An important component of financial compliance for broker-dealers is establishing message archiving for all communications relating to its business. Not only is it required by FINRA, but it can protect your Firm if there is an employee conducting unethical or illegal business activities. In a communication from Smarsh, a participant in FINRA’s Preferred Pricing Program, they state that “Broker-dealers can avoid being penalized by regulators for wrong doing among individual professionals if they can clearly demonstrate that they are proactively and sufficiently capturing and monitoring all electronic communications.”
FINRA Rule 2232 requires firms to provide retail customers with mark-up disclosure (and other related disclosures) for trades in corporate and agency debt securities that firms offset on the same day with other principal trades in the same security. Disclosed mark-ups must be calculated from a security’s Prevailing Market Price (PMP), consistent with FINRA Rule 2121 and applicable FAQ guidance. On April 24, 2020 FINRA released a very valuable FAQ on Fixed Income Mark-up Disclosure with important updates related to disclosure requirements for broker dealers. Broker dealers and their employees are braving a whole new world with various work from home and virtual meeting and operations challenges. FINRA makes updates to the FAQ’s so it is important to check back often for the most up to date information.
Early in the year, FINRA released their 2021 Report on FINRA’s Examination and Risk Monitoring Program, which is designed to inform member firms’ compliance programs by providing annual insights from FINRA’s ongoing regulatory operations.
In this report detailing FINRA’s top priorities for 2021, FINRA addresses 18 regulatory areas which are grouped into 4 categories: (1) Firm Operations, (2) Communications and Sales, (3) Market Integrity, and (4) Financial Management. From these 18 regulatory areas, FINRA highlights 6 that they feel are the most important and affect a large portion of member firms, which are as follows:
On October 28, 2020, FINRA filed a proposed rule change to amend Rules 5122 (Private Placements of Securities Issued by Members) and 5123 (Private Placements of Securities) that would require members to file retail communications concerning Private Placement offerings. Previously, Rules 5122 and 5123 required all offering documents to be filed with FINRA. However, they weren’t specific enough to include all documents that should have been considered offering documents, such as retail communications.
As firms continue executing work from home policies, they should consider crucial factors related to potential challenges and changes needed to their communications surveillance program. As more employees are working on personal devices, spending more time on social media, and conducting business in this new reality, regulations on building a compliant communications program are even more important now.