On July 15, 2021, FINRA released Regulatory Notice 21-26 announcing changes to FINRA Rules 5122 (Private Placements of Securities Issued by Members) and 5123 (Private Placements of Securities) effective October 1, 2021. The changes will require members to file retail communications that promote or recommend private placement offerings that are subject to those rules’ filing requirements.
For advisers to utilize electronic delivery for regulatory documents such as disclosures, prospectuses, shareholder reports, and proxy solicitation materials, there are a few requirements that must be met. The SEC’s guidance states that the electronic distribution of regulatory materials must satisfy the following three elements:
- Evidence of Delivery
The Release contains over fifty Q&A examples to illustrate the interplay of these three elements – twenty-two of which relate to mutual funds. See the additional resources file for a copy of the release.
When a registered investment adviser on boards a new registered person, there are a couple of new hire forms the firm needs to collect to be compliant with applicable securities laws and regulations.
To evidence completion of new hire forms by all associated persons, firms should adopt and implement written policies and procedures reasonably designed to prevent violations. Implementation of procedures will often rely on the use of forms and other documents designed to gather or report important data. While the completion of some forms is required by law or regulation, the implementation of other forms reflects principles of good management and controls. Regulators view the adequacy of procedures and the proper completion of forms as indicators of a culture of compliance within the firm. Consequently, firms should periodically verify the adequacy of their policies, procedures, and controls related to new hire forms.
Firms will use a wide range of customized forms and attestations to help them achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations. Firms should periodically assess how it can enhance its compliance program and better supervise employees through the use of new or improved forms, reports, acknowledgments, or attestations.
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:
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.
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.