It can be challenging to stay on top of regulatory developments, not only for compliance staff’s own purposes, but in training employees and maintaining a culture of compliance within a firm. In this first of two articles we will provide practical tips for CCOs to stay informed; our second article will help them create continuing education opportunities for employees in their firms.
- Regulators’ websites are the most obvious source for certain kinds of information: laws, rules, formal guidance and forms, just to name a few. However, sometimes it takes some digging to locate the wealth of other, extremely informative tools on these sites. These include:
- SEC Division of Investment Management Topical Reference Guide In particular, the FAQs are quite helpful on Form 13F, IARD/Form ADV and Form PF. There are a number of other resources here as well, all listed alphabetically by topic, with links. The Fast Answers page (which has a search function) briefly answers common questions, usually of a definitional nature;
- The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations distributes risk alerts on various topics which often include practical tips for compliance programs. Notable ones include Rule 105 of Regulation M (see also our primer on this); the Custody Rule, and due diligence for selecting alternative investments.
- The NFA’s General Compliance Issues page provides an overview of compliance obligations with links to important resources such as its Self-Examination Questionnaire, among other things. From the Compliance page, firms can also access compliance information specific to their registration category, e.g., here are direct links to information for CPOs and CTAs). The BASIC search page is another key resource, not just for the public but for firms conducting their Bylaw 1101 diligence;
- FINRA offers two tools of use to investment advisers and other firms. BrokerCheck is a repository of information regarding registered broker-dealer firms and registered representatives. Among other things, it includes disciplinary history, making it a good place to start in researching potential hires, business partners, or others (that have been previously registered with FINRA). FINRA’s OFAC Search Tool allows users to search up to 500 names at once for their appearance on the OFAC Sanctions Program Listings;
- Similar to BrokerCheck, the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website allows searches of individuals that have been registered as Investment Adviser Representatives. This includes disciplinary history, if any;
- State information can be especially time consuming to track down. A good starting point is the North American Securities Administrators Association website, which includes direct links to each state agency. The Industry Resources page includes links to specific information for broker-dealers, investment advisers and others.
- Beyond laws and rules, it can be useful to know what other CCOs, legal professionals or other service providers and industry participants have to say about a particular issue. Opportunities may vary depending on location, but might include:
- Occasionally conferences in major cities will cover compliance-related topics and a few are dedicated exclusively to compliance matters. If a live conference is not an option, webinars on compliance matters (often free) are increasingly available; the Regulatory Compliance Association is one such provider;
- Local industry groups may have smaller panel events, which even if these are not on a compliance topic, will enable compliance professionals to learn more about issues of note for their colleagues and firms generally;
- Local or online (searching Groups on LinkedIn is a good place to start tracking some of these down) groups dedicated to compliance and regulatory issues for financial firms;
- Service providers such as law and accounting/audit firms, especially, produce useful articles and other materials on new regulations that can assist CCOs in drafting and implementing policies in response. An easy way to access all of these in one place is to follow the firms on social media since they usually share their articles. Nearly all of them also distribute newsletters, white papers and other updates to subscribers by email (subscribe to their mailing list on their websites).
Feel free to share other continuing education tips and resources in the comments!