News – Bates Research

Bates Research  |  04-09-21

AML Watch: FinCen Seeks Comments on Beneficial Ownership Reporting, SEC Issues Alert on SARs Compliance Deficiencies and Guidance

The new Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), which became law on January 1, 2021, expanded the Bank Secrecy Act regulatory framework, requiring substantial attention to additional regulator guidance and AMLA-related proposed rulemakings. On April 1, 2021, FinCEN issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on beneficial ownership reporting. On March 29, 2021, the SEC Division of Examinations issued a risk alert on AML program compliance, and, in particular, red flag areas where broker dealers can improve their suspicious activity monitoring and reporting. In this article, Bates takes a closer look at these two new AML developments and what it means for your firm.

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Bates Research  |  04-01-21

FINRA Roundup: New Broker Misconduct Rules, Regulatory Obligations During Market Volatility, Arbitration Updates, and Beware! Phishing Scams

Recent FINRA activity demonstrates the continuous set of demands on the organization to maintain progress on ongoing initiatives (addressing broker misconduct); keep up with market events (risks associated with social media-driven trading); and continue providing services (arbitration and dispute resolution) during unprecedented conditions (the pandemic). Bates takes a look at FINRA’s new rules and guidance in this article.

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Bates Research  |  03-18-21

Regulatory Concerns Grow as Market for SPACs Heats Up

On March 10, 2021, the SEC published an alert in which the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy cautioned investors to be wary of buying into so-called Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”) on the basis of endorsements by celebrities. That alert came out only three months after the SEC Division of Corporation Finance issued its own disclosure guidance on the investment mechanism. FINRA also recently weighed in on emerging anti-money laundering risks associated with SPACs. These efforts indicate that the regulators are paying close attention to the increasing—some say frenzied—popularity of SPAC investments during the current market volatility. In this article, Bates takes a closer look at the emerging SPAC risks, heightened regulatory concerns, and regulatory guidance.

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Bates Research  |  03-12-21

SEC 2021 Exam Priorities: Climate Change, Reg BI, Disclosures and Information Security Top the List

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations announced its 2021 examination priorities, focusing on climate-related risks, Regulation Best Interest, fiduciary duty for investment advisers, adequacy of disclosures (including for fees and expenses), and attendant risks relating to information security and FinTech, to name a few. In his leadership message, SEC Division of Examinations Director Peter Driscoll described the regulatory and operational challenges of delivering financial services during the pandemic, emergent risks (including on cybersecurity), and the rollout of Reg BI and Form CRS. Bates takes an in-depth look at this, the Division's 2021 priorities, what they could mean for your firm, and how they compare to previous years in our annual chart.

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Bates Research  |  03-04-21

Are Low-Priced Securities a Backdoor to Fraud? FINRA Says Watch Out

On February 15, 2021, FINRA issued an alert warning firms to pay attention to risks associated with low-priced securities activities. The Notice highlights the basic compliance tools that should be reviewed to address current concerns, including a review of red flag indicators of suspicious activity, adequacy of monitoring systems, and systems for consistent and accurate reporting. In light of their concern that bad actors, looking to take advantage of market urgencies like the COVID pandemic, will continue to perpetrate “pump and dump” and other schemes that exploit those attributes, FINRA underscores the risks of low-priced security transactions as a compliance priority.

Read the article to learn about FINRA's concerns and recommendations for your practice.

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Bates Research, Compliance and Regulatory Alerts  |  03-03-21

SEC Division of Examinations Announces 2021 Examination Priorities

The SEC Division of Examinations announced its 2021 examination priorities today, focusing on climate-related risks, conflicts of interest for brokers (Regulation Best Interest) and investment advisers (fiduciary duty), and attendant risks relating to FinTech in its initiatives and examinations. Stay tuned for our annual commentary, coming soon.

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Bates Research  |  02-24-21

In Brief: Regulatory Compliance Roundup

Bates continues to track regulatory developments that have long-term impact. Here, we highlight in brief several ongoing matters that affect regulatory compliance, including:

  • FINRA Small Broker Annual Report Filing Extension
  • DOL Class Exemption
  • Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic
  • FINRA Rule on Registered Member Being Named a Customer Beneficiary
  • New York Investment Adviser Registration
  • NASAA Model Rule on Continuing Education for IARs
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Bates Research  |  02-18-21

Seeking Growth and a Sound Market, NYDFS Unveils New Cyber Insurance Risk Framework; FINRA and NASAA Heighten Cyber Focus

Federal enforcement agencies and financial regulators have been warning of increased cyber risks to public and private databases, financial institution infrastructure and retail investors. As financial institutions embrace new fintech solutions while shifting more permanently to remote online work, the pressure to ramp up cybersecurity efforts continues to grow. New York’s influential Department of Financial Services recently estimated that the market for cyber insurance will be over $20 billion in 2025. In this article, we take a closer look at the NYDFS’ Cyber Insurance Risk Framework and note recent communications on cybersecurity federal and state regulators.

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Bates Research  |  02-11-21

How Will FINRA’s New Report on Examination and Priorities Impact Your Firm in 2021?

In a new publication combining its annual report on observations and exam findings with its report on risk monitoring and program priorities, FINRA is offering a “single authoritative source” for members to turn to for the purposes of adapting their compliance programs and preparing for “emerging issues for the coming year.” In this article we take a look at the highlights from the report and provide our updated annual Bates chart which keeps track of FINRA’s articulated priorities from year-to-year.

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Bates Research, Compliance and Regulatory Alerts  |  02-04-21

New Update from Bates Compliance: Broker-Dealer Branch Office Compliance White Paper

In May 2019, Bates Compliance published a review of the supervision, inspection and operational considerations for broker-dealer branch office compliance. Since then, FINRA has broadened its examination priorities, while the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened compliance risks. This updated white paper discusses the responsibilities placed on the supervisors of broker-dealer branches in light of FINRA's broadened priorities and recently updated guidance on remote supervision.

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Page 3 of 34 pages.

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