Is your small broker-dealer drowning in boxes and boxes of paper? Do you cringe every time you think of storing yet another 50+ page document? Are you interested in exploring the benefits of cloud-based storage? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you must first consider your firm’s regulatory requirements for electronic storage media.
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.
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.
Today, investment advisers and broker-dealers face many challenges when providing advice to and working for senior investors. Many seniors are living with or approaching diminished capacity due to Alzheimer’s, dementia, and/or other health-related issues. Unfortunately, these health issues create vulnerability for financial exploitation from caregivers, family members, neighbors, friends, medical professionals, lawyers, clergy, bank employees, or financial service professionals.
With the transition into the electronic storage of client data, Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers are faced with more complex compliance issues regarding safeguarding client information and records. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) OCIE Risk Alert from May 2019 addresses some of the issues and concerns identified with cloud-based storage and possible issues to consider regarding the protection of electronic client and business data.
In June, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) passed “Regulation Best Interest: The Broker Dealer Standard of Conduct” and “Form CRS Relationship Summary; Amendments to Form ADV”. This legislation, Regulation Best Interest and CRS Relationship Summary, is the cumulation of many attempts to mesh the “fiduciary standard” for Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealer Representatives. The objective of this legislation and its requirements are to educate investors through disclosures regarding any conflicts, fees, costs, and whether the investment opportunities being offered are suitable for the investor. This legislation will impose new documentation requirements for both Investment Advisors and Broker-Dealer Representatives.
Thanks to technology, a majority of the gathering and reviewing of information during the due diligence process can typically be done so remotely by officers or committees of the broker-dealer. However, an operational due diligence process is not complete without an on-site visit.
During April and May 2019, FINRA introduced a new AML podcast. FINRA’s unscripted podcast explained the importance of a solid AML program, its importance to the overall industry, and best practices. Blake Snyder and Jason Foye of FINRA’s AML investigative unit were the guest speakers.
In May of 2017, FINRA released a Retrospective Rule Review 17-20 requesting comments on the effectiveness and efficiency of its Rule 3270, Outside Business Activities (“OBAs”) of Registered Persons, and Rule 3280, Private Securities Transactions (“PSTs”) of an Associated Person. Then, in February of 2018, FINRA issued Regulatory Notice 18-08 seeking additional comments on a proposed new rule, FINRA 3290, to consolidate current FINRA Rule 3270 and current FINRA Rule 3280. The proposed rule change is a result of FINRA’s retrospective rule review the year before. FINRA again sought comments on streamlining and bringing the rule up to date.
If you are a broker dealer or a supervisor at a broker dealer, I’m sure you have come across the terms Written Supervisory Procedures, Supervisory Procedures, and Compliance Systems. How many of you really know the difference, and before your eyes glaze over the rest of the article, how many of you know how to properly execute these concepts…. I’ll wait…….
Great! Now that I have your attention, there is no need to panic. The following post will walk you through the differences, some key concepts, practice pointers, and other factors you need to be aware of.