New FINRA rule for reporting requirements

FINRA’s Rule 4530, modeled after NASD Rule 3070 and NYSE Rule 351, went into effect on July 1, 2011. The rule requires all member firms to:

  • report to FINRA certain specified events and quarterly statistical and summary information regarding written customer complaints, and
  • file with FINRA documents of certain criminal actions, civil complaints and arbitration claims.

A member firm has 30 calendar days to report to FINRA violations of any securities, insurance, commodities, financial or investment laws, rules, regulations or standards of conduct committed by the firm or its associated persons.  The 30-day period begins when the firm has concluded, or reasonably should have concluded, that a violation has occurred. Below is a summary of the provision.

  • Firms are not required to report every instance of non-compliant conduct, but they must report conduct that has widespread or potential widespread impact to the firm, its customers or the markets, or conduct that arises from a material failure of the firm’s systems, policies or practices involving numerous customers, multiple errors or significant dollar amounts.
  • Violative conduct by an associated person must be reported only when it has widespread or potential widespread impact to the firm, its customers or the markets; conduct that has a significant monetary result on a member firm(s), customer(s) or market(s); or multiple instances of any violative conduct.
  • The “reasonably should have concluded” standard is applied on a good faith basis (by the firm) if a reasonable person would have concluded that a violation has occurred; if a reasonable person would not have concluded that a violation occurred, then the matter is not reportable. Firms must establish who, within the firm, is responsible for making such determinations. Stating that a violation was of a nature that did not merit consideration by the responsible person is not a defense to a failure to report such conduct.
  • The reporting obligation and internal review processes set forth under other rules – eg., FINRA Rule 3130 – are mutually exclusive.
  • While internal review processes may point to a firm’s determination that a specific violation has occurred, they do not by themselves lead to the conclusion that the matter is reportable – e.g., FINRA would not view a discussion in an internal audit report regarding the need for enhanced controls in a particular area, standing alone, as determinative of a reportable violation.  An internal audit finding would serve only as one factor, among others, that a firm should consider in determining whether a reportable violation occurred.
  • Certain disciplinary actions taken by a firm against an associated person must be reported under a separate provision, rather than under the internal conclusion provision.

In addition to the above “internal conclusions” obligations, the new rules for “other reportable events” as per NASD Rule 3070 and NYSE Rule 351, have been modified somewhat in Rule 4530. For example, more customer disputes may have to be reported, as the new rule will now include attorney’s fees and interest penalties in customer settlements or awards with damages against a broker of $15,000 or more and against a firm of $25,000 or more, thus lowering the calculations threshold for reporting requirements.