CE Council and FINRA Request Comment on Potential Enhancements for the Securities Industry Continuing Education Program
WASHINGTON – The Securities Industry/Regulatory Council on Continuing Education (CE Council) is seeking comment on enhancements under consideration for the continuing education requirements for registered persons.
The CE Council—which is composed of representatives of the securities industry and securities industry self-regulatory organizations (SROs), including FINRA—develops uniform continuing education requirements for registered persons of broker-dealers (CE Program). Liaisons from the North American Securities Administrators Association and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also participate in the CE Council meetings.
“The CE Council has a long history of program enhancements, and FINRA supports the Council’s efforts to solicit industry comments for further improvements,” said John Kalohn, FINRA’s Vice President for Testing & Continuing Education. “Changes in technology and learning theory have created new opportunities to increase efficiencies and offer greater flexibility to industry professionals.”
Since 1995, the CE Program has consisted of two parts, a Regulatory Element and a Firm Element, facilitating a partnership between firms and regulators. The Regulatory Element, administered by FINRA, focuses on regulatory requirements and industry standards. The Firm Element, developed and administered by each broker-dealer, focuses on securities products, services and strategies offered by broker-dealers, amongst other topics such as firm policies and industry trends. Broker-dealers often provide additional training to registered persons and registered persons may seek additional training on their own by attending conferences and other events.
The goal of the two-part CE Program has been to provide targeted educational material that facilitates registered persons maintaining adequate knowledge and understanding of the rules and practices necessary to perform their registered activities.
The CE Council has identified a number of possible program enhancements, as well as several areas for which the CE Council is interested in gathering additional information on current firm practices and needs. By soliciting feedback, the CE Council is seeking to enhance its efforts to:
- communicate regulatory developments to the industry via the Regulatory Element in a timely fashion;
- improve coordination between firm and regulatory element programs;
- allow for diverse instructional formats that facilitate the learning of a variety of content;
- identify and reduce redundancy among training requirements and programs;
- ensure all registered professionals in the industry receive adequate training;
- enable previously registered individuals to maintain their qualification status by satisfying continuing education requirements while out of the industry; and
- consider more defined minimum standards of CE for the industry.
The CE Council is also interested in opportunities for reciprocity with other securities or related financial services credentialing programs that offer or require continuing education.
The CE Council has obtained initial feedback from a series of focus groups composed of securities industry representatives, but now seeks to reach a broader audience to gauge support and identify challenges that possible enhancements might create.
“Rigorous continuing education is essential to the unique qualification requirements for broker-dealer representatives, and we are pleased to support the CE Council’s efforts to update and enhance these programs,” said FINRA President and CEO Robert Cook. “Among the other efforts, we support exploring the possibility of allowing individuals who step away from the industry for a time, whether for professional or personal reasons, to maintain their qualifications through continuing education and then return to the industry without having to retake the qualification tests for new entrants. One aspect of considering this approach involves assessing how continuing education could be adjusted to support the ongoing qualification of representatives consistent with high standards of investor protection, and we welcome the CE Council’s effort to solicit comment in this regard.”
Comments on the Notice are requested by November 5, 2018.
Established in 1995, the CE Council facilitates the development of uniform continuing education requirements for registered persons of broker-dealers. It maintains liaison with appropriate industry groups and regulators; recommends updates to the specific content of the Regulatory Element and to the requirements for the Firm Element; and promotes the effective implementation of meaningful continuing education to the securities industry. The Council is composed of industry members from broker-dealers, representing a broad cross section of industry firms, and representatives from Self-Regulatory Organizations. Liaisons from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) also participate in the CE Council meetings.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry – brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.