Annual Compliance

Annual Compliance Requirements: Year-End Priorities

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.

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2019 FINRA Renewal Program

2019 FINRA Renewal Program for BDs and RIAs

The 2019 FINRA Renewal Program for Broker-Dealers, Investment Adviser Firms, Investment Adviser Agents, Investment Adviser Representatives, and Branches is scheduled to begin on November 12, 2018.

Firms should note the following key dates in the renewal process:

  • November 12, 2018 – Preliminary statements are available via the E-Bill section of WebCRD. Preliminary statements are not mailed to firms.
  • December 17, 2018 – Full payment of Preliminary Statements is due.
  • January 2, 2019 – Final Statements are available via the E-Bill section of WebCRD.
  • January 21, 2019 – Full Payment of Final Statements is due.

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FINRA Enhances Disclosure Review Process

As I’m sure you already know from reading our previous blogs on the subject, FINRA Rule 3110(e) (Responsibility of Member to Investigate Applicants for Registration) requires that member firms must “ascertain by investigation the good character, business reputation, qualifications, and experience of an applicant” prior to submitting a Form U4 and requesting to associate and register such an applicant with the firm. However, as recently announced, FINRA has made enhancements to its disclosure review process that will make this verification easier than ever.  Such enhancements will allow member firms to rely upon FINRA’s verification process for purposes of compliance with the requirement to conduct a search of public records relating to bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

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How to Register as an RIA: State Registration vs. SEC Registration

In our previous blog on Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs), “How to Register as an RIA: What is a Registered Investment Adviser?”, 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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Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part II

[Continued from Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part I]

Funding Portal Registration Process

Firms seeking to register as funding portals must do so via completion of an application process with FINRA.  The registration process for a funding portal is similar to, but much less comprehensive and exhaustive, the New Member Registration process completed by applicants wishing to become broker-dealers.

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Crowdfunding: Funding Portal Registration – Part I

Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, enacted in 2012, provides guidance and regulation relating to securities offered or sold through crowdfunding activities. In 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) added onto this initial act by creating a new ruleset that implemented a regulatory framework for intermediaries that facilitate such crowdfunding transactions. This includes regulations for a relatively new intermediary: the funding portal. Securities Act Section 4(a)(6) (otherwise known as “Regulation CF”) requires that intermediaries in crowdfunding transactions be registered with the SEC as either a broker-dealer or a funding portal.

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What is on the Series 7 exam?

The financial services industry is heavily regulated.  In order to enter into the industry and sell securities, you must first prove that you have the competence.  In order to showcase your competency, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) requires that you take the Series 7 exam, also known as the General Securities Registered Representative Qualification Exam.  In order to take the exam, you must be sponsored by a FINRA member firm. Read More…

Investment Advisers: SEC vs. State Registration

Due to the Dodd-Frank legislation, as of mid-2012, there are rules for registration eligibility that are primarily determined by a firm’s assets under management (“AUM”). For all firms below $100 million AUM, registration is required with the appropriate state jurisdictions.  For firms above $100 million AUM, registration will be at the SEC level, unless a registration exemption exists. In order to account for fluctuations in AUM, the SEC has imposed, by rule, a buffer for Investment Advisers with AUM between $90 million and $110 million. An adviser may register with the SEC once it reaches AUM of $100 million. An adviser must register with the SEC if it’s AUM is $110 million or more at the time they file their annual ADV amendment. Once registered with the SEC, a mid-size adviser can remain registered with the SEC as long as its AUM is at least $90 million at the time they file their ADV amendment.  Read More…