Displaying items by tag: regulations

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

According to a Cogent Syndicated report from Escalent, advisors are not optimistic about the future of ESG investing partly due to growing political tension. Last year, 58% of advisors used ESG investments, down 10 percentage points from 2020, according to the Livonia, Michigan-based firms survey of over 500 financial advisors in September. In addition, only 15% of advisors who used ESG agree with its importance, while the majority of advisors don’t think ESG investing is a significant factor in attracting new clients. As part of the report, Linda York, a senior vice president in the financial services research division of Escalent, stated, “In the past six months, the topic of ESG investing has become even more divisive as political tensions rise. With firms suffering public backlash from using what many call ‘woke’ investment strategies, many advisors are waiting for clarity from regulators before using ESG investments. Increased supervision from federal or state legislature with added qualifications and reporting can only help in terms of ESG becoming more popular among advisors and investors alike.” In examining the reasons for the growing tension, Escalent said that advisors were concerned by the inconsistent definitions and perceived negative public sentiment of ESG.

Finsum:Based on the results of a recent report from Escalent, advisors are not optimistic about the future of ESG due to inconsistent definitions and perceived negative public sentiment.

Published in Wealth Management
Sunday, 19 February 2023 13:45

FINRA Fines New York Firm for Reg BI Violations

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.

Published in Wealth Management

There are numerous ways advisors can generate leads for their business such as word-of-mouth marketing or cold-calling, but social media can provide them with a much larger landscape in which to work and is less time-consuming. That is according to Rebecca Lake who recommended five ways for advisors to drive business through social media in an article on SmartAsset. In terms of which social media platform to use, that depends on your target client demographics. For instance, if your target client is younger, your best bet is on Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter. But if your target client is older, then you might get better results on Facebook or YouTube. Lake’s first tip is to be authentic as it’s essential to build trust with prospective clients. For instance, you could share a little about yourself on social media. Her next tip is to be consistent, as it’s also important in building trust. Posting quality content on a regular schedule is ideal. Lake’s third tip is to provide value. The content has to provide value for the people who see it. Plus, valuable content gets shared, which can help you attract even more business. The next tip is to engage with the people viewing your content. This could include replying to comments or even asking your followers to participate in a survey. The fifth and final tip is to be compliant with federal regulations and your firm’s regulations.

Finsum:Rebecca Lake, a contributor for SmartAsset, provided five tips for advisors to drive business through social media, including being authentic, consistent, compliant, providing value, and engaging with followers.

Published in Wealth Management
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