Targeted Examination Request

September 2007

 

Re: Use of Professional Designations

 

FINRA is conducting an inquiry regarding the use by registered persons of professional designations or titles that use the term "Senior" or "Elder" as part of the designation or which state or imply that a person has special expertise, certification, or training in advising or servicing senior citizens ("Senior Designation")1 . We are also reviewing the use by registered persons of professional designations or titles that use the term "Retirement" or "Retiree" or which state or imply that a person has special expertise, certification, or training in advising retirees or near retirees by ("Retirement Designation")2 . To facilitate our inquiry, it is requested that you provide the following information and/or documentation:


  1. An Excel spreadsheet in electronic format containing the following information about the registered persons at the firm who currently use one or more Senior Designations or Retirement Designations in their communications with the public. Your response should include the following columns:
    1. Name of registered person;
    2. CRD number of registered person;
    3. Senior Designation(s) and/or Retirement Designation(s) used.

  2. Copies of all customer complaints and arbitration / litigation claims filed against the registered persons identified in response to question 1 during the period September 1, 2005 through September 1, 2007.

  3. A detailed description of the firm's approval process for the use of professional designations and titles.

  4. A detailed description of reviews conducted to monitor the use of professional designations at the firm.

  5. A copy of the portion(s) of the firm's written supervisory procedures, compliance manuals or branch manuals that refer to, relate to, or concern, the use of professional designations or titles in communications with the public.

  6. A description of all instances during the period January 1, 2005 through September 1, 2007, where the firm is aware of the use of false or unapproved Senior Designations or Retirement Designations by registered persons of the firm. For each instance, provide a narrative description of the incident, copies of any documentation that relates to, refers to, or concerns the incident, and a description of the terms of any disciplinary measures taken by the firm.

  7. Example copies of each unique communication with the public in which the Senior Designation(s) or Retirement Designation(s) are explained or defined.

  8. A description of all instances during the period January 1, 2005 through September 1, 2007, where the firm is aware of the use of misleading communications with the public involving Senior Designations or Retirement Designations. For each instance, provide a narrative description of the incident, copies of any materials distributed, copies of any documentation that relates to, refers to, or concerns the incident, and a description of the terms of any disciplinary measures taken by the firm.

  9. A list of all professional designations and titles that are approved by the firm for use by registered persons.

  10. A list of all professional designations and titles that are prohibited by the firm for use by registered persons.

  11. A list of each type of exception, surveillance or risk monitoring report used by the firm to identify, detect, and monitor the use of professional designations or titles. Provide a detailed explanation of the report, including information on the frequency with which the report is run, the type of activity the report is set up to monitor, and the manner in which the data is gathered, interpreted and used by the firm. In addition, include:
    1. Identification of individual(s) responsible for reviewing the report and the names of all individuals receiving copies of the report or a sub-set of the report;
    2. Copies of all procedures, explanatory documents or guidelines used in connection with each report;
    3. A copy of each type of exception report identified above for the months of December 2006 and June 2007 or that includes the months of December 2006 and June 2007, if the reports are for a period of time exceeding a month.

 

1 Responsive designations include, but are not limited to, Certified Senior Advisor, Certified Senior Consultant, Elder Care Asset Protection Specialist, Certified Elder Planning Specialist, Chartered Advisor for Senior Living, Certified Financial Gerontologist.

 

2 Designations that focus on group retirement plans should be excluded. Responsive designations include, but are not limited to, Certified Retirement Administrator, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, and Retirement Income Specialist.