High Profile Exam Priority for FINRA and the SEC | Cybersecurity

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 by Mitch Avnet

cybersecurity riskEarlier this month, FINRA and the SEC issued their exam priorities for 2015. Both agencies continue to pinpoint cybersecurity as a top priority for 2015. Although these priority letters serve as a “roadmap” highlighting areas of regulatory focus during the coming year, most firms continue to struggle in terms of how they should conduct their internal Cybersecurity Risk Assessments and evidence their diligence and vigilance with respect to this high profile industry risk.

In the wake of the many highly publicized data-breaches in 2014, our clients have reached out to us for advice and guidance in an effort to increase the overall awareness of Cybersecurity risk within their respective organizations. Many of these clients are seeking comprehensive training and a robust framework and methodology to conduct Cybersecurity Risk Assessments on a targeted and/or enterprise basis.
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Intellectual Property Rights for Entrepreneurs

Posted on January 20th, 2015 by Kristy Wright Skeehan

Q: What precautions do startups need to take to protect their intellectual property?

intellectual-propertyAs an entrepreneur, you may be unclear on how and when to file to protect your ideas and designs. This information is intended to help you get started.

Q: What is considered intellectual property and how is it protected?

Intangible assets created by your company may fall under the category of intellectual property. There are three legal means to protect this property: trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

Trademarks distinguish your business from others and can include logos, slogans, taglines, and packaging. They are usually specific only to your field or business industry.

Copyrights cover creative literary and artistic work such as written papers, research, photographs, and music. You can also copyright technical drawings and database contents.

Patents are for inventions, such as new product designs. This includes not only physical devices, but also processes, such as business systems.
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FINRA 2015 Priorities For Broker-Dealers

Posted on January 9th, 2015 by Elin Cherry

Now that You’ve Seen FINRA’s Exam Priorities – How About Some Practical Guidance?

Download FINRA 2015On January 6, 2015 FINRA published its 10th annual Regulatory and Examinations Letter.

Although 17 pages and dense, when broken down it is a roadmap for broker-dealers as to actions they can take now to reduce regulatory risk in 2015. Most broker-dealers can address many of the recommendations with ease.

This article is not a summary of the letter; instead it is a guide to assist broker-dealers in addressing topics raised. A good practice for Chief Compliance Officers (“CCOs”) is to perform a gap analysis of the topics discussed vis-à-vis their firms’ current practices, and begin addressing gaps identified immediately.

Several themes emerged, and Compliance Departments should ensure their programs are appropriately weighted towards these themes. Themes included: conflicts of interest, improved and increased surveillance, supervision, review of new products and continuous monitoring of existing products.

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The 2015 Affordable Care Act

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by Greg DiFalco

Health Insurance Updates for Employers and Employees

Putting politics and rhetoric aside, tis the season to prepare for the new 2015 Affordable Care Act requirements.

For Employers

Affordable Health Care On January 1, 2015, employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees will be required to provide qualified health care. Businesses within this size category must offer benefits to at least 70% of employees by 2015 and to at least 95% of employees by 2016.

Companies with between 50 and 99 full-time equivalent employees are encouraged to meet the 2015 requirements of the Affordable Care Act, but compliance for companies that fall within this employee range will not be mandatory until 2016.

Employers have specific fiduciary health care responsibilities to their employees. The cost of affordable care can be no more than 9.5% of an employee’s yearly household income. Health plans meet the minimum qualifying value if its benefits cover at least 60% of medical services. Noncompliance results in a $2,000 fee per employee (with the first 30 employees fee exempt).

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Cybersecurity Awareness: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Posted on November 30th, 2014 by Mitch Avnet

cybersecurity  gift

Just in Time For The Holidays

In the wake of the many highly publicized data-breaches in 2014, our clients have reached out to us for advice and guidance in an effort to increase the overall awareness of Cybersecurity risk within their respective organizations.   Many of these clients are seeking comprehensive training and a robust framework and methodology to conduct Cybersecurity Risk Assessments on a targeted and/or enterprise basis.

