Regulatory Compliance E-newsletter – March 2017

Feature of the Month

Continuing Education Needs Analysis Critical to Firm Element Program

March is a great time to kick off your Firm Element planning with the continuing education needs analysis.  All FINRA registered broker/dealers are required to maintain an education program for their registered representatives.  Key to the program is the written training plan which is developed annually by conducting a continuing needs analysis for evaluation and prioritization of training requirements.

FIRE has made its 2017 continuing education needs analysis template available for download at no charge to help facilitate your needs analysis.

By following the step by step template, you will be able to identify your firm’s training needs and create a robust training plan for 2017.  To download, please click here.


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User Experience and User Interface Improvements Coming for NRS’ cMAX Ad Review Product

On March 25th, NRS will release an updated user interface and more intuitive, modern user experience to the cMAX Ad Review Module.  The release will also include new functionality, such as drag-and-drop file upload, instant field validation and a size-responsive design of the online form.

If you would like to preview the new user experience, user interface and new functionality, even if you are not a current cMAX Ad Review customer, please email the NRS Product Department at

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Advisers Act Education Delivered in Convenient U.S. Cities

When was the last time you looked at the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 or one of its related Rule amendments? SEC examination deficiencies and enforcement actions reveal it’s been less frequently than needed for some firms.

The NRS Investment Adviser Compliance Symposium gives compliance professionals an opportunity to dig into the Advisers Act and support the firm’s compliance program with updated knowledge and tools to minimize risk.

As Steve Jobs (Apple) shared, “There is always one more thing to learn.”

Attend in-person sessions on topics of current interest to exchange ideas with seasoned instructors and peers in an all-day forum for one or more days. Participate in lecture and discussion-based learning in an interactive classroom.

Given the current and future changes in the regulatory environment, each NRS Investment Adviser Symposium holds added significance. Through a deep dive into the Advisers Act and related Rules, compliance professionals get:

  • The facts – information and implications of new and existing regulations and regulatory examinations;
  • An exchange of ideas on how to maintain a robust compliance program to help keep the firm compliant;
  • Soft skills to help support implementation of an ethical compliance culture;
  • An electronic library of material;
  • A network of compliance professionals; and more

Whether you are eager to complete a portion of the education requirement of the NRS Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional® (IACCP®) or Core Compliance programs, want to sharpen your understanding of individual compliance topics, or want to earn continuing education credits, these in-person NRS Education events identify key industry requirements and best practices that effectively support compliance programs in the toughest regulatory environment.

NRS Education events are designed to meet criteria for continuing education credits for attorneys, CPA/accountants, certified financial planners, compliance professionals, and other financial securities professionals. Earn CLE, CPE, CFP® and IACCP® credits while updating and strengthening your firm’s compliance program.


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Department of Labor (DOL) Proposes a Delay of the New Fiduciary Rule

What just happened?

On March 1, 2017 the Department of Labor (DOL) released a copy of a proposed rule that would extend the applicability date of the new fiduciary rule from April 10 to June 9.  The DOL also proposed a 15 day comment period for the proposed delay, which will run from March 2 through March 17. 

In the same release, the DOL has requested a 45 day comment period for comments regarding the sweeping review of the fiduciary rule described in President Trump’s Memorandum to the Secretary of Labor of February 3.  The period for these comments will run from March 2 through April 16.

What happens next?

Securities and insurance firms, along with industry and consumer groups, will begin preparing their comments for consideration by the DOL.  While some commenters may object to the delay of the April 10 applicability date, experts that NRS has spoken with believe that most commenters will concentrate on the more sweeping comments due April 16.  Therefore, while no one can predict with certainty whether the proposed 60-day delay of the applicability date will be granted, it appears more likely than it did just yesterday.

Beyond the delay of the applicability date, the DOL has asked for a wide range of comments on the fiduciary rule itself.  Following its review of these comments, the DOL “may decide to allow the final rule and [Prohibited Transaction Exemptions (PTEs)] to become applicable, issue a further extension of the applicability date, propose to withdraw the rule, or propose amendments to the rule and/or the PTEs.”

In related news, on February 24 the plaintiffs whose challenge to the fiduciary rule was denied in a suit in a US District Court in Texas last month filed for an appeal.  It may be that (a) the plaintiffs and the Department of Justice (DOJ) both plan to request a delay in the Applicability Date pending the appeal, and/or (b) that the DOJ may stop defending the fiduciary rule.  If granted, that may provide a backstop for the DOL-proposed delay and review of the fiduciary rule.

What should firms do?

Until it is certain that a delay will be issued following the end of the comment period on March 17, NRS strongly recommends that firms continue to develop plans for meeting the April 10 applicability date.  Even if the applicability date is delayed, it is entirely possible that a modified version of the fiduciary rule will go into effect.  Moreover, some of the requirements of the fiduciary rule are likely to be seen as best practices by FINRA and the SEC, and may find their way into the securities laws.

That said, firms should probably avoid distributing fiduciary acknowledgements or implementing other changes required by the fiduciary rule before the DOL announces whether it will implement the 60-day delay.  Nevertheless, firms should be prepared to rapidly implement their plans for meeting the requirements of the fiduciary rule if the applicability date is not delayed.

If you would like to make sure your firm is up for existing and yet to come challenges, please contact us today.

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