Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 ADV Amendments

The SEC released an email today reminding Advisors that they must file an annual amendment for all applications with the SEC to validate your registration status.

AdvisorAssist will be assisting all registration and compliance clients with this process starting in the first week of January 2012.

This will be included as part of the annual renewal process for established advisors. For new firms, this will be addressed as part of the approval process. For more information on the SEC to State Transition, please see our prior blog post (SEC to State Transitions) on the requirements and Key dates.


Below is the text of the SEC Email:
SEC-Registered Adviser Form ADV Filing Requirements: January 1 - March 30, 2012
SEC-Registered Investment Advisers: Between January 1, 2012 and March 30, 2012, ALL SEC-registered advisers, and advisers who have an application for registration pending with the SEC, must file a Form ADV amendment (annual updating amendment or other-than-annual amendment), completing ALL items on the revised form (including corresponding sections of Schedules A, B, C and D) and indicating with which regulator they should be registered (in Item 2). Please note that ALL SEC-registered advisers must file a Form ADV amendment without regard to when their fiscal year ends (example: advisers with a June fiscal year end must file an other-than-annual amendment between January 1 and March 30, 2012). An adviser should also amend its brochure if any information has become materially inaccurate. Advisers seeking to file other-than-annual amendments to update only limited sections of Form ADV (for example: only the Part 2 brochure or their address in Item 1) must complete ALL questions, including new and revised questions, on Part 1 of the Form ADV. Advisers that must switch from SEC to state registration should mark Item 2.A.(13) and should begin registering with the state(s) to ensure they can withdraw their SEC registration by June 28, 2012. Please see the General Instructions to Form ADV http://www.sec.gov/about/forms/formadv-instructions.pdf and the SEC's recently adopted rules for more information (IA-3221 and IA-3222, June 22, 2011, on http://www.sec.gov/rules/final.shtml). You cannot reply to this email. If you have questions, please email IARDLIVE@SEC.GOV.
http://www.sec.gov/about/forms/formadv-instructions.pdf

Friday, December 9, 2011

Final Reminder - 2012 Renewal Fees Due 12/12/11!

This is a final reminder that full payment of your Preliminary Renewal Statement must post to your firm's IARD Renewal Account by December 12, 2011.

An investment adviser (IA) firm that does not pay its Preliminary Renewal Statement in full will have all of its representatives' (RAs) registrations with jurisdictions terminated effective December 31, 2011. Additionally, firms that fail to renew may be subject to fines levied by jurisdictions as well as re-registration requirements.

If you are an Ongoing Compliance Client of AdvisorAssist, you received an email from us with instructions. Otherwise, 
you can retrieve and print your statement by logging onto IARD and selecting the Renewal Statement link under the Accounting section of the site map. If you have not logged onto IARD in the last 120 days, your password has expired and you will need to select the Forgot Password? link on the left side of the login screen to have a new password emailed to you.


Detailed 
renewal payment options and instructions are available on the IARD websitePlease note: If you recently submitted your payment, check your firm's Renewal Account to ensure that the payment was received and processed.

For complete information, visit the 
2012 IARD Renewal Program Web page.



If you need assistance, please contact AdvisorAssist Support at Support@AdvisorAssist.com.

FINAL REMINDER: FINRA Entitlement User Accounts Certification Due 12/9/11

The 2011 FINRA Entitlement User Accounts Certification Period ended on 12/9/11. If your RIA did not certify its FINRA Entitlement User Accounts, the capability to utilize the IARD and CRD has been disabled for all Administrators and will remain disabled until your organization completes the certification process. 


To have full entitlement functionality restored, please complete the user account certification process by clicking here.


If you are an Ongoing Compliance Advantage client of AdvisorAssist, please contact us for support.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Annual FINRA Entitlement User Accounts Certification

Attention Advisors!
You should have received an email today from FINRA for the 
Annual FINRA Entitlement User Accounts Certification

The purpose of this email is to ensure that each firm has accurate information for the IARD and CRD systems. The process is quick and simple (if you have your account access handy!)

The SAA ("Super Account Administrator") for your firm must log into your FINRA account at 
https://accountmgmt.finra.org/ewsadmin2/usr_search.do?aType=Certify.

Once you login, you will see this screen below. Click the link
Click here to begin User Accounts Certification Process.
Then follow the prompts. If your user information is correct, scroll to the certification (example below) and complete the form.

If you have trouble logging into your account or need to make changes to Administrators, give us a call at 617-800-0388 or email Support@AdvisorAssist.com.

Please email us at Support@AdvisorAssist.com when you have completed this to help us ensure this does not slip through. You will receive a confirmation email that you can forward to us. THANKS!

Please note:  If user accounts are not certified within the 30-day certification period (Deadline: 12/9/11), the capability to your IARD/CRD account will be disabled. 


