May 8, 2014

Chris Winn will be hosting a webinar on "SEC's New RIA Guidance On Social Media" at 4:00pm EST


SEC's New RIA Guidance On Social Media

Register Now
Friday, May 9 at 4 p.m. Eastern

You must be a paying A4A member ($60 annually) to attend webinars, view replays, and receive CPA,
CFP or IMCA CE credit. Join.
How do RIAs and their teams use social media without raising the risk of compliance problems?

Last month, the SEC released new guidance for RIAs on the use of client testimonials in social media, clarifying what you can and cannot say and do. For instance, publishing a partial client list is okay, the SEC says, and SEC no longer maