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In a July 2018 regulatory notice (Regulatory Notice 18-20, available here: http://www.finra.org/sites/default/files/notice_doc_file_ref/Regulatory-Notice-18-20.pdf), FINRA has requested that members notify it if they engage, or intend to engage, in any activities related to digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies. In addition, until July 31, 2019, FINRA requests that firms notify their point of contact with FINRA, their regulatory coordinators, if they begin to engage in new activities of this type. Relevant activities include, among other things: transactions…
On July 2, 2018, the State of Massachusetts announced that it was investigating 10 broker-dealers that have 15% or more of their agents with current disciplinary incidents and that offer private placements to individual investors. According to the announcement, the investigation arises in large measure due to a recent Wall Street Journal investigation into these types of firms, which targeted senior investors in particular. The Wall Street Journal’s article on the subject can be found at…
In the third release comprising part of the package of proposed rules and forms related to broker-dealers’ and investment advisers’ standards of conduct, the SEC proposed a new disclosure document to be used by registered broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, and dual registrants. The new client relationship summary, or “Form CRS,” would provide certain basic disclosures to retail investors at the account opening stage. Form CRS would be an additive disclosure; it is not designed to…
According to the SEC, its April 18, 2018 release proposing an interpretation of the standard of conduct for investment advisers is intended to “reaffirm – and in some cases clarify – certain aspects of the fiduciary duty that an investment adviser owes to its clients under section 206” of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. As discussed in greater detail in this alert, however, the proposed interpretation, if adopted, appears to expand the parameters of…
On April 18, 2018, the SEC introduced new Regulation Best Interest for broker-dealers and their associated persons when dealing with retail customers. This alert provides background of broker-dealer regulation, an overview of Regulation Best Interest, and our take on what this means for broker-dealers going forward. This alert is one in a series of Client Alerts on recent SEC proposals regarding regulation of broker-dealers and investment advisers. Read our client alert.…
On April 20, 2018, FINRA issued proposed amendments to Rule 2111’s “quantitative suitability” provisions. According to FINRA, the proposal is designed to more effectively counter the problem of “churning,” or excessive trading in customer accounts. As discussed below, the proposal arrives shortly after the SEC’s proposal of “Regulation BI” and illustrates how these two regulators will need to coordinate in order to ensure that broker-dealers are not subject to inconsistent sets of rules. The proposal,…
On March 19, 2018, FINRA updated its guidance on its recent amendments to Rule 2232. The new requirements, which are currently scheduled to take effect on May 14, 2018, apply to transactions with retail customers (not institutional accounts, as defined in Rule 4512(c)[1]) in corporate and agency debt securities. Beginning on the effective date, FINRA will require confirmation disclosure of additional transaction-related information, including mark-ups and mark-downs, time of execution, and a hyperlink…
On February 15, 2018, the Enforcement Section of the Massachusetts Securities Division (the “Division”) of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth charged a registered broker-dealer (the “Broker-Dealer”) that operated in Massachusetts with violating its own internal policies designed to ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (the “DOL”) Fiduciary Rule. The DOL Fiduciary Rule The DOL Fiduciary Rule significantly expands the scope of persons who will be deemed fiduciaries when dealing with…
On February 15, 2018, the Enforcement Section of the Massachusetts Securities Division (the “Division”) of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth charged a registered broker-dealer (the “Broker-Dealer”) that operated in Massachusetts with violating its own internal policies designed to ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (the “DOL”) Fiduciary Rule. The DOL Fiduciary Rule The DOL Fiduciary Rule significantly expands the scope of persons who will be deemed fiduciaries when dealing with…
In January 2018, FINRA issued guidance on the provisions of Rule 2165 and the amendments to Rule 4512, which were approved in February 2017. The new requirements are aimed at preventing the financial exploitation of seniors, and are scheduled to take effect on February 5, 2018. The new FAQs principally reiterate prior guidance clarifying the changes. For example, a significant portion of this guidance was previously discussed in the supplemental materials that accompanied the new…