Here's the text of the FINRA Communication
--------------------------------------------------------------
Start Date: 11/09/2011
Due Date: 12/09/2011

One of the responsibilities of FINRA Super Account Administrators (SAA) is to ensure that users in their organization who require access to applications in the FINRA Entitlement Program to perform their job responsibilities are properly entitled to these applications and the sensitive data that these applications may contain. While FINRA encourages administrators to review user accounts periodically throughout the year, FINRA is launching an annual user accounts certification program to enhance this review process. The purpose of this email is to notify you that today begins FINRA's 2011 Entitlement User Accounts Certification Period. 

During this 30-day certification period, you will need to review your organization's user accounts to determine that:
  • each user has a continuing need to access FINRA application(s) on the organization's behalf;
  • each user is entitled only to the applications and privileges needed to perform current job responsibilities; and
  • only users who require access to sensitive data (e.g., Criminal History Record Information, social security or tax identification numbers, dates of birth) are entitled to access this type of data

For your convenience, you can download your user account information into a report to send to other individuals within your organization to confirm individual's appropriate entitlement, including access to applications, privileges, and sensitive data. FINRA recommends that you certify your users on the same day you request the download to prevent having to perform a subsequent review of your users as the entitlement data may have changed since the download was requested.

If user accounts are not certified within the 30-day certification period, the capability to create, edit and clone accounts within an organization will be disabled for all Administrators and will remain disabled until an organization completes the certification process. 

To begin the certification process, please click here

Additional entitlement information can be found on the FINRA Entitlement Program page.

If you have any questions concerning the certification process, please contact the Gateway Call Center at:
(301) 869-6699 (Broker/Dealers)
(240) 386-4848 (Investment Advisers) 

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

IARD System Changes


Effective on 11/7/11, FINRA released enhancements to the 

Investment Adviser Registration Depository ("IARD") system to prepare for SEC to State

transitions for mid-sized Advisors. For Advisors participating in AdvisorAssist's Annual Compliance services, you will be receiving an annual renewal questionnaire that will address these items.


Here's the copy of the SEC Email Distribution:

SEC-Registered Investment Advisers: The revised Form ADV is now programmed into IARD. Between January 1, 2012 and March 30, 2012, all SEC-registered advisers are required to file a Form ADV amendment (annual amendment or other-than-annual amendment), completing all items on the revised form and indicating with which regulator they should be registered. A registered adviser that files an other-than-annual amendment to its Form ADV prior to January 1, 2012 will not be required to complete all of the new items on the revised form (see General Instructions, Instruction 4 for when certain items are required to be updatedhttp://www.sec.gov/about/forms/formadv-instructions.pdf). Please see SEC adopted rules for more information (IA-3221 and IA-3222, June 22, 2011, on http://www.sec.gov/rules/final.shtml). You cannot reply to this email. If you have questions, please email IARDLIVE@SEC.GOV.



THIS COMMUNICATION IS INTENDED ONLY FOR THE USE OF THE INDIVIDUAL OR ENTITY TO WHICH IT IS ADDRESSED AND CONTAINS OR MAY CONTAIN INFORMATION THAT IS PRIVILEGED, CONFIDENTIAL OR EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSURE UNDER APPLICABLE LAW. If the reader of this communication is not the intended recipient (or the employee or agent responsible for delivering to the intended recipient), you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please disregard and delete this communication, and do not disseminate or retain any copy of this communication.


Open questions on SEC to State Transition?
If you still have open questions regarding your options, timing, securities rules or other aspects of transition to state registration, please schedule a call with us. Please send an email to Support@AdvisorAssist.com

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Annual Chief Compliance Officer Report

Reminder: Annual CCO Report


As a reminder, Rule 206(4)-7 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related state regulations require that Advisors implement (and maintain) a compliance program that is designed to prevent, detect and correct any violations of the securities laws. 


Also, the Chief Compliance Officer ("CCO") of the Advisor must review the compliance program at least annually to demonstrate compliance with this rule. The regulators expect to see documentation of this effort through testing and an annual assessment. There is no require to deliver any report or output to the regulators, but AdvisorAssist suggests a report to file or memo from the CCO to the CEO or Management. This is still a good practice even in a one person firm.


What should be contained in the report?
The annual CCO report should at least address these four (4) main areas:

  1. What changes have been made to the compliance program since the last annual review (or since inception for a new Advisor)? For instance, did you modify your compliance manual, update the Code of Ethics, change technology? 
  2. Have there been any compliance violations or issues encountered? Examples might include trading errors, failure to make disclosures, missed deadlines, not following your policies and procedures, forgetting to deliver an ADV...(Don't be afraid to document an error. The intent of the rule continuous improvement. It is best to acknowledge an issue, contain it, take corrective action and prevent re-occurrence. 
  3. Any changes to staffing or support? Make note of your relationship with AdvisorAssist and other partners that support your business.
  4. Any changed planned from your review or testing? Do you have any planned changes for the next year? New systems, more training, more staff, outsourcing, a new document management system? Of course only list the items that you intend to commit to.
What format should the report take?

The annual CCO report does not require a specific layout. What is most effective for you to make the exercise worthwhile and actionable? It can paragraph form, bullets, or links to other places where actions are taken. It can be all or any of these items. 


