Michael Gross

Michael’s practice focuses on the representation of broker-dealers, investment advisors, and registered persons operating in the financial services industry. Formerly a senior attorney at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Michael provides his clients with a 360-degree view of the complex regulatory landscape and challenges that impact their businesses on a day-to-day basis, and he works proactively to help clients avoid regulatory issues, customer complaints, and other costly matters. He has significant experience representing clients in disciplinary proceedings and arbitrations, including disciplinary hearings before FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers (OHO). Michael has successfully represented clients in cases involving a wide variety of issues, including fraud, anti-money laundering (AML), sales of unregistered securities, excessive mark-ups, unsuitability, churning, disclosures, licensing, registration, records retention, and supervision.

Latest Articles

Does FINRA have jurisdiction over me? This is a question that I regularly field at the outset of regulatory engagements. My answer differs depending on a number of factors, including the nature of a person’s role and duties at a firm, his or her registration status, when the alleged misconduct occurred, whether he or she is still associated with a firm, and when the association ended. This post outlines some of the basics on FINRA’s…
It is not a wise career move for a registered rep to leave his broker-dealer – thereby abandoning his customers, and affording competitors the opportunity to make his customers their own – and then to begin the long, expensive, and uncertain process of forming a FINRA-registered broker-dealer. Common sense, principles of fundamental fairness, and good old-fashioned capitalism warrant that a rep, while registered with another broker-dealer, be able to form his own broker-dealer (or RIA…
When Michael called me to tell me about the subject of this post, I frankly thought he was making it up.  The notion that FINRA was seriously suggesting deleting one of the historically recognized essential elements of a churning claim — principally because otherwise it was too difficult for FINRA to prove churning — seemed ridiculous.  Then I read the Reg Notice.  Cleverly, FINRA tries to make it seem like the amendment isn’t necessary, arguing…
As loyal readers are undoubtedly already aware, I used to work for NASD, and Michael more recently came to Ulmer from FINRA.  That hardly means we win every FINRA Enforcement case we are engaged to defend.  To suggest that because we came through the “revolving door,” FINRA does whatever we suggest is, frankly, absurd.  I only wish it was true!  – Alan    This week, FINRA named the CEO of Janney Montgomery Scott to its…
I have spoken about FINRA possibly putting an end to the policy of pursuing cases where formal disciplinary action serves little to no regulatory purpose. That welcome paradigm shift may be upon us. This year, FINRA, in essence, pronounced that its “broken windows” strategy of pursuing Enforcement cases over the smallest and most technical violations is, well, broken. In a speech at SIFMA’s Anti-Money Laundering & Financial Crimes Conference, Susan Schroeder, the head of FINRA’s…
Here is a really interesting post from Michael regarding those potentially uncomfortable moments when FINRA calls non-complaining customers.  Because FINRA is not the government, it has no subpoena power over these people, and so needs them to cooperate voluntarily.  The problem is that FINRA does an awful job of informing non-complaining customers that they are not obliged to cooperate, and, in fact, often takes full advantage of the misapprehension in customers’ mind that they have…
Michael discusses the differences in examiners — and, potentially — examination results from District Office to District Office.  Remember, however, that such differences aren’t supposed to exist!  That’s why the Office of Disciplinary Affairs exists.  I suppose the question is whether the ODA is doing its appointed task of achieving consistency throughout FINRA. – Alan My view of FINRA examiners is akin to Forrest Gump’s view on life: FINRA examiners are like a box of chocolates.…
Here is a post from Michael about a recent settlement involving the submission of false expense reports.  The issue isn’t the misconduct, but, rather, the rather tepid sanctions imposed.  Do I sense the pendulum starting to swing back? – Alan It is no secret that FINRA’s Department of Enforcement is attempting to maintain a lower profile these days, due to the pro-business, anti-regulation sentiment emanating from the White House. This year, the number of disciplinary…
Here is a very interesting post from Michael Gross about what happens at the end of a FINRA exam.  One point that he omitted, but worth mentioning, is that in the event FINRA does issue a close-out letter stating that its exam is done and no disciplinary action will be taken, that letter cannot be used by the respondent in a parallel customer arbitration touching upon the same subject as the FINRA exam as evidence…
My dissatisfaction with FINRA’s Rule 8210 and, more specifically, the aggressive manner with which FINRA wields that rule, has been the subject of several prior blogs.  I happy to report that my partner, Michael Gross, has drunk the Kool-Aid, and joined me in tilting at this windmill.  – Alan The first paragraph of a paper calling for reform at FINRA notes that: FINRA is a regulator of central importance to the functioning of U.S. capital markets.…