The Gift of Cybersecurity Awareness

In early 2014, FINRA and SEC regulated firms caught a glimpse of regulatory focus in the form of targeted examination “sweep” letters focused on Cybersecurity.  Although these letters raised awareness of regulatory focus and concern regarding Cybersecurity within the Broker-Dealer and Investment Adviser communities – most firms are still  “in the dark” in terms of how they should conduct internal Cybersecurity Risk Assessments, ensuring they are meeting regulatory expectations if / when tasked by the FINRA or the SEC to evidence their diligence in this high profile area.

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Jason Wachtel talks to Compliance Week about desired skills for compliance officers

Posted on November 18th, 2014 by Kristy Wright Skeehan

leadership-complianceweekIn today’s Compliance Week, JW Michaels Managing Partner Jason Wachtel discussed the need for compliance officers to have excellent leadership and communication skills.

“Companies are seeking compliance leaders who have the ability to influence others, communicate effectively, and build relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, including regulators. “So you want that person to be polished, well-spoken,” says Jason Wachtel, managing partner of executive search firm JW Michaels.”

Wachtel also discussed the increase in the number of companies hiring people who have worked at the SEC.

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JW Michaels named the 20th fastest growing small business in NYC by Symmetry50

Posted on November 4th, 2014 by Kristy Wright Skeehan

SYMMETRY 50

 

On October 28, JW Michaels & Co. was ranked as the 20th fastest growing company on Symmetry50’s annual list of the top 5o fastest growing small businesses in New York City.

Learn more about how JW Michaels has become so successful and see the full list of companies on Symmetry50’s blog: http://www.symmetry50.com/blog/2014/10/21/the-fastest-growing-small-businesses-in-nyc

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Fred Davis, VP of Risk, speaks at PRMIA career planning event

Posted on November 4th, 2014 by Kristy Wright Skeehan

On November 3, JW Michaels’s Vice President of Risk & Front Office, Fred Davis, was a presenter at an event hosted by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRMIA) at Columbia University. Along with several other top risk recruitment professionals, Fred provided advice and strategy on making a career move and securing a job and discussed recent hiring trends in the area of Risk.

Check out this great photo of Fred presenting in Columbia’s Davis Auditorium: Read more on “Fred Davis, VP of Risk, speaks at PRMIA career planning event” »

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Are you CEO and CCO? : The Genuine Cost of Non-Compliance

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 by Elin Cherry

By Elin Cherry, Compliance Risk Concepts

compliance support neededOn September 18, 2014, the SEC issued a final Order against registered investment adviser – Strategic Capital Group (“SCG”).  The Order was a typical laundry list of wrong doings by SCG:

  • SCG engaged in hundreds of securities transactions with advisory clients on a principal basis through its affiliated registered broker – dealer, RP Capital, LLC (“RP Capital”), without providing prior written disclosure to, or obtaining consent from, the clients.
  • SCG Forms ADV Part 1A filed in 2012 and 2013, SCG incorrectly stated that neither it nor any related person engaged in principal transactions.
  • SCG failed to seek best execution in determining to route its clients’ fixed-income transactions to RP Capital.
  • SCG provided prospective clients advertisements that contained false and misleading claims and disclosures about the performance of SCG’s investment model. The advertisements were also publicly available on * SCG’s website for at least a month.
  • SCG’s Chief Executive Officer, and its Chief Compliance Officer failed to implement SCG’s compliance policies and procedures that were reasonably designed to prevent violations of the Advisers Act.

Read more on “Are you CEO and CCO? : The Genuine Cost of Non-Compliance” »

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End Of Year Compliance Requirements For Broker Dealers

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by Mitch Avnet

YOU BETTER CHECK YOURSELF – BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

End of Year Compliance Requirements For Broker Dealers

compliance bulletinAs the end of 2014 quickly approaches, this Compliance Bulletin serves as a notice and reminder to Broker Dealers regarding year-end responsibilities that must be executed in accordance with FINRA / SEC regulatory requirements. Reconciling your current “state of compliance” is the most effective way to ascertain your program’s status and ensure your firm continues to meet its ongoing regulatory requirements.

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