Custody of Cryptocurrency: Considerations for Broker-Dealers

It is evident that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) are constantly putting efforts forward to navigate the unchartered waters of cryptocurrency. Just days before Blockstack’s Reg A+ token offering received SEC approval, the SEC and FINRA issued a joint statement to provide guidance and encourage innovation and ongoing discussions with market participants on the idea of the custody of cryptocurrency for broker-dealers.

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SEC Approved Cryptocurrency Reg A+ Offering

Last month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally gave a blockchain startup company, Blockstack, approval to sell bitcoin-like digital tokens directly to investors— to some extent.  The SEC has previously sued and fined several cryptocurrency companies for initial coin offerings (ICO) that the agency said violated securities law.

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The Senior Safe Act: “Immunity” with Conditions

On May 23, 2019, the SEC, NASAA, and FINRA published a year-end review of the Senior Safe Act which became federal law one year ago. In doing so, they also issued a Fact Sheet to help raise awareness with financial institutions and describe how the Act’s immunity provisions work.

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Custody for Private Fund Advisers

If you are an adviser to a private fund (i.e. hedge fund or pooled investment vehicle), do you know if you are deemed to have custody? If so, is your Form ADV Part I completed correctly?

Since there is a significant increase in compliance responsibilities for firms that have custody of client funds and/or securities, it’s critical that you consider whether or not your firm will be deemed to have custody.

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SEC Amends Disclosure Requirements

In August 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or the “Commission”) adopted amendments to eliminate, integrate, update, or modify certain disclosure requirements that the Commission has deemed to have become duplicative, overlapping, or outdated in light of other SEC disclosure requirements, U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“U.S. GAAP”), or changes in the information environment. The amendments are intended to aid the disclosure of information to investors and to simplify compliance without significantly altering the total mix of information provided to investors.

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SEC Adopts Amendments to Rule 15c2-12 to Improve Municipal Securities Disclosure

In August 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced that it has adopted amendments to Rule 15c2-12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), in an effort to enhance transparency in the municipal securities market. The SEC has stated that the commission believes the amendments will provide[…]

How to Register as an RIA: Rule 203 A-2(c)

As you may remember from our earlier blogs on registered investment advisers (RIAs), whether a firm should be registered as an investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or with a state is typically determined by the amount of regulatory assets the firm has that receive continuous and regular supervision or management (collectively known as a firm’s “regulatory assets under management” or “regulatory AUM”); with some exceptions, firms that have over $100 million of regulatory AUM must register with the SEC, while smaller advisers must register with state securities authorities instead. But, what if a new investment adviser doesn’t currently have over $100 million of regulatory AUM, but expects to soon? Is the firm required to wait until it has over $100 million of regulatory AUM to register with the SEC?

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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 to a letter received from FINRA regarding contractual arrangements between broker-dealers and third-party recordkeeping service providers – more specifically, contractual arrangements that include provisions permitting the third-party recordkeeping service providers to delete or discard the broker-dealer’s records, typically due to non-payment by the broker-dealer of fees due under the contract.  FINRA recapped the guidance received from the SEC in its Regulatory Notice 18-31.

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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…