RIA Branch Audit Planning

RIA Branch Audit Planning

Investment advisers should consider the need to perform a branch office inspection of branch offices pursuant to a branch office inspection schedule. Firms should consider whether a branch audit is warranted using factors such as nature and complexity of the branch’s business, volume of business, complaints, disclosures, number of registered persons, and other relevant factors determined by the firm. Firms are to document the exam schedules for each branch office including a description of the factors used to determine the exam cycle for such locations.

Various states require investment advisers to conduct regular inspections of their branch offices. For example, an investment adviser registered in Georgia is required to inspect each office location at least annually to ensure that its written policies and procedures are enforced. Even when an investment adviser is not explicitly required to conduct branch inspections, it should still implement a branch inspection program as part of its supervisory procedures. Also, investment advisers lacking an adequate branch office inspection program expose themselves to significant liability for failure to supervise in the event misconduct at the branch goes undetected.

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Compliance Budget

Mid-Year Compliance Budget Planning

Reviewing your current mid-year compliance budget plan and adjusting for the rest of the year is important. With COVID-19 taking up a substantial portion of the first half of the year, your vision and budget for 2020 may have drastically changed.

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Examinations and Risk Monitoring

Examination and Risk Monitoring: What to Expect in 2020

FINRA recently released a podcast called “What to Expect: The 2020 Exam and Risk Monitoring Program“. It provides a wealth of information from three members of the Member Supervision Senior Leadership on what to expect from the Examination and Risk Monitoring program in 2020. Here are a few highlights from the podcast. Read More…

Digital Communication

Digital Communications: 2019 FINRA Report

In the recent “2019 Report on FINRA Examination Findings and Observations,” one of the topics highlighted was the use of digital communications. This can include a wide range of social media, email, text messaging, and various other digital tools. The regulatory requirements pertaining to the usage of digital communications are outlined in Exchange Act Rule 17a-3 and 17a-4 and FINRA Rules 3110(b)(4) and 4510. These rules require procedures pertaining to the usage of these types of communications, as well as the appropriate maintenance of the communications in the form of books and records.

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Fees and Expenses

Fees and Expenses: 2019 SEC Examination Priorities

At the end of each calendar year, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) staff of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) publish a list of topics for the next year’s examination priorities. Not so surprisingly, the first item for the 2019 exam priorities listed is “fees and expenses”. This topic was also the highlight of an OCIE Risk Alert in April 2018 as one of the most frequent compliance issues identified in Examinations of Investment Advisers.

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