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.”
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected everyone, forcing many to work from home and causing an increase in the use of virtual environments. With it comes a rise in cyber-attacks, as hackers take advantage of the confusion and peoples lack of preparation to break into company networks, and trick people into revealing sensitive information. This blog post will discuss some of the common areas of deficiencies for firm’s cybersecurity training programs, and a few tips for improving those programs to keep your firm and employees protected.
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.
In mid-December, the SEC adopted an amended rule to the advisor advertising rule and cash solicitation rule to reflect market developments and regulatory changes since the advertising rule’s adoption in 1961 and the cash solicitation rule’s adoption in 1979. These amendments will be the first substantive change to either rule since their inception and will create a new merged rule, The Marketing Rule, that will replace both the current advertising and cash solicitation rules.
Originally, the advisor advertising rule and cash solicitation rule were designed mainly for media such as television, radio, and newspapers. But a lot has changed since 1961 with the evolution of advertising and referral practices, advancements in technology, the introduction of the internet, and more. The Commission recognized this, stating that the new rule recognizes these changes and will “contain principles-based provisions designed to accommodate the continual evolution and interplay of technology and advice”. A few notable outcomes from this are the new rule applying to online outreach, such as adviser marketing over social media, and allowing for testimonials and endorsements.
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.
Associated person disclosures and attestations are not a “one size fits all” list of documents. The purpose of disclosures and attestations is to educate your employees on the expectations of the firm based on firm procedure and regulatory mandates. Another important purpose is to give representatives a chance to know relevant updates and changes that may require pre-approval and/or added compliance responsibilities.