It’s that time of the year again! As the fourth quarter ticks by, we have compiled a helpful end of year to-do list to aid small broker-dealers in addressing and closing out important annual compliance requirements.

Firm CRD Renewals and Registrations

Firms must review their Firm and Representative state registrations at least annually. The Preliminary Renewal Statement fee deadline is December 16, 2019. Final Registration Statements are then due on January 17, 2020. If the Firm plans to withdraw from a state,  Firms may begin submitting post-dated Form BDW and ADV-W filings via Web CRD/IARD on November 1, 2019 to avoid paying the registration fee. Registrations terminated by post-dated filings submitted by 11 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), November 8, 2019, do not appear on the firm’s Preliminary Statement. The only allowed date for post-dated filings is December 31, 2019. The 2020 Renewal Calendar is a valuable resource for identifying renewal tasks and tracking deadlines.

Annual Compliance Meeting and Firm Element Training

All Firms must complete their Firm Element and Annual Compliance Training obligations to fulfill the requirements of FINRA 3110 (a) by year-end. Ensure that your training covers the risks and products of your firm. Review of regulatory trends and priorities should also be considered as an important element of educating registered persons at the Firm. Finally, consider important training foundations including Privacy of Client Information, Communications with the Public, Insider Trading and Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”). For example, AML Training is a required pillar of your AML Compliance Program.

FINRA 3120 Annual Supervisory Control Testing and Report

Has your Firm designated one or more principals to test and verify the Firm’s Supervisory Procedures? To comply with FINRA Rule 3120, the Firm must designate one or more principals to establish, maintain, and enforce a system of supervisory controls including policies and procedures. These written policies and procedures should test and verify the firm’s supervisory procedures and are reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws, regulations, and FINRA rules. This report must be in writing, documenting findings, exceptions, and amendments to the program. The report must be sent to members of senior management annually.

FINRA 3130 CEO Certification

FINRA Rule 3130 requires the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”), or similar function, to certify at least annually that the member has processes in place to establish, review, test, maintain, and modify, if necessary, the written compliance policies and written supervisory procedures. The process must be reasonably designed to comply with applicable rules and regulations. The CEO must also have one or more meetings with the Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”) in the preceding 12 months to discuss the processes. This annual certification must be executed no later than the anniversary date of the previous year’s certification.

Branch Office Inspections

Have you reviewed your branch audit schedule? If not, it’s time to do so. Under FINRA Rule 3110(c ), any Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (“OSJ”) or Branch that supervises one or more non-branch locations is required to have a documented annual inspection.

AML Audit

FINRA Rule 3310 requires broker-dealers to perform an annual inspection of their AML Compliance Program (“AMLCP”). This inspection must be performed by an individual or party that is not involved in the implementation or supervision of the Firm’s AML program (AMLCO) nor does this person report to the individual that is responsible. The review must be performed by a qualified individual who understands the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and FINRA Rule 3310. If your Firm does not have clients or customer accounts during the review period, a review must be performed every two years.

Annual Notifications to Customers

On an annual basis, Firms must provide certain notices to its client base. These notices include, but are not limited to: Privacy, BCP, SIPC, Order Routing, and other Investor Education Documents. The delivery of these notices must be documented and available for inspection during any audit or examination.


If this list seems overwhelming, or your Firm needs assistance on any of the items above, please contact us. Our expert team works with broker-dealers to help build a solid compliance program.

To learn more about additional key concepts in building out the foundations of your Firm’s compliance program, browse our other Broker-Dealer blog posts.