A securities corporation in California was recently censured and fined for a variety of violations related to their WSPs.
“Representatives were able to maintain business-related pages on a social media site that had not been preapproved by a qualified registered principal. As a result of the firm not reasonably monitoring for usage of undisclosed websites, it failed to preapprove websites operated by representatives as required by its WSPs.”
The Securities Corporation’s WSPs required that the firm conduct a weekly review of registered representatives' social media sites that had been disclosed to the firm. Notwithstanding the firm's WSPs, this firm failed to conduct such a review 22 times out of a sample of 26 weeks reviewed by FINRA.
Additionally, during this audit period, the firm's WSPs required that a registered representative receive preapproval for a webpage on a business-related social media site. Because the firm did not have a reasonable system to monitor for compliance with its social media policies. 38 registered representatives were able to maintain business-related webpages on a social media site that had not been preapproved by a qualified registered principal. Additionally, because the firm did not reasonably monitor for usage of undisclosed websites, the firm failed to preapprove four websites operated by registered representatives as required by the firm's WSPs.
It can become very time consuming for a CCO to manually perform weekly reviews on advisors' websites and online presence. Automation is the key to any compliance program and that is where SiteQuest Compliance is able to assist you on a variety of fronts.
We often hear from CCOs Eagle Eye uncovers undisclosed social media accounts.
How are you to supervise these accounts when you don’t even know about them in the first place?
That is where our Eagle Eye application comes in to support your internet supervision methods. With “Eagle Eyes”, our application will help you search, discover, and document your advisors’ online presence. This includes undisclosed social media accounts, websites, blogs, and more. With customizable workflows this application will help you approve, or flag for further review each discovery.
This firm was also cited and fined for failing to monitor websites, and for not pre-approving websites operated by their representatives. SiteQuest Compliance brings you years of experience when it comes to web crawling, monitoring, archiving, and website analysis with our SQWatcher application.
SQWatcher can monitor websites hosted on your network, or an outside hosting systems. We would love to personally demonstrate how our applications will support and enhance your supervision processes.
Let us show you how it is done. Schedule your personalized demo today.
Source: (FINRA Case #2015047824201)
A company from Virginia was expelled from FINRA membership for several violations. Some of the FINRA findings included;
“That the firm included issuer communications on its website that it knew or had reason to know contained untrue statements of material facts or were otherwise false or misleading.”
If a claim is filed against your company for posting statements on your website that the claimant said is misleading or untrue, are you able to defend your company? Do you have the documentation and reports to support your response?
Our SQWatcher application is a web-based tool that not only archives your website, but also analyzes it each day. SQWatcher creates readily accessible backup files that can be easily retrieved to immediately identify and fix something that could have gone wrong.
It’s also important to note that unlike other archival systems that may only take a screenshot to show you what the website “looked like” in the past, SQWatcher collects the actual HTML code for every page on your clients’ website(s). This provides the ability to not only view the page in question, but also browse the rest of the site as it appeared in the past as part of your review process.
Are you responsible for monitoring one or more websites for your company? This can become a daunting task for any financial supervisor with the continual changes and updates. Are you notified when website information is updated so that you can review and ensure that the changes made online are correct? SQWatcher has taken this into account so that you are automatically notified.
This same Virginia firm was also cited by FINRA for “not reasonably supervising its activities of those of its associated persons.”
Our Eagle Eye product is the first of its kind application that is designed specifically to help the financial industry easily and effectively supervise the web. Eagle Eye automatically searches, documents, and reports on your web supervision responsibilities so you have everything you need to find and address issues before they are brought to your attention by a regulator.
Eagle Eye and SQWatcher working together are a force multiplier in your supervisory scheme. The cost of these applications are just a fraction of the cost a fine.
Working in the finance industry for over 15 years SiteQuest Technologies is an innovative partnership for your firm. We work closely with your supervision departments making sure that our products are continually evolving and optimized with your concerns in mind.
Contact us today to see how we can assist you in your web supervision needs.
With our ever-increasing dependency on the internet to do business, the SEC's Division of Examinations issued an “Risk Alert” pertaining to the various forms of electronic messaging. These can include social media sites, YouTube, Yelp, blogs, articles, websites, and more, used by advisers for business-related communications. These activities require supervision which are often time consuming, and often done as manual internet searches. These electronic messages present added challenges for supervisors in complying with certain provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
The Division of Examinations specifically mentioned three main areas for supervisors to address and encouraged firms and advisers to review their risks, practices, policies, and procedures regarding electronic messaging and to consider any improvements to their compliance programs that would help them comply with applicable regulatory requirements.
“Running regular Internet searches or setting up automated alerts to notify the adviser when an employee’s name or the adviser’s name appears on a website to identify potentially unauthorized advisory business being conducted online.”
With countless pages on the internet, where do you find the time to search and find your advisors online presence?
Are you are utilizing a manual “Google” internet search?
Do you get automatically notified when an advisor’s name appears on a website?
Our Eagle Eye application is the leading-edge solution to help you find your advisors’ online footprint. Designed with built-in intelligence that searches the internet and sifts through the clutter bringing only the most relevant results to your attention.
With our “Risk-Based Review Process”, one reviewer can supervise hundreds to thousands of advisors in very little time. Learn More
“Regularly reviewing popular social media sites to identify if employees are using the media in a way not permitted by the adviser’s policies. Such policies included prohibitions on using personal social media for business purposes or using it outside of the vendor services the adviser uses for monitoring and record retention.”
Currently most social media monitoring systems rely on the honor system. Firms depend on their advisors to tell them about their use of social media. How do you protect your firm if your advisors are not so forthcoming? With billions of active users on social media daily, how do you find that Twitter handle, YouTube Channel, or that Yelp listing, that is going unsupervised?
Our Eagle Eye’s multi-query processes and dynamically designed algorithms can help you find this social media presence. Our risk-based approach to the workflow process has added system intelligence, enhanced lexicon capabilities, system learning, allowing Eagle Eye to automatically discover your riskiest advisors and alert your attention to where it’s needed. With Eagle Eye’s automated documentation, you will have everything you need including when a result was found, who reviewed it, comments that were made, and timestamps on every action taken on the account. Learn More
“For advisers that permit use of … personal websites for business purposes, contracting with software vendors to (i) monitor the social media posts, emails, or websites, (ii) archive such business communications to ensure compliance with record retention rules, and (iii) ensure that they have the capability to identify any changes to content and compare postings to a lexicon of key words and phrases.”
Our SQWatcher application is a web-based solution that automatically tracks, monitors, and archives your firms’ and advisors’ websites keeping you compliant. SQWatcher will identify and notify you of changes to website content and it has lexicon capabilities. This industry leading application brings you years of experience when it comes to web crawling, archiving and website analysis. Learn More
The Division of Examinations encouraged firms to “consider any improvements to their compliance programs that would help them comply with applicable regulatory requirements.” The innovative applications from SiteQuest Technologies bring great improvements to any firm’s compliance program.
The Division of Examinations also encouraged advisers to stay abreast of evolving technology and how they are meeting their regulatory requirements while utilizing new technology. With the ever changing online platforms, trust a company with over 15 years of experience in providing leading-edge compliance and supervision applications, and website solutions for the financial industry. Over 40,000 advisors online presence is being tracked with Eagle Eye today. Contact us today to discuss the compliance issues you are facing when it comes to internet searches, the SEC, and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.
Source: OCIE Risk Alert (reference page 4)
Are you ready for the February 1, 2020 implementation deadline?
In 2019, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced an amendment to the “New York Insurance Regulation 187” that affects annuities and life insurance sales.
“It requires insurers to establish standards and procedures to supervise recommendations by agents and brokers to consumers with respect to life insurance policies and annuity contracts issued in New York State so that any transaction with respect to those policies is in the best interest of the consumer and appropriately addresses the insurance needs and financial objectives of the consumer at the time of the transaction.” (DFS Press Release)
What does this mean for compliance supervisors? For firms issuing annuities, they must now do an online review for names and titles used by the registered representative that are selling their products in the State of New York.
“An insurer shall establish, maintain, and audit a system of supervision that is reasonably designed to achieve the insurer’s and producers’ compliance with this policy.” (Section 224.6)
Eagle Eye is already the partner of choice for many firms when it comes to supervising a registered representative’s online presence. With this updated rule, those utilizing our Eagle Eye application have a tool in place that monitors for this new regulation.
Consider partnering with Eagle Eye. For 10 years, SiteQuest Compliance is a trusted supervision and compliance partner. Let us show you how our application will save you time while streamlining your supervision processes and automatically documenting and reporting on your findings.
Contact us today to schedule your personalized demo.
About James Cella
James Cella is the President of a growing and innovative compliance technology provider called SiteQuest Compliance. James is a customer-centric individual and focuses on building and sustaining positive and lasting relationship with his clients and partners. James and his family are "super fans" of University of Utah Football and have attended nearly every home game since 2002. Go Utes!