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…

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…

What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)? – Part II

[Continued from What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)? – Part I]

Online Platforms that Facilitate Trading in ICO Tokens are Not Registered Exchanges

There are no ICO platforms currently registered as exchanges. Further, the SEC has stated that it neither regulates these platforms as exchanges nor reviews the digital assets that may be listed or traded on these platforms. Many fraudulent platforms refer to themselves as exchanges to provide a sense of legitimacy and make investors assume they are regulated entities or meet the regulatory requirements and standards of a national securities exchange.

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What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)? – Part I

Digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, as well as other crypto coins and tokens, may be offered to investors in the form of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). But what is an ICO? And why are they such a regulatory hot topic in the securities industry currently?

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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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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 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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