The Membership Interview
The membership interview is a meeting between the FINRA staff processing the application (i.e., staff from the MAP Group), the Examination Manager and Regulatory Coordinator who will be assigned to the Applicant if the application is approved, and the primary persons who will own, control and manage the Applicant. The written Membership Interview notification sent to the Applicant will specify the representative(s) of the Applicant expected to attend the membership interview.
The Applicant may bring other appropriate persons to the interview, such as consultants or attorneys. Generally, the membership interview will be conducted at the FINRA District Office for the District in which the Applicant's main office will be located, unless otherwise agreed. Applicants must participate in the interview within 90 days of receipt of the application by FINRA or within 60 days after the receipt of additional information requested by the FINRA MAP Group staff, whichever is later. The Applicant may request an extension of the deadline for the membership interview, which FINRA may grant for good cause shown.
The membership interview serves a number of important purposes. First, the interview enables the FINRA MAP Group staff to identify for the benefit of the Applicant any open, unresolved issues, problems or concerns about the application. Second, the interview affords FINRA staff the opportunity to question the Applicant's representatives and gather additional information to assist in determining whether the Applicant meets the membership standards. Third, the interview affords the Applicant an opportunity to ask questions about the process, FINRA Rules and to gather other information relating to the regulation of a broker-dealer. Fourth, the interview enables FINRA staff to provide key information to the Applicant in order to help ensure that, if the application is approved, the Applicant is cognizant of its obligations as a member firm. The membership interview should be viewed as part of the overall review of the Applicant.
During the membership interview, the participants will discuss substantially all of the aspects of the Applicant's proposed business for which they will have regulatory and compliance responsibilities. Emphasis throughout the membership interview will be placed on the Rules applicable to the Applicant's intended business, the Applicant's supervisory structure, the background and experience of the Applicant's principals and representatives, and plans for future direction and expansion. Questions about how the Applicant will comply with Rules, how it will process transactions and how it will supervise activities, among other things, must be answered by the individual or individuals associated with the Applicant who will be responsible for those functions.
The focus of FINRA staff inquiries and a majority of the discussions during the membership interview will typically relate to the Applicant's ability to meet the Standards for Admission set forth in NASD Rule 1014. FINRA staff may provide suggestions that might facilitate a professional operation and compliance with these standards as well as applicable securities rules and regulations.
Membership interviews are designed to provide for an exchange of information between FINRA staff and persons associated with the Applicant who are qualified to provide FINRA with requested information. Persons who do not meet that profile may be excluded from meetings because of the confidentiality of the proceedings, or when the presence of such persons would not add to the process. This should not preclude the Applicant from having attorneys or consultants assist and/or attend. However, the Applicant and its associated persons should answer questions from FINRA staff. One of the purposes of the membership interview is for such persons to demonstrate their knowledge and qualifications.