Cryptocurrency and The Securities Industry

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?

Read More…

Cybersecurity Programs Remain a Priority in 2018

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.?

Read More…

How to Register as an RIA: State Registration vs. SEC Registration

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.

Read More…

Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part II

[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.

Read More…

Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part I

Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, enacted in 2012, provides guidance and regulation relating to securities offered or sold through crowdfunding activities. In 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) added onto this initial act by creating a new ruleset that implemented a regulatory framework for intermediaries that facilitate such crowdfunding transactions. This includes regulations for a relatively new intermediary: the funding portal. Securities Act Section 4(a)(6) (otherwise known as “Regulation CF”) requires that intermediaries in crowdfunding transactions be registered with the SEC as either a broker-dealer or a funding portal.

Read More…

How to Register as an RIA: What is a Registered Investment Advisor?

A Registered Investment Advisor, or “RIA” as it is commonly abbreviated, is a person or company engaged in the investment advisory business. That means that they engage in the regular business of providing, for compensation, either directly or through publication, advice on the value of securities or on the advisability of investing in, buying, or selling securities; or, they engage in the regular business of providing, for compensation, either directly or through publication, analyses or reports covering securities.

Read More…

What is Custody?

Custody remains a focus area for SEC and state regulators alike.  Firms should review the guidance released by the SEC to learn what steps can be taken to avoid having inadvertent custody requiring an independent surprise examination.

Guidance Issued by the SEC: Inadvertent Contractual Custody

In guidance notice No. 2017-01, “Inadvertent Custody: Advisory Contract Versus Custodial Contract Authority,” the SEC lists examples of problematic statements listed in agreements between clients and qualified custodians.  The staff has determined an investment adviser may inadvertently have custody of client funds or securities because of provisions in a separate custodial Read More…

The SEC’s Priorities in 2018

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division released their annual report detailing its priorities for 2018.  The department will be guided by 5 principles: Focus on the Main Street Investor, Focus on Individual Accountability, Keep Pace with Technological Change, Impose Sanctions that Most Effectively Further Enforcement Goals, and Constantly Assess the Allocation of Resources. Read More…

Large Trader – Rule 13h-1 (Part 2)

For Part 1, please see  Large Trader-Rule 13h-1 (Part 1).  Part 2 A large trader is required to file a Form 13H Initial Filing promptly after effecting aggregate transactions equal to or greater than the Identifying Activity Level threshold.  After initial filing, Rule 13h-1(b)(1)(ii) specifies that an annual filing must be made within 45 days after[…]