Having issued a new suitability rule and explicated it for the industry, on September 25, 2013, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) took the next step and issued Regulatory Notice 13-31 (“Notice”), providing practical advice to member firms about how it will be examining for compliance with the rule, some findings about failures to comply and a set of best practices for compliance. The good news is that FINRA’s examinations have found that firms for the most part have adopted policies, procedures and systems to address the requirements of the suitability rule. Moreover, firms have been very responsive to FINRA’s feedback resulting from exams by addressing deficiencies.
The Notice and the practices highlighted therein are envisioned by FINRA to be “positive steps in building a strong compliance environment.” FINRA encourages firms to carefully consider the practices discussed in the Notice in the near term to determine whether additional efforts are required to improve the suitability determination and supervision process, rather than wait for a regulatory examination that finds their practices to be wanting. To help firms adjust to the new rule, we will summarize FINRA’s findings and best practices.
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