Displaying items by tag: finra
There are many reasons why an advisor might decide to switch their broker-dealer or custodian: better culture, a more supportive environment, or innovative solutions for their clients, to name a few. While these are valid reasons to consider a change, advisors who prepare for their clients’ questions will be thankful they took the time to do so if or when the time comes to move.
A helpful guide is the FINRA post “What to Ask When Your Registered Financial Professional Changes Firms,” published less than a year ago. It recommends questions an investor should ask their financial advisor who is moving firms.
At the top of the list are “Could financial incentives create a conflict of interest for your registered professional?” and “Can you transfer all your holdings?” These are understandable questions your clients might seek answers to, and having transparent and well-thought-out answers will go a long way to easing their concerns, if they have any.
If you are considering a move, check out this article and use it as a guide to prepare your communication with your clients.
Finsum: Considering switching firms as an advisor? Be ready for client questions with insights from FINRA's guide. Clear communication is key!
According to a FINRA enforcement executive at Sifma’s recent Compliance and Legal Conference, the regulatory body is planning to complete at least 1,000 Regulation Best Interest exams of broker-dealers by year's end. While FINRA has been examining Reg BI violations since the rule went live, officials have exclusively reported violations in industry-wide notices such as the 2023 FINRA Report on Exam and Risk Monitoring Program, instead of seeking enforcement actions against firms or reps. However, according to FINRA officials, “a year and a half after Reg BI went live, the enforcement gloves are coming off.” Christopher Kelly, FINRA’s acting head of enforcement, said, “A number of the firms that have been warned still haven’t remedied the [violations] the examiners…warned them about, so those will often result in referrals to enforcement.” St. Louis added that FINRA is taking a hard look at variable annuities and has at least one Reg BI enforcement in the works dealing with conflicts surrounding the contracts.
Finsum:After a year and a half of warnings, the gloves are coming off for FINRA as they plan on examining just under one-third of FINRA’s 3,300 member firms for compliance with Reg BI.
FINRA recently announced that it has fined and censured a New York firm for violations of some of the basic written and supervisory requirements of Regulation Best Interest. The violations date back to June 2020 when the advice standards went into effect. The regulatory body charged the Long Island Financial Group, a five-person broker-dealer based in Roslyn, N.Y., with failure to supervise and “to establish, maintain, and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance” with the regulation that requires advisors to put customers’ best interests ahead of their own financial gain. The firm settled the charges for a $35,000 fine, without admitting or denying guilt. The broker-dealer also received a public censure and is required to certify that it has remedied the compliance failures within 90 days. According to FINRA, Long Island Financial Group also “failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system, including written supervisory procedures, reasonably designed to achieve compliance with Reg BI.” In addition, the firm also failed to deliver to its clients Form CRS, the customer relationship summary that broker-dealer clients and prospects are supposed to receive, explaining the firm’s service offerings, products, fees, and conflicts of interest.
Finsum:A small NY firm was fined and censured by FINRA for failure to supervise, maintain, and enforce policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with Reg BI.
All the regulatory focus recently has been on the SEC and DOL, and understandably so. However, FINRA plays a big role in the lives of RIAs and BDs, and it looks poised to make a big move. FINRA is currently examining Reg BI and seeing if they believe it applies to the meme stock trading situation. In particular, FINRA is considering whether new regulations need to be put in place that govern self-directed trading which is not covered by Reg BI. FINRA says it is “committed to supporting the SEC staff’s review (announced in October 2020) of the increase in self-directed trading by retail investors that is not covered by Reg BI, and the effectiveness of existing regulatory requirements in protecting investors in those circumstances”.
FINSUM: This is still in the early stages so it is hard to tell the extent to which it may affect advisors, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.
Brokers all over the country have been nervous about enforcement of the new Reg BI rule since its implementation a couple weeks ago. While the law itself is understood, enforcement of its particulars is not, as there is no precedent or real world examples to go on. For its part, FINRA recently made comments about its forthcoming enforcement policy. According to the Associate General Counsel of FINRA, “by and large, we're going to be looking at the compliance obligations of policies procedures and training, and we're not looking at it to say
‘did a firm do everything the way that we would have done it,’ or ‘did they do everything perfectly.’ We're looking to see do they understand the obligations, and do they make a good faith effort to implement the changes that needed to be made and incorporate those in their policies procedures and training.”
FINSUM: This is generally what firms have been expecting because it is what has been broadcast, but this is a little more comforting than previous efforts out of other regulators.