Joshua is co-editor and a frequent contributor to Securities Compliance Sentinel, a blog that provides analysis of cutting-edge securities industry issues.

Scroll down to see Joshua's most recent posts.

Recent Blog Posts

  • A Data Breach! You Better Check The Law Of The States In Which You Have Customers Consistent with the ongoing guidance/requirements from the SEC and FINRA, all firms must have and enforce data security policies and procedures.  Even the best policies and procedures may, however, not protect the firm in every instance.  So what do you do if there is a breach? One of the most important things to determine is what law governs.  In other words, if you have clients in all 50 states, it is possible that there are 50 different data breach laws that... More
  • When just saying “no” is a good thing In the hectic world of financial services, registered representatives and investment adviser representatives are always looking to increase their assets under management. At what cost? Are there situations where you would be better off just saying no to accepting that one additional client? In my many years of defending representatives and advisers from customer complaints, the unqualified answer is yes; there are situations when you are better off just saying no. Any good risk avoidance program will provide for the proper... More
  • Do you really want to hire that broker with a checkered past That is the question that the SEC has essentially posed for registered investment advisers in a National Exam Program Risk Alert. In doing so, the SEC has stated that it will be “examining compliance oversight and controls of registered investment advisers that have employed or employ individuals with a history of disciplinary events . . . .” The SEC will essentially be examining the investment advisers business and compliance practices, particularly focused on higher risk individuals. Does this mean that you... More
  • Is this the first shot in the SEC’s war against social media?   The SEC has repeatedly included issues around social media in its annual exam priorities for investment advisers. With the SEC’s recent release of a final rule on the subject, the SEC has taken that “exam priority” to the next level. Under this new rule, investment advisers will have to complete an additional component to their annual Form ADV filed with the SEC. In doing so, investment advisers will have to disclose their addresses for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. So what’s the... More
  • Who wants to chair a FINRA arbitration Every time that I start a FINRA arbitration, I find myself having the same internal debate; did we pick the right person to serve as the arbitration chair. Unfortunately, you will not know the answer to that question until after your arbitration begins, or, more likely, after the award is issued. FINRA has proposed a rule change to open up the filed for chair arbitrators. Under the proposed rule, attorneys can serve as public arbitrator chair with less experience than they... More
  • Don’t argue; the client is always right even when they are not Over the years that I have defended broker-dealers and investment advisors on customer-initiated claims, I have seen many things that would make any compliance officer cringe. One spine tingling (not in the good way) type of conduct is when an advisor engages his/her client when the client makes an informal complaint, instead of routing the complaint to compliance/supervision. So why is engagement against the rules of engagement? The most important reason is that engagement (aka arguing) may only make a simple... More
  • Why treating customer complaint with therapeutic neglect always fails When faced with a customer complaining through a letter or email, it is human nature to try to appease the customer with a conciliatory response or no response at all. I have seen this “human nature” all too often when defending brokers and advisor from customer complaints. In almost all instances, the complaining customer now claims that the conciliatory comment or non-response is the functional equivalent of an admission by the broker/advisor that he/she did something wrong. In turn, the broker... More
  • The SEC Now Has A Lead Cybersecurity Senior Adviser: Now What? The SEC recently created a new position associated with cybersecurity; senior adviser to the chair for cybersecurity (Christopher R. Hetner). Mr. Hetner has an extensive background in information technology and, in particular, cybersecurity. According to the SEC, Mr. Hetner will be responsible for (i) coordinating cybersecurity efforts across the SEC; (ii) engaging with external stakeholders; and (iii) enhancing SEC mechanisms for assessing broad-based market risk. This appointment could have a wide-ranging on the industry. As we know, the SEC has made cybersecurity... More
  • Elder Abuse Takes Another Twist and Turn If you thought the SEC and FINRA were serious about elder issues, welcome to the Alabama, Indiana and Vermont. Each has focused on elder abuse issues. These states will have mandatory reporting to state officials in instances involving the disabled or those over 65 years of age. They will also allow advisors to cease disbursing funds from clients and providing advisors with immunity associated with doing so. So what does this all mean? For one, states are starting to run on the... More
  • So What’s Your Firm’s Culture? If you cannot answer this question, you may have an issue when you have your next FINRA exam. After all, firm culture is a FINRA exam priority. Does your firm have a culture of compliance? This question only leads to another; what is a culture of compliance. For one, this is something that has to resonate from the top down. If senior management ascribes to uphold firm compliance, that should promote the “culture of compliance.” For example, does senior leadership enforce the... More