Displaying items by tag: reg bi

Wednesday, 16 August 2023 04:18

Just a reg guy

No bi week for Reg Bi, no siree.

Bill St. Louis, executive vice president and head of the National Cause and Financial Crimes Detection Program at FINRA, recently announced the intention of the organization to hold Reg Bi compliance exams of 1000 broker-dealers, according to natlawreview.com. They’ll take place by year’s end.

While on the books for nearly three years, enforcement actions under the rules has generated little action from FINRA.

Christopher Kelly, FINRA’s acting head of enforcement, said there will be no new standard applied in the enforcement actions.

“Both Reg BI for broker-dealers and the IA fiduciary standard for investment advisers are drawn from key fiduciary principles that include an obligation to act in the retail investor’s best interest and not to place their own interests ahead of the investor’s interests,” the SEC states in a staff bulletin released in late April, reported investmentnews.com.

From the staff’s perspective: “although the specific application of Reg BI and the IA fiduciary standard may differ in some respects and be triggered at different times, they generally yield substantially similar results in terms of the ultimate responsibilities owed to retail investors.”

Published in Eq: Financials

Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) was approved in 2019, although enforcement has only picked up this year. The law requires brokers to only recommend products to customers that are in their best interest. Brokers also have to be transparent with customers about any potential conflicts of interest and financial benefits to recommendations they make. 

For Investment Executive, James Langston covers Monmouth Capital Management’s multiple violations of Reg BI which has led to expulsion from the industry from FINRA. Monmouth is being charged with excessive trading of 110 client accounts between August 2020 and February 2023 by 6 company reps, leading to losses of $3.9 million. 

Unfortunately, many of the victims included ‘Gold Star’ families with their investment proceeds coming from death benefits from a family member passing away while serving in the military. 

 In addition to FINRA taking action against the brokerage, the Department of Justice and SEC charged Caz Craffy, a former US Army financial counselor and Monmouth broker, for defrauding clients through excessive trading and risky investing. He also had a blatant conflict of interest given his dual roles as a broker and financial counselor. Overall, he earned $1.4 million in commision from clients with losses of $3.4 million due to bad trades. 

Finsum: FINRA, the SEC, and Department of Justice are pursuing action against Monmouth Capital Management due to violations of REG BI and mismanagement of clients’ funds.


Published in Wealth Management
Wednesday, 05 July 2023 01:15

Questions Remain About Reg BI Implementation

In an article for InvestmentNews, Mark Schoeff Jr. covers the latest developments in the SEC and FINRA’s implementation of Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI). Reg BI was passed in 2019 and implemented in 2020. It requires brokers to only recommend products to customers that are in their best interests, while also informing clients of any potential conflicts of interest and financial benefits to them. 

There were some questions about how Reg BI would fit in along with ‘fiduciary duty’ which is another standard that brokers must abide by. Based on recent SEC comments, it seems as if the Reg BI and fiduciary duty are working in tandem to ensure that brokers are placing their clients’ interests above their own. They also stress that although both may be triggered at different times, they are having a similar impact in terms of promoting better behavior from brokers.

In recent months, enforcement of Reg BI and the fiduciary standard have increased. In part, it’s due to greater clarity around the topic and a change in SEC leadership to Chair Gary Gensler and control of the body by Democrats. Until Gensler’s tenure, Republicans see Reg BI as the primary tool for oversight, while Democrats traditionally favor the fiduciary standard.

Finsum: One area of confusion has been the implementation of Reg BI which overlaps with the fiduciary standard for broker-dealers. Recently, the SEC has been saying that both are effective tools that are resulting in better behavior for brokers.


Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 16 May 2023 08:06

FINRA Boots SW Financial, Cites Reg BI

In an article for FinancialPlanning, Dan Shaw covered FINRA expelling SW Financial of Melville, NY for a variety of violations of industry rules. FINRA cited the firm selling private placement IPOs that were unsuitable for some of its customers. This is a violation of Reg BI, where brokers can only sell private shares to wealthy or accredited investors. 

As of April 2023, SW Financial had 38 representatives, 4 branches, and had been operating since 2007. SW Financial’s co-owner and CEO Thomas Diamante was suspended from the financial industry for 9 months and fined $50,000. Diamante and SW Financial agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying guilt. 

FINRA also said that the firm notified clients that it was receiving a 10% commission on the private placement but not that it would be getting an additional 5% in selling compensation. This is another violation of industry rules, where 10% is the most commission that can be earned. 

In total, the firm received about $2 million in compensation that created a ‘conflict of interest’ for the firm and its clients. They were also cited for a failure to conduct proper due diligence.

Finsum: FINRA expelled SW Financial for failing to follow Reg BI and churning customer accounts. 


Published in Wealth Management

Regulators are looking to get more aggressive about enforcement of Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) which was passed in 2020. Regulators are particularly focused on sales practices to ensure that fiduciary standards are followed according to a Thomson Reuters article by Richard Satran.

Reg BI mandates that recommendations are offered with impartial advice and explanation of alternatives, including to competing firms. Along with the SEC, Reg BI has also been adopted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). 

One challenge for firms and regulators is that automated monitoring of transactions to ensure compliance is lacking. According to Parham Nasseri, VP in product and regulatory strategy at compliance software developer InvestorCOM, Inc: “Putting the risk assessments into a surveillance system for Reg BI compliance involves significantly more challenges than the kind of monitoring that systems have done in the past.” 

New elements to monitor include conflicts of interest, customer profiles, costs, alternative investments, and other client-specific factors. Along with the technological challenges, firms will have to comply with new exam requirements to comply with new sales practice rules. 

Finsum: Reg BI was passed in 2020 but regulators were slow to begin aggressive enforcement given the pandemic. This is changing and firms will be forced to rapidly update sales practices, training, and monitoring.

Published in Wealth Management
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