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Small Firms Get Special Guidance from Watchdog

By Rita Raagas De Ramos February 6, 2018

Small broker-dealer firms that need help navigating the regulator’s systems and resources now have their own dedicated hotline, the Small Firm Helpline.

Finra CEO Robert Cook says the helpline "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 around 3,400 small firms, which the regulator classifies as those that employ 150 or fewer registered representatives, registered with Finra.

The helpline -- 833-26-FINRA or 833-263-4672 -- will be available to callers during office hours from Monday to Friday.

At Finra’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. in May of last year, Robert Kaplan, director of Finra’s district office in Philadelphia, said small firms should be proactive in fixing compliance issues brought to their attention, find ways to simplify their processes and procedures, and ensure staff training is relevant to the business.

Finra says its initiatives to help small firms include the improvement of the small firms section of its website to give firms quick access to information affecting them, including a small firm cybersecurity checklist and the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT).

Protecting against cyberattacks can be challenging for small firms, which Finra says have relatively "limited resources" to combat such threats. Finra notes that at small firms, one person may be responsible for operations, compliance, legal and cybersecurity.

Finra

Meanwhile, the CAT is a single, comprehensive database expected to store an unprecedented amount of sensitive trade data and personal identifiable information. Small firms are required to submit information on trade events, including customers and prices, to the CAT daily starting November 15, 2019, one year after large firms are required to do so.