FINRA’s Top Priorities for 2021

FINRA’s Top Priorities for 2021

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:

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Disclosures and Attestations for Associated Persons

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.

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Communications surveillance

Communications Surveillance Challenges While Teleworking

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.

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Supervision

Supervision Relief Related to COVID-19 Pandemic

FINRA Rule 3110 Supervision requires a firm to establish and maintain a system to supervise the activities of its associated persons. Furthermore, the supervisory process seeks to achieve compliance with the applicable securities laws and regulations and FINRA rules.

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Communications with the Public – Part II

[Continued from Communications with the Public – Part I]

Investment Analysis Tools

Pursuant to FINRA Rules 2210(c)(3)(C) and 2214(a), firms that intend to offer an investment analysis tool must file templates for written reports produced by, or retail communications concerning, the tool, within 10 business days of first use. Rule 2214 also requires firms to provide FINRA with access to the tool itself, and provide customers with specific disclosures when firms communicate about the tool, use the tool or provide written reports generated by the tool.

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Communications with the Public – Part I

In April 2014, FINRA began a review of its communications with the public rules to assess their effectiveness and efficiency. FINRA later published a report concluding that, while the rules have met their intended investor protection objectives, they could benefit from some updating to better align the investor protection benefits and the economic impacts. To this end, the SEC recently approved amendments to certain FINRA rules governing communications with the public effective January 9, 2017.  The amendments revise the filing requirements in FINRA Rule 2210 and FINRA Rule 2214 and the content and disclosure requirements in FINRA Rule 2213.  Below is a summary of some of these changes.

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