Broker- Dealer Law Corner

Broker- Dealer Law Corner

Category Archives: Supervision

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FINRA’s AML Fines: Murky (And Expensive) Waters

Posted in AML, Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Rule 3011, Rule 3310, Sanctions, Supervision
In this post, Michael Gross complains — and rightly so — about the lack of any definitive guidance from FINRA regarding the appropriate range of fines to be imposed for AML violations.  The bigger issue, however, at least in my view, is not necessarily the lack of guidance, but the fact that the fines FINRA… Continue Reading

As Berthel Fisher Just Learned, Those Who Don’t Know FINRA’s History Of Disciplinary Actions Are Doomed To Repeat It

Posted in Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Supervision
I have often used these posts to lament the fact that FINRA consistently acts as an enforcement driven group of crazed examiners, hell-bent on writing firms up for technical violations, at best, uncaring about the dramatic ramifications of their seemingly ceaseless attack on well-meaning broker-dealers and their owners. While I still harbor those feelings, occasionally… Continue Reading

FINRA Tweaks The Sanction Guidelines Again And – Guess What? – It Wasn’t To Make Them Gentler

Posted in Defenses, Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Sanctions, Supervision
Remember a few weeks ago? Remember I blogged about Robert Cook, FINRA’s new CEO?  And how he was saying all the right things about FINRA perhaps being juuuuust a bit too Enforcement oriented?  I expressed hope – sincere but wary hope – that given his remarks, it was possible that the pendulum might actually start… Continue Reading

In AML World, The Need To File A SAR Can, Apparently, Be Too Obvious To Ignore

Posted in AML, Compliance, Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, SEC, Supervision
If you’re reading this, then you undoubtedly already know that FINRA and SEC are, simply, AML crazy. Rightly or wrongly, they are both focusing more than ever on broker-dealers’ fulfillment of their supervisory obligation to be sensitive to the laundry list of red flags first articulated in a Notice to Members back in 2002 that… Continue Reading

According To FINRA, “Culture Of Compliance” Is Not Only Definable, It’s Enforceable

Posted in Compliance, Culture, Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Supervision
Earlier this year, as part of its 2016 Examination Priorities, FINRA spent a lot time discussing the “culture of compliance” at broker-dealers, the notion that firms need to create an atmosphere where compliance with rules and regulations is more than just lip service, but, rather, where it is a priority established by firm management –… Continue Reading

Good Grief! MetLife Agrees To $20 Million Fine, And Another $5 Million In Restitution! For Negligence!

Posted in annuities, Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Suitability, Supervision
FINRA announced today that it entered into a settlement with MetLife Securities, Inc. in which MetLife agreed to pay FINRA a $20 million fine and its customers up to $5 million in compensation for, basically, making misrepresentations over a five-year period to customers who replaced one variable annuity with another regarding the costs of making… Continue Reading

Highlights from Day One of SIFMA-CL Conference

Posted in Best execution, CCO liability, Culture, Fiduciary duty, Fiduciary Standard, FINRA, municipal securities, SEC, SIFMA, Supervision
Opening Session/Firm Culture/CCO Liability. If you are reading this blog, then you, like me, have been probably eagerly waiting for the start of SIFMA’s annual Compliance and Legal conference not just for the jumbo shrimp at the reception, but also to learn some insights from the regulators about their concerns and intentions. If you attended… Continue Reading

FINRA’s 2016 Examination Priorities Letter: Focus On “Firm Culture”

Posted in Compliance, Expungement, FINRA, Senior Investors, Suitability, Supervision
Yesterday, FINRA released its annual Examination Priorities Letter in which it set forth the top issues that would guide its examinations in the coming year. Running 13 pages in length (while complaining about having to be so “brief”), FINRA set forth some of the “many areas of potential concern” it expects to encounter this year.… Continue Reading

SEC Offers Guidance On Compliance: Don’t Forget The Basics

Posted in Compliance, Conflict of Interest, Examination, FINRA, Supervision
I posted several blogs this summer about our victory over the SEC in the Robare case (which, naturally, has been appealed by the SEC’s unhappy Division of Enforcement). One of the key elements in our ability to prevail in that matter was my client’s extensive use of outside securities consultants to assist in the preparation and… Continue Reading

The Ongoing Puzzle Of Ongoing Due Diligence

Posted in Disciplinary Process, Due diligence, Enforcement, Examination, Fiduciary Standard, FINRA, Private Placement, Reg D, Rule 2111, Supervision
I am currently in the midst of a FINRA examination that is largely focused on the adequacy of the due diligence that my broker-dealer client conducted of a private placement. What is puzzling about the exam is that FINRA is not just interested in the due diligence that was conducted prior to effecting any sales… Continue Reading

Compliance Officer Liability: Findings Without Sanctions? The Plot Thickens

Posted in Administrative Proceedings, appeal, Compliance, Enforcement, RIA, Sanctions, SEC, Supervision
We have previously posted on the issue of CCO liability, a very sensitive subject, to say the least, for many readers of this blog.  If this is a subject that interests you, then there was a very intriguing development this past week in this area that merits your attention. It came in the form of… Continue Reading

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: The Regulation of Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) Conduct

Posted in Compliance, Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, SEC, Supervision
Yesterday, the SEC held its 2015 “National Compliance Outreach Program for Broker-Dealers.” The program was designed to “provide[] an open forum for regulators and industry professionals to share strong compliance practices and promote the exchange of ideas to develop an effective compliance structure.” In the spirit of this cooperation, SEC Chairwoman White opened the conference… Continue Reading

For Those About to be Suspended: The Guessing Game is Over Whether You Can Receive Your Trails

Posted in Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Rule 2040, Rule 8311, Sanctions, Supervision, suspension, Trail commissions
There are lots of FINRA rules, so many that some don’t get the attention they deserve because others, like the suitability rule or the supervision rule, generally hog the limelight. Moreover, some rules have such narrow application that you may not realize they even exist because they impact only a very few people or entities.… Continue Reading

Day Two of FINRA’s Annual Conference

Posted in Enforcement, Examination, FINRA, Registered Representative, Rule 2111, Senior Investors, Suitability, Supervision
I wish I was able to report some fireworks, or something semi-controversial, but FINRA and its hand-picked panelists managed to avoid saying anything particularly remarkable in any way. If you have never attended one of these conferences, and think that people come to learn cutting edge strategies, forget it. It is all very basic, very… Continue Reading

FINRA’s New Sanction Guidelines: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted in Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, FINRA, Sanctions, Settlements, Supervision
Just a week ago, I ran a post about FINRA’s Sanction Guidelines, suggesting that they appear to have no relevance anymore, given the vast disparity between fines that FINRA is actually imposing in settled cases, on the one hand, and the supposed maximum fines described in the Sanction Guidelines, on the other. In an excellent… Continue Reading

Do The FINRA Sanction Guidelines Continue To Have Any Relevance?

Posted in Disciplinary Process, Enforcement, Sanctions, Settlements, Supervision
I read with interest the press release FINRA issued this week announcing an $11.7 million settlement with LPL, principally over what FINRA characterized as “widespread supervisory failures.” There were two things most noteworthy to me.[1] The first, interestingly, is not the size of the monetary sanctions (a $10 million fine plus $1.7 million in restitution),… Continue Reading
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