If you have any questions or would like a template, please email us at support@advisorassist.com. There are also some tools to help you in the Compliance Advantage Resource Portal at http://advantage.advisorassist.com.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall 2011 Risk Assessments

Greetings from AdvisorAssist!

Annually the Chief Compliance Officer of your RIA is required to test and update your compliance program to ensure it remains effective in preventing and detecting violations of the securities laws. To assist you with this process, we encourage you to complete the risk assessment questionnaires that we provide.

The questionnaires are organized by topic area to allow you to align them with business practices and policies for your firm. These questionnaires are accessible under the Compliance Testing section of your Advisor Portal. You can also access these directly at: http://advantage.advisorassist.com.

We encourage you to begin with any topic areas that are of concern to you. Completing the questionnaires should help you evaluate your current process and highlight any deficiencies, risks or questions in your processes or recordkeeping. You can download the questionnaires, complete them and save them along with your compliance files. Some of the policy areas and the questions contained in the questionnaires may be non-applicable to your business. This is okay, you can simply note that it does not apply. If you have questions as to whether something applies to your business, please schedule a time with us to review.

Wondering where to start?
We suggest starting with your Client Agreements, Business Continuity Plan, Personal Securities Trading, and Regulatory Filings - Form ADV. Regulators focus considerable time reviewing your Form ADV and Client Agreements for consistency and accuracy. Another key area is how you maintain books and records, including email, files and support for advertising and trading. These rank as the most common deficiencies in regulatory exams.

If you have any questions relating to these other aspects of your compliance program, please email us at support@advisorassist.com or give us a call at 617-800-0388.

Thank you,

AdvisorAssist Team

Friday, October 7, 2011

California Urges Mid-Size Advisors to Start Transition to State


With over 900 registrations expected and limited staff, the California Department of Corporations (Securities Division) is urging advisors to start transition as soon as possible. 


On October 7, 2011, California issued instructions and a cover letter with timelines (and a subtle plea to get rolling!) on their website

If you are SEC registered and do not anticipate having ~$100 million at the start of 2012, please contact us to discuss your situation.


Dodd Frank Act (SEC to State Transition)
On July 21, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank") into law. Under Dodd-Frank, federally registered investment advisers who manage assets under $100 million will need to transition their registration from SEC to the state(s). The deadline to transition was extended from July 2011 to 2012 as the regulators did not have all the pieces in place to accommodate the change. Greg Brown, Partner at AdvisorAssist, has detailed the new deadlines and procedures -- See SEC to State Transitions.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Risk Assessment Time

Greetings from AdvisorAssist!

Fall is upon us and we wanted to remind you that it is time to start your annual assessment of your compliance program. 


You are required to test and update your compliance program at least annually and as your business grows and changes.  It is important to identify risks and weaknesses in your compliance program and update with new controls where applicable.  If you have not performed this review yet for 2011 - it is time to start. 


AdvisorAssist has developed topic-based risk questionnaires that are accessible from your Advisor Portal. You can access these documents at: http://advantage.advisorassist.com.  




The Compliance Rules
Under Rule 206(4)-7 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and comparable state laws that follow, an advisor's Chief Compliance Officer ("CCO") is required to assess the effectiveness of the advisor's compliance program, at least annually, to ensure the program is adequately designed to prevent, detect and correct violations of securities laws. 




How to Get Started 
We encourage you to begin with any areas that are of concern to you.  Filling out the questionnaires should help you evaluate your current process and highlight any deficiencies in your business processes as well as your books and records.  


Download the applicable questionnaires, fill them out and save them accordingly.  If you have questions about the process or need someone to review your work please reach out to us at support@advisorassist.com



If you are not sure where to start... 
We suggest Agreements, Business Continuity Plan, Personal Securities Trading, and Regulatory Filings - Form ADV.  Regulators focus time reviewing your Form ADV and agreements for consistency and accuracy.  With a heavy reliance on technology it's important to think your business continuity needs and it's to understand your obligations under the personal securities trading rules.  As we get questions on various areas we will be sending out emails with general tips and answers to frequently asked questions.  

In the meantime you can contact us with questions regarding this process and the questionnaires at support@advisorassist.com.  

Thanks,

AdvisorAssist Team

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rules of the Road: Using Social Media in a Financial Practice

AdvisorAssist's Founder, Chris Winn was invited to speak to the FPA of Middle Tennessee on Social Media Compliance.


View the presentation at http://www.advisorassist.com/news/presentations/SocialMediaPresentation_FPA.pdf

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Deadline: 2010 Annual Renewals Due 3/31/11

Deadline: 2010 Annual Renewals Due 3/31/11


March 31, 2011 is the deadline for the annual renewal of Form ADV Part 1. This year you must also convert ADV2 to "plain-English" format by this date.


There are a few states that has exceptions:


Colorado (6/30/11)
Kentucky (7/1/11)
Pennsylvania (9/30/11)
Texas (3/31/12)


If you have not completed your Annual Amendment and ADV2 Conversion, please contact us at support@advisorassist.com.