Articles Tagged with NASAA

Earlier this year the Maryland General Assembly amended parts of the Maryland Securities Act and added some new sections to it.  The amendments went into effect on October 1, 2017.  Changes to the Maryland Securities Act include the creation of the Securities Act Registration Fund, adoption of the North American Securities Administrators Association’s Senior Model Act to address financial exploitation of seniors, and changes in fees for certain filing categories.

The amendments added a new section, Section 11-208, which establishes a Securities Act Registration Fund.  The Fund’s purpose is “to help fund the direct and indirect costs of administering and enforcing the Maryland Securities Act.”  The Fund will comprise registration fees, money that the State sets aside for the Fund in its budget, and any money accepted from any other source for the Fund’s benefit.  The Fund cannot be used for any purpose other than administering and enforcing the Maryland Securities Act. Continue reading

In October 2015, the Financial Services Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) requested comments on a proposal (“Proposal”) to amend its Customer Account Information Rule (“Rule 4512”) and to adopt a new Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults Rule (“Proposed Rule 2165”).  Based on a study published in 2011 and a survey published in 2013, FINRA determined that financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults is a serious and growing problem that must be addressed.  As of now, a small number of states have already enacted legislation that is designed to help detect and prevent financial exploitation of seniors.  As discussed previously,  the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently adopted a model act that is intended to provide states with guidance for drafting legislation or regulations to protect seniors and other vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

FINRA, however, believes there needs to be a uniform, national standard regarding a financial institution’s obligations in helping to prevent financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults.  Thus, FINRA first published its Proposal in October 2015 and requested comments on it.  After receiving 40 comment letters from both individuals and institutions, FINRA filed the Proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2016.  The SEC began a comment period on November 7, 2016, and it will end on November 28, 2016.

The proposed amendments to Rule 4512 and Proposed Rule 2165 pertain to the accounts of “Specified Adults.”  A “Specified Adult” is defined as “a natural person age 65 or older or a natural person age 18 or older who the member reasonably believes has a mental or physical impairment that renders the individual unable to protect his or her own interests.”  Thus, the Proposal applies to accounts held by seniors and other vulnerable adults.

Earlier this year, the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) adopted a proposed model legislation or regulation (“Model Act”) aimed at protecting vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.  A 2010 survey by the Investor Protection Trust Elder Fund Society found that one out of every five United States citizens age sixty-five and over has been a victim of financial fraud.  As a result, the protection of vulnerable adults, such as senior investors, from financial exploitation has been one of NASAA’s priorities.

The Model Act is entitled “NASAA Model Legislation or Regulation to Protect Vulnerable Adults From Financial Exploitation.”  It is designed to protect “eligible adults.”  An “eligible adult” is defined as a person age sixty-five years or older, or a person subject to a state’s Adult Protective Services statute, such as disabled or impaired persons. Continue reading

On April 13, 2015, the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) adopted a model rule concerning business continuity and succession planning for investment advisers. The model rule is intended as guidance for state-registered investment advisers to determine how to develop succession planning policies and procedures. Investment advisers without business continuity and succession plans face serious risks if the adviser is temporarily or permanently unable to service its clients. Included with the model rule are scenarios to help illustrate when business continuity plans are important for an investment advisory firm and many questions to help determine how to craft the plan properly.

Many different types of disasters can strike an investment advisers’ business. From naturally occurring disasters such as hurricanes and snow storms to unnatural disasters like terrorist attacks or a sudden death, it is important to have thought about and created a succession plan to ensure that your clients’ interests are not harmed. A business continuity and succession plan allows the adviser to safeguard critical business functions so that your firm can continue as long as needed when a disaster strikes.
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Parker MacIntyre attorneys Steve Parker and Bryan Gort attended the 2015 annual conference of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) held last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As usual, the conference provided valuable guidance and updated information on areas of importance to state-registered investment advisers, as well as federal notice filed broker-dealers and SEC registered investment advisers.

Of interest to state-registered investment advisers are proposed amendments to Part 1B of Form ADV that would attempt to capture an RIA’s use of social media and information on the use of third-party compliance professionals.

