Broker- Dealer Law Corner

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…
The securities industry’s concern over the aging of the U.S. population, specifically, aging investors, has, apparently, reached a fever pitch. Yesterday in New York, SIFMA hosted its “Senior Investor Protection Conference – One Year Later: FINRA Rules 2165 and 4512,” and, for a securities conference, it received pretty extensive news coverage. I saw at least two articles published today that discussed what transpired, and both stressed the same underlying points: first, abuse of elders is…
About a year ago, the SEC offered investment advisors the unique opportunity to report themselves to the SEC if they sold mutual funds to their clients that offered a lower priced share class than the class actually selected by the advisor, but failed adequately to disclose the conflict of interest that created.  For those advisors willing to self-report under the Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative – and pay their customers whatever excess fees they paid…
In what has become an annual, but hardly exciting – I mean, it’s not like anxiously awaiting the day that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training – tradition, with the turning of the calendar to the new year, FINRA has once again released a letter announcing what it deems to be its priorities for the upcoming examination season. FINRA claims to have tried something new this year, “by focusing primarily on those topics that…
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…
What exists at the point where PIABA’s transparent self-interest in getting paid and FINRA’s historical lack of transparency about who is actually driving its agenda regarding arbitrations? This: a late December decision by FINRA to propose a rule that prohibits non-lawyers from representing – for a fee – customers in arbitrations, and an even more recent Investor Alert from FINRA that poses the question whether such customers should hire an attorney to represent them. Read…
On Friday last week, FINRA released a report discussing the findings from its 2018 exams, providing what it described as “selected observations” that were deemed to have “potential significance.” Even with that tepid introduction, in theory, this is still a great idea, since anyone in the industry, even so-called “good” or “clean” firms, should welcome the chance to learn lessons from all those other firms who have managed to find themselves on FINRA’s radar screen.…
If you’ve read this blog for even a short while, you know my feelings on Rule 8210, or, more specifically, how FINRA uses that rule, i.e., as a cudgel to keep member firms and their associated persons in line. Endless 8210 requests for documents and information, sometimes asking multiple times for the same stuff, each one requiring the devotion of significant time, effort and money; this is what haunts broker-dealers these days. This is why…
Last year I wrote about FINRA’s effort to encourage firms to self-report their problems, pausing to wonder at the suggestion attributed to Jessica Hopper, a Senior Vice President with Enforcement, that cooperating with FINRA by self-reporting “not only fulfills a firm’s regulatory responsibilities, but it can also mean the difference between a slap on the wrist and a steep fine, should the infraction elevate to an enforcement case.” Well, last week, LPL Financial got tagged…
I just read an article about a research study conducted of FINRA arbitrations by three people associated with Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Texas, respectively, and their overarching conclusion is a doozy.  Now, admittedly, I have not read the study itself (as it costs $5 to get a copy), so I only know what I read in the article about the study, which I am assuming is correct.  Let me get right to it.…