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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Updates

March 11, 2020
Volume 10

 
 
guidance

Guidance
  • Regulatory Notices
upcoming

Upcoming Deadlines and Effective Dates
  • FINRA Requests for Comment
  • SEC Request for Comment
education

Education and Compliance Programs

This week, the FINRA Board of Governors will hold its first meeting of 2020. At the meeting, the Board will discuss several key items, including FINRA's long-term planning and financial sustainability, funding for TRACE systems, the proposed allocation of 2019 fine monies, and FINRA’s regulatory obligations with the development of the Consolidated Audit Trail. The Board will also discuss 2020 Governor vacancies and upcoming large- and small-firm Governor elections.
 


FINRA launches new data on Treasury Securities Trading Volume. FINRA has for the first time posted weekly, aggregate data on the trading volume of Treasury securities reported to TRACE®, FINRA’s Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine®. The new Treasury Aggregate Statistics report provides trading volume in U.S. Treasury securities reported to TRACE for the prior week. The information is aggregated by Treasury security subtype: bills, floating rate notes, nominal coupons, and Treasury inflation-protected securities. Securities firms began reporting Treasury transactions to FINRA in July 2017, with the goal of providing regulators and policymakers with additional information to increase understanding and enhance surveillance of this bellwether market.
 



In response to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and to safeguard the wellbeing of both FINRA staff and participants, FINRA has canceled the West Region Member Forum on March 26 in San Francisco, CA, and postponed the Diversity Summit on April 1 in New York, NY. FINRA is closely monitoring guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies and will assess the feasibility of safely hosting future events—including the FINRA Annual Conference—on a case-by-case basis. For the latest updates, visit FINRA’s website.
 

 Guidance

Pandemic-Related Business Continuity Planning, Guidance and Regulatory Relief

Due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), FINRA reminds member firms to consider pandemic-related business continuity planning, including whether their business continuity plans (BCPs) are sufficiently flexible to address a wide range of possible effects in the event of a pandemic in the United States. Each member firm is also encouraged to review its BCP to consider pandemic preparedness and to review its emergency contacts to ensure that FINRA has a reliable means of contacting the firm. Regulatory Notice 20-08 also provides pandemic-related guidance and regulatory relief to member firms from some requirements. As coronavirus-related risks decrease, member firms should expect to return to meeting any regulatory obligations for which relief has been provided. 


2020 GASB Accounting Support Fee to Fund the Governmental Accounting Standards Board

In February 2012, pursuant to an SEC order, FINRA established an accounting support fee (GASB Accounting Support Fee) to adequately fund the annual budget of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). The GASB Accounting Support Fee is collected on a quarterly basis from member firms that report trades to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB). Each member firm’s assessment is based on its portion of the total par value of municipal securities transactions reported by all FINRA member firms to the MSRB during the previous quarter. As described in Regulatory Notice 20-09, FINRA will assess and collect a total of $10,022,000 to adequately fund GASB’s annual budget by collecting $2,505,500 from its member firms each calendar quarter beginning in April 2020.

 

 Upcoming Deadlines and Effective Dates

FINRA Requests for Comment

FINRA’s Capital Acquisition Broker (CAB) rules provide a simplified rulebook for broker-dealers that engage only in limited capital advisory, corporate restructuring and private placement activities. FINRA is requesting comment on proposed amendments to the CAB rules, as described in Regulatory Notice 20-04, to make them more useful to CABs without reducing investor protection. The comment period expires March 30, 2020.

FINRA is requesting comment on a proposal to implement the recommendations of the CE Council regarding enhancements to the continuing education requirements for securities industry professionals. The proposal, described in Regulatory Notice 20-05, would change the: (1) Regulatory Element to provide annual training, make the content more relevant, incorporate diverse instructional formats, publicize the learning topics in advance and enhance the related management systems; (2) Firm Element to expressly recognize other training requirements, improve the guidance and resources available to firms and establish a content catalog; and (3) Continuing Education Program to enable individuals who terminate their registrations the option of maintaining their qualification by completing continuing education. The comment period expires April 20, 2020.

SEC Request for Comment on FINRA Rules

The SEC requests comment on FINRA’s proposal to amend the Code of Arbitration Procedure for Customer Disputes ("Customer Code") and the Code of Arbitration Procedure for Industry Disputes ("Industry Code") to apply minimum fees to requests for expungement of customer dispute information. The comment period expires March 18, 2020. See the Federal Register notice.

 

 Education and Compliance Programs

Gain insight into key priorities at FINRA’s Annual Conference, which takes place May 12–14 in Washington, DC. Attend informative sessions on topics including cybersecurity, Regulation Best Interest, social media and more. PLUS—join us for an Opening Night Reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Register today!


Registration is open for the 2020 Small Firm Conference. The event will be held on November 11–12 in Santa Monica, California, and will bring together FINRA staff and industry peers for in-depth discussions on small firms' practices. Register early to receive discounted registration rates!


Save the Date for these upcoming FINRA events:

  • FINRA Institute at Georgetown Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional® Program – Week I | July 19–24, 2020 | Washington, DC
  • Fixed Income Conference | September 24, 2020 | New York, NY (registration opening soon)
  • FINRA Institute at Georgetown Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional® Program – Week II | November 15–20, 2020 | Washington, DC

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