NASAA also presented the findings of its 2015 coordinated investment adviser examination review, compiled from the results of over 1100 investment adviser examinations. Once again, books and records deficiencies was the leading category, with 78% of all examined entities having deficiencies in that area. Within that category the failure to maintain adequate client suitability data was the leading deficiency, accounting for 10% of the deficiencies noted within the books and record category.
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In an effort to inform investors about common fraudulent activities involving individual retirement accounts (“IRAs”), the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) has issued an Advisory on third-party custodians of self-directed IRAs and other qualified plans. The advisory was issued to describe the roles and responsibilities a third-party custodian of a self-directed IRA has and to hopefully dispel some of the common misconceptions investors have about third-party custodians. In particular, NASAA warns investors that IRA custodians’ duties are limited to report information to the IRS, and such custodians do not provide any assurance that the IRA owner’s investments are protected against loss.

When creating an IRA, an investor must find an IRS-approved custodian for the account. Custodians are typically banks or brokerage firms. Once the account is opened, investors can deposit funds into the account and invest in opportunities available through the custodian. With a self-directed IRA, the investor has full control over what the funds in the account are invested in, unlike mutual funds or other types of savings accounts.
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The Broker-Dealer section of the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently sent out a notice of request for comment on a proposed uniform state model rule (“Model Rule”) that would exempt merger and acquisition brokers (“M&A Brokers”) from state securities registration if certain requirements were met. While NASAA’s proposed Model Rule is similar to the recent SEC No-Action letter concerning M&A Brokers and the exemption for M&A Brokers provided by HR 37, there are some notable differences. Comments on the Model Rule must be submitted to NASAA by February 16, 2015.

First, this post will lay out the three current proposals by SEC staff, Congress, and NASAA to create an M&A Broker registration exemption. Second, a comparison between all three will be made in order to highlight how each body plans to regulate and define the scope of the exemption for M&A Brokers. Each comparison will be broken up into key aspects of each proposal’s efforts to create an exemption for M&A Brokers. Third, this post will emphasize the need to create an exemption, along with M&A Brokers, that will encompass other important unregistered actors: Private Placement Brokers.
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On December 15, 2014, the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) launched an online electronic filing system to be used for issuers filling Form D, Rule 506 offerings with state securities regulators. The purposes of this new electronic filing depository (“EFD”) website, according to NASAA president William Beatty, are to provide an efficient and streamlined process for regulatory filings and to allow for increased transparency for investors.

Issuers seeking an exemption under Rule 506 must meet certain requirements in order to avoid having to register their public or private offerings with the SEC or state regulators. However, those issuers must still file a notice of exempt offering of securities, or “Form D,” with the SEC and state securities regulators. Instead of the longer and more tedious process of registering with securities regulators, Form D requires only limited information about the issuer, the investors, and the securities offered.
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As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan investigative agency of Congress, conducted a study which criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The purpose of the study was to determine how the SEC has conducted its oversight of FINRA, including the effectiveness of FINRA rules, and how the SEC plans to enhance its oversight.

The GAO found that both the SEC and FINRA do not conduct retrospective reviews of the impact of FINRA’s rules. As a result, the GAO believes that “FINRA may be missing an opportunity to systematically assess whether its rules are achieving their intended purpose and take appropriate action, such as maintaining rules that are effective and modifying or repealing rules that are ineffective or burdensome.” The GAO also noted that the SEC does not conduct sufficient oversight over FINRA’s governance and executive compensation. The SEC has responded to the survey by saying that it is focused primarily on oversight of FINRA’s regulatory departments, which the SEC claims has the biggest impact on investors.
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Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) spoke at the recent NASAA/SEC Rule 19(d) Conference in Washington D.C. He addressed the importance of cooperation and collaboration between federal and state securities regulatory agencies in order to improve investor protection. Commissioner Aguilar also expressed a desire to have a continuing collaborative relationship between the SEC and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). “I continue to be interested in exploring more opportunities and avenues for the SEC and NASAA to partner and leverage our collective resources to protect investors,” Commissioner Aguilar said, “At a time when regulators are under greater constraints than ever, it makes sense for us to come closer together to further our common goals.”

Commissioner Aguilar discussed four areas in which the SEC and NASAA have worked together to improve investor protection. These areas include the transition of advisers to state regulation, crowdfunding, financial exploitation of the elderly and the creation of the Investor Advisory Committee.
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