselves not only on our expert advice, but also on the variety of product offerings that give our clients the ability to build a solid compliance program. Our primary objective is to simplify the job of compliance and supervision.
Today, many facets of our operations allow us to provide best-in-class service to our clients and make us a leader in compliance management.
What is “compliance management"? “Compliance management” is a term that we use to describe the system used by a firm to ensure that it operates a robust and effective compliance program. “Compliance management” has several key components, including, among other things, organization, efficient allocation of resources, delegation of responsibilities, effective management and leadership, appropriate training, policies and procedures tailored to the firm’s business, and documented compliance reviews.
We offer a wide range of compliance management solutions to help your firm establish, implement, and maintain an effective system for achieving compliance with the securities laws, rules, and regulations governing its business.
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The complex and ever-growing set of regulations and laws governing the securities industry creates many challenges for the financial institutions that must comply with them. Compliance is not just what you know, but more importantly, what you don't know. The enforcement stakes are high and an audit score of 99% could result in a failure.
For those of you who are experts, compliance is something that you have to teach and delegate to others. Compliance takes a great deal of organization and discipline. Compliance doesn't just happen in a day; rather, it is ongoing process that must occur throughout the year.
Too often, we come across prospects that desperately need to fix a failing compliance program. In many cases, the gaps in these compliance programs are not detected until it is too late. Perhaps, the firm put too much trust in one employee. Consider the consequences of losing a key person, such as your firm’s Chief Compliance Officer. How would your firm replace this position with only two weeks’ notice? There is just too much ground to cover.
MasterCompliance is your firm’s solution and the all-in-one compliance management company.
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[Continued from What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)? – Part I]
Online Platforms that Facilitate Trading in ICO Tokens are Not Registered Exchanges
There are no ICO platforms currently registered as exchanges. Further, the SEC has stated that it neither regulates these platforms as exchanges nor reviews the digital assets that may be listed or traded on these platforms. Many fraudulent platforms refer to themselves as exchanges to provide a sense of legitimacy and make investors assume they are regulated entities or meet the regulatory requirements and standards of a national securities exchange.
Digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, as well as other crypto coins and tokens, may be offered to investors in the form of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). But what is an ICO? And why are they such a regulatory hot topic in the securities industry currently?
As I’m sure you already know from reading our previous blogs on the subject, FINRA Rule 3110(e) (Responsibility of Member to Investigate Applicants for Registration) requires that member firms must “ascertain by investigation the good character, business reputation, qualifications, and experience of an applicant” prior to submitting a Form U4 and requesting to associate and register such an applicant with the firm. However, as recently announced, FINRA has made enhancements to its disclosure review process that will make this verification easier than ever. Such enhancements will allow member firms to rely upon FINRA’s verification process for purposes of compliance with the requirement to conduct a search of public records relating to bankruptcies, judgments and liens.
[Continued from ERA: Exempt Reporting Adviser Qualification – Part I]
SEC ERA Registration vs. State ERA Registration
Firms with more than $100 million in regulatory AUM (Large Advisers) must register with the SEC unless an exemption is available. Advisers with between $100 million and $150 million AUM solely attributable to private funds are exempt under the private fund adviser exemption, as described above. Advisers with over $150 million AUM must register with the SEC.
Per the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”), firms who meet the definition of providing investment advisory services generally must register either with the SEC or with state securities regulators. When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) was signed into law, the Advisers Act was amended to implement a new category for a narrow class of advisory firms: the Exempt Reporting Adviser (ERA).
Cryptocurrency (also spelled crypto currency) is everyone’s new favorite hot topic. Even if you’ve done no research into the topic, you’ve probably heard of the most (in)famous cryptocurrency: Bitcoin. But what are cryptocurrencies? And how are they affecting the securities industry?
Since our last post about Form U10, FINRA has implemented the Test Enrollment Services System (TESS). Beginning in June 2017, FINRA began transitioning all non-U4 examination enrollments to TESS and ended the utilization of the Form U10.
Cybersecurity programs remain a significant priority for financial services industry regulators, including the SEC, FINRA, and state securities regulatory agencies. As mentioned in FINRA’s 2018 Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter, member firms need to have cybersecurity programs in place and such programs must capable of protecting sensitive information, including personally identifiable information of clients, from both internal and external threats. Over the past couple of years, awareness of cybersecurity risk has increased dramatically. However, as awareness increases, so does the sophistication of cybersecurity threats. And even a robust cybersecurity program can be compromised by something as simple as an employee opening an email attachment that contains malware. So, what can a firm do to combat phishing and spearphishing attacks, ransomware attacks, fraudulent third-party wires, etc.?
In our previous blog on Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), “How to Register as an RIA: What is a Registered Investment Advisor?”, we discussed some important basics of RIAs – how does one define an RIA, what is Fiduciary Duty, why do RIAs need to register, what is the difference between state registration and SEC registration, etc. Today, we will return to the topic of state registration vs. SEC registration in order to provide a more thorough examination of the issue.
[Continued from Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part I]
Funding Portal Registration Process
Firms seeking to register as funding portals must do so via completion of an application process with FINRA. The registration process for a funding portal is similar to, but much less comprehensive and exhaustive, the New Member Registration process completed by applicants wishing to become broker-dealers.