Guidance on Third-Party Recordkeeping Services and SEA Rule 17a-4

As you may remember from our earlier post on the subject, under SEA Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4, a broker-dealer is required to make and keep books and records relating to its business and may maintain and preserve records by means of “electronic storage media.” The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released guidance in response[…]

Customer Identification Program (CIP): Common Questions – Part II

[Continued from Customer Identification Program (CIP): Common Questions – Part I]

What Is A “Reasonable Time” To Verify Customers’ Identities?

A customer’s identity must be verified within a “reasonable time” before or after the customer’s account is opened. The rule does not specify what counts as a “reasonable time,” and the Adopting Release for the Broker-Dealer CIP Rule emphasizes that broker-dealers must be reasonably flexible when undertaking such verification. The broker-dealer must be able to undertake verification before or after an account if opened, as the amount of time needed may depend on various factors, which is part of the firm’s risk assessment.  A firm’s CIP procedures must enable the broker-dealer to form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of each customer. Read More…

Customer Identification Program (CIP): Common Questions – Part I

In our previous post on customer identification programs, “Customer Identification Program (CIP): Definitions and Requirements,” we defined “account” and “customer” and went over the minimum requirements for CIP procedures and verification, including touching on non-documentary means of identity verification. This post will get a little more specific, addressing common questions firms have when developing and implementing their customer identification programs. Read More…

Customer Identification Program (CIP): Definitions and Requirements – Part II

[Continued from Customer Identification Program (CIP): Definitions and Requirements – Part I]

How Does Risk Assessment Affect a Firm’s CIP?

Appropriate verification procedures for a CIP are governed by a risk-based assessment. A CIP must include risk-based procedures for verifying the identity of each customer to a reasonable and practicable extent. These procedures must be based on the broker-dealer’s assessment of the relevant risks, including those presented by the types of accounts maintained by the broker-dealer, the methods of opening accounts, and the types of identification information available. Additionally, this risk-based assessment should take into consideration the broker-dealer’s size, location, and customer base.

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Customer Identification Program (CIP): Definitions and Requirements – Part I

A broker-dealer must establish, document, and maintain a written Customer Identification Program (CIP) as a part of the broker-dealer’s anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program (31 CFR 1023.220) as required by FINRA Rule 3310. The CIP must be appropriate for the broker-dealer’s size and business, and it must outline the following procedures: Read More…

FINRA Rule 3310: Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Program

FINRA Rule 3310 sets forth minimum standards for the required anti-money laundering (AML) compliance programs to be implemented by broker-dealers. This written AML compliance program must be reasonably designed to achieve and monitor compliance with the requirements of The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970 (more commonly known as the “Bank Secrecy Act” or “BSA”) and with the implementing regulations declared thereunder by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Read More…

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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How to Register as an RIA: What is a Registered Investment Adviser?

A Registered Investment Adviser, 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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