New FINRA360 Initiative Provides Small Firms Additional Assistance
WASHINGTON — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today launched a Small Firm Helpline, the latest in a series of actions to enhance support for small firms that have been taken as part of the FINRA360 organizational improvement program.
FINRA employees answering the toll-free Helpline, which will operate 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) Monday through Friday, will provide direct assistance with answers to general and routine questions, and direct callers to the proper regulatory staff and other departments. The Small Firm Helpline will complement the work of FINRA’s Regulatory Coordinators, who are the primary points of contact for firms seeking technical assistance or regulatory information.
Firms can call the Helpline number at (833) 26-FINRA or (833-263-4672).
“One of the real benefits of our role as a self-regulatory organization is our ability to provide firms with the tools and resources to help them comply with regulations – and this new resource is aimed squarely at doing that,” said FINRA President and CEO Robert Cook. “The Helpline will serve as the clearinghouse for more routine calls and general information, which will make it faster and easier for small firms to get answers, and will free up other critical FINRA resources to help firms with more substantive matters such as examinations, financial questions, the implementation of rules and licensing requirements.”
There are approximately 3,400 small firms registered with FINRA. These firms employ 150 or fewer registered representatives.
FINRA has taken a number of actions under the FINRA360 organizational review to enhance its support for small firms, including having:
- initiated rule reviews to help find ways to reduce the regulatory burden for small firms while maintaining important investor protections;
- developed a Compliance Vendor Directory to give small firms more choice when searching for third-party vendors in support of a variety of compliance functions;
- created a Compliance Calendar that gives firms a calendar view of regulatory deadlines, upcoming educational programs and other events, including rule effectiveness and implementation dates;
- updated RSS subscription feeds to ensure firms receive real-time alerts for FINRA news releases, regulatory notices, requests for comment and rule filings;
- enhanced educational offerings and reduced conference fees;
- provided additional small firm scholarships for the Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional (CRCP) Scholarship Program; and
- improved the small firm section of FINRA’s website to give firms quick access to information affecting them, such as information about the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT), frequently asked questions regarding FINRA’s rules related to financial exploitation of seniors, and a small firm cybersecurity checklist.
In addition, FINRA has made several other recent enhancements under FINRA360 to assist firms – including the publication of a Report on FINRA Examination Findings; and a services agreement with the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) to reduce the reporting burdens and compliance costs associated with filing annual audited financial statements and supplemental reports. FINRA is also moving forward with a streamlined examination process for individuals entering or re-entering into the securities industry, which will include a general-knowledge Securities Industry Essentials Examination.
FINRA also plans to launch in the coming months periodic conference calls to provide an additional forum for small broker-dealers to hear directly from senior FINRA staff regarding selected regulatory developments, potential areas for compliance focus and tools or resources that are available to assist with compliance.
As part of FINRA360, FINRA continues to explore other enhancements and initiatives to help small and larger firms efficiently meet their compliance obligations.
FINRA is 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.