ERA: Exempt Reporting Adviser Qualification – Part II

[Continued from ERA: Exempt Reporting Adviser Qualification – Part I]

SEC ERA Registration vs. State ERA Registration

Firms with more than $100 million in regulatory AUM (Large Advisers) must register with the SEC unless an exemption is available. Advisers with between $100 million and $150 million AUM solely attributable to private funds are exempt under the private fund adviser exemption, as described above. Advisers with over $150 million AUM must register with the SEC.

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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?

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Form U10 and TESS (Test Enrollment Services System)

Since our last post about Form U10, FINRA has implemented the Test Enrollment Services System (TESS). Beginning in June 2017, FINRA began transitioning all non-U4 examination enrollments to TESS and ended the utilization of the Form U10.

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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.?

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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.

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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.

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OBAs & PSTs: FINRA Seeks Comment on Proposed Rule

Last spring, FINRA began a review of its rules regarding Outside Business Activities (OBAs) and Private Securities Transactions (PSTs). The review was meant to evaluate the efficiency and efficacy of FINRA Rule 3270 (Outside Business Activities of Registered Persons) and FINRA Rule 3280 (Private Securities Transactions of an Associated Person). FINRA concluded that while Rules 3270 and 3280 are fulfilling their intended purposes, they could benefit from changes to make the rules more contemporary and present-day and to better align the goal of protecting investors with the reality of the current regulatory landscape and business practices. Based on its findings, FINRA has proposed a new rule governing OBAs and PSTs, meant to replace the current rules and reduce unnecessary burdens on member firms.

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How to Become an RIA

A registered investment advisor (“RIA”) is a person or firm that, for compensation, provides advice, makes recommendations, issues reports or furnishes analyses on securities, either directly or through publications.  Typically, an RIA manages the assets of high net worth individuals and institutional investors.  RIAs have the highest standard of care as they are deemed fiduciaries.  As a fiduciary, RIAs owe their clients a duty of undivided loyalty and utmost good faith.  If you’re interested in becoming an RIA, you must first have the proper qualifications and registrations. Read More…

Annual Reviews – SEC Rule 206(4)-7

SEC Rule 206(4)-7 requires investment advisers to review, no less frequently than annually, the adequacy of its written compliance policies and procedures and the effectiveness of their implementation. The SEC expects annual reviews to take into consideration any compliance matters that arose during the previous year, any changes in the business activities of the adviser or its affiliates, and any changes in the Investment Advisers Act or related rules that may impact the adviser’s policies and procedures. In addition, the SEC expects that an investment adviser will review its compliance policies and procedures on an interim basis in response to significant compliance issues, changes in business activities, and new regulation.  Read More…

Wrap Fee Suitability

A wrap fee program is an arrangement between financial institutions (typically broker-dealers and investment advisers) that enables customers to pay an all-inclusive fee (usually as a percentage of assets) for investment advisory services bundled with various other services, such as execution, clearing, and custodial services. Wrap fee programs create a number of suitability issues for the financial institutions that sponsor the wrap fee program or participate in the program.  Read More…