FINRA offers helpful tips and tools for regulatory compliance
Robert Cruz, Sr.
September 24, 2019

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, recently updated its website with a broad range of new investment resources, including a comprehensive menu of compliance tools. The goal is to help firms and advisors ensure they are meeting all their regulatory requirements.

Congress has authorized FINRA to protect American investors by making sure the broker-dealer industry operates fairly and honestly. FINRA is a private corporation that serves as a self-regulatory, non-governmental organization which oversees brokerage firms and exchange markets on behalf of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In this oversight role, FINRA uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to analyze tens of billions of market events daily. Such close attention to detail enables the organization to keep a close watch on the activities of more than 634,000 brokers across the country.

The updated FINRA Compliance Tools page includes a selection of templates, checklists and directories to help protect firms and preserve the integrity of the market. These tools provide a valuable resource for broker-dealers and investment advisors to stay current on the complex state of regulatory affairs.

For instance, a Compliance Calendar lists the relevant details and deadlines for all upcoming industry events. In addition to providing a definitive directory of conferences and trade shows, the calendar also includes categories for CAT Deadlines, Regulatory Filings, Rule Filings, Requests for Comments, and Certification Due Dates.

Smaller firms can use the Cybersecurity Checklist to help establish data protection policies, from identifying threats to implementing security protections and recovery plans. In addition, a keyword-searchable Weekly Update Email Archive compiles all of FINRA’s email updates that were sent to investment professionals over the prior 12 months.

FINRA members can also get access to a Compliance Vendor Directory with a searchable list of providers of compliance-related services, such as Compliance Consulting, Cybersecurity, Data Management, Information Archiving, Exam Prep & Firm CE, Insurance Brokers, Monitoring & Surveillance, PCAOB Registered Accountants and Registration services.

An extensive Books and Records Requirements Checklist for Broker Dealers breaks down the order tickets for brokerage orders and dealer transactions; associated person ID numbers, compensation records and complaint records; and account record exemptions. Other checklists and calculators are available on the FINRA website for topics such as Anti-Money Laundering; Breakpoints Interest Refunds; Written Supervisory Procedures; and much more.

Another useful resource is the Peer-2-Peer Compliance Library. This is a one-stop source for templates, content and other materials provided by FINRA-registered firms as supplemental resources at FINRA events. Registered investment professionals can browse the library of P2PCL Templates provided by the various speakers and panelists at FINRA conferences and meetings.

FINRA.org redesigned its website to improve the user experience by adding an enhanced search function and a clearer navigation interface throughout the site. This update allows visitors to more easily interact and engage with content, including rules, notices, guidance and investor advice. The site also features insights about the latest capital markets trends and lots of other useful information.

The beta version of the site was launched on July 1 to allow users to explore the new navigation and functionality elements, and to provide feedback on their experiences. FINRA officials received more than 1,800 submissions from the feedback survey to make improvements during the two-month beta test.

The relaunch of FINRA.org in early September should be a welcome advance for the investment community. It gives industry professionals access to a free exchange of advice and tools to do a better job of watching out for investors. As FINRA continues to update and modernize its market surveillance technology, these resources can help broker-dealers and investment advisors protect their clients while safeguarding financial markets.

Robert Cruz is Senior Director of Information Governance for Smarsh. He has more than 20 years of Silicon Valley-based experience in providing thought leadership on emerging topics including eDiscovery, information governance, data privacy, and regulatory compliance. Robert holds an MBA Degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.