A firm in Florida was recently fined for failing to update their WSPs after it began recommending EB-5 investments. Additionally, it was discovered that many of their WSPs were “not deemed reasonable because they provided only limited guidance to those representatives at the firm who facilitated and participated in these EB-5 transactions.”
Are you continually updating your WSPs?
How do you ensure new policies and WSPs have been reviewed and approved before distributing them throughout your firm?
Oftentimes firms have their policies and WSPs in various pdfs and word documents throughout their system. Many advisors are referencing outdated files saved on the network or their computers.
The Policies app from SiteQuest Compliance helps firms organize their policies and written supervisory procedures into one online platform that conveys a professional branded content to their advisors.
Policies is a powerful tool used to consolidate, version control, and distribute your firm’s policies and WSPs to your employees and advisors. With our VIP Service included with Policies, SiteQuest Compliance manages all the changes, formatting, and online publishing for no additional charge.
Policies notify your employees when a Policy or WSP has been updated. Our “favorites” feature allows advisors to bookmark these new updates for quick reference. In accordance with FINRA rules our Policies application ensures the most up-to-date policies are accessed, identified, and utilized, reducing your risks.
This same disciplinary action ruled that “the firm failed to establish, maintain and enforce a system, including WSPs, reasonably designed to supervise its registered representatives’ EB-5 related websites. The firm did not conduct regular supervisory reviews of websites maintained by the two representatives in relation to their EB-5 business that contained content that violated FINRA’s advertising rules.”
Our SQWatcher program compliments our Policies application while assisting your compliance department with monitoring your registered advisors’ websites.
SQWatcher automatically creates workflow events when website changes have been made, allowing for quick and easy reviews. SQWatcher’s updated dashboard, bulk review enhancements, and powerful workflow review processes allows your firm to monitor and document dozens to hundreds of websites with relatively few employee hours involved.
Automated documentation reduces compliance and “failure to supervise” risks while demonstrating to regulators, your firm is actively supervising these unique websites in compliance with FINRA and SEC rules.
Contact us today for your personalized demo and see for yourself how SiteQuest Compliance can streamline your processes while maximizing your time and efficiencies.
MONITORING WEBSITES CAN BE DIFFICULT, TIME CONSUMING, AND SOMETIMES THEY BECOME A BIG HEADACHE
Websites are always changing, trending, and updating information about products, company and or your advisors. What happens when these sites aren’t hosted by one of your approved advisor website providers? Those “rogue sites” or “off the range sites” as they are often called, that are created directly by the advisor or by a provider outside of the industry. It then becomes your responsibility to monitor, identify, respond, and document everything that happens with that website as well as archiving it.
While there are various solutions out there that help monitor websites for changes, reviewing changes and finding the right kinds of changes have proven to be difficult. With SQWatcher, we took a completely different approach and put added focus on the types of content that comes into the workflow.
SQWatcher stands for SiteQuest Watcher and our “Watcher” technology is behind everything that happens in the system. For every client, we create custom “watchers” that identify and isolate the types of changes they would like to review. As the application scans your website(s) throughout the day, it will analyze the changes that are found and determine if a review is required.
Additionally, we've learned over the years that advisor websites have many dynamic elements contained within them. These include stock tickers, date widgets, recent post sidebars, calendars, and more, all of which can change on a daily or near daily basis, often generating unwanted reviews. We’ve added a new technology that allows our clients to request “ignores” on these dynamic elements to limit unnecessary reviews. These adjustments allow the sites to be "tuned" over a very short period of time which limits the number and volume of reviews in a big way.
Finally, we’ve added powerful bulk review actions that in essence, allows a single review to apply to multiple pages. For example, if the system detected a change to the footer, that would generate hundreds of reviews in other systems, each requiring a separate review. With SQWatcher’s bulk review processes, this sort of change can be reviewed once and then applied across the remaining pages that reflect the same change, streamlining the review process like never before.
SiteQuest Compliance is proud of our long-standing tradition of listening to our customers’ needs within their job requirements. Our SQWatcher application was built with these customer requests in mind. We would love to take the time to personally show you how this application will work for your firm. Contact us today for your personalized demo.
As the SEC “Modernizes” their Marketing Rule for Investment Advisors, What does it mean for Compliance?
It has been over 40 years since significant changes to "The Investment Advisers Act" were adopted. To say that advisors are excited about this recent update is definitely an understatement. With all of the different communication and social media platforms available to advisors, they are eagerly looking forward to sharing testimonials with potential clients hoping to open new doors of opportunities.
Firms and their compliance departments need to take a proactive approach when it comes to addressing these new marketing updates. Testimonials and endorsements still need to be monitored and approved to ensure they are not misleading investors. Firms need to decide what types of statements they are going to approve, what platforms will be utilized, and how registered advisors are going to notify them and gain approval before any endorsement is published.
Initially advisors will want to add these testimonials and endorsements to their websites and other online destinations that may or may not be monitored by compliance. Demands on compliance’s time for monitoring and approvals will certainly increase. Additionally, firms need to reevaluate their disclosure policies to ensure that advisors provide notification and documentation of what and where they wish to publish testimonials and endorsements online.
Compliance departments should expect to see a large increase in their workload related to internet monitoring and approvals that need to occur. What will compliance do to monitor endorsement and testimonial platforms such as Yelp, Google Reviews, or social media platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter? Advertisements that include third-party ratings will be required to include specific disclosures to prevent them from being misleading.
Is compliance waiting for advisors to disclose everything? Are policies based entirely on the honor system? How do you discover your advisor’s online presence, including these new testimonials and endorsements if they are not disclosing them to compliance?
While you are forming your compliance strategy and updating policies, procedures and workflows it is important to consider how and what technologies can assist compliance with this increased workload. As the SEC and FINRA are adapting to new technology, compliance departments need to evolve and rely on innovative technology as well to support their job requirements.
For over a decade, SiteQuest Compliance has continued to be a trusted partner, supporting compliance and supervision departments with tools that can help meet these increasing demands with regards to compliance and supervision.
Our Eagle Eye solution uncovers and supervises your advisors’ online footprint. It discovers social media accounts, websites, blogs, yelp pages, OBAs, DBAs, and online profiles, allowing you to address issues prior to regulatory discovery or examination.
Our SQWatcher platform monitors and archives advisor websites including those that may be hosted by non-approved website providers. It creates historical records of these sites, creates workflow events of specific types of changes like new pages, changes to readable text, images, and more with customizable rules to meet your needs.
This update to the Investment Advisers Act will require your firm to revise its policies. Our newly launched Policies solution is a powerful tool used to organize, version control, and distribute your firm’s policies and Written Supervisory Procedures (WSPs) to your employees and advisors. Ensuring that your advisors always have access to your most current policies with easy to search features.
As your advisors are “Modernizing their Marketing Practices” contact us today to discuss your specific needs and concerns. Let us show you how we can help streamline your workflows to maximize your time, while helping to ensure you don’t miss anything with regards to internet and website supervision and content approval.
Sources: https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2020-334 | https://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2020/ia-5653.pdf
This spring FINRA announced the formation of the Office of Financial Innovation that will serve as a central point of coordination for issues related to financial innovations by FINRA member firms, particularly new uses of financial technology.
The goal in mind to further enhance FINRA’s ability to identify, understand and foster financial innovation in a manner that strengthens investor protection and market integrity.
With 10 years of experience supporting our partners in their supervision and compliance with FINRA, SiteQuest Compliance is pleased about the dedication to financial innovation.
SiteQuest Compliance has a long standing tradition of being a thought-leader. Working side-by-side with customers as we develop and improve our supervision applications to meet their needs. As more and more regulation burden is being put upon financial firms, SiteQuest Compliance is stepping up and serving as a trusted partner. Learn more about our applications.
Eagle Eye is the first of its kind application that uncovers and supervises your advisors’ online footprint. It discovers social media accounts, websites, blogs, OBAs, DBAs, online profiles, and events that belong to or are about your advisors, allowing you to address issues prior to regulatory discovery or examination.
SQWatcher stands for our SiteQuest "Watcher". Our SQWatcher application monitors and archives advisor websites that may be hosted by non-approved website providers. It creates historical records of these sites, creates workflow events of specific types of changes like new pages, changes to readable text, images, and more with customizable rules to meet your needs.
Policies organizes, manages and delivers your firms policies and WSPs. Our Policies application provides a clean, easy-to-use, easy-to-search and up-to-date experience for your advisors. Policies brings all of your procedures, policies, WSPs and other documentation into one place that can be accessed on both a desktop and mobile devices.
Our customers have referred to our applications as “force multipliers” that exponentially expand their search and supervision capabilities. Firms are able to identify and address issues before they are brought to their attention by a regulator.
“Innovation continues to pose new opportunities and challenges for our member firms and the broader financial services industry, and it is essential that we as regulators keep pace,” said FINRA President and CEO Robert W. Cook.
With the even increasing trend for registered advisors to utilize technology to grow their online presence with updated profiles while sharing fresh and timely content. It is paramount that supervisors have support and a partner to help them with their ever increasing responsibilities.
Let us show you how we can help. Contact us today to discuss your supervision challenges. Together we can lay out a plan to keep pace with technology innovations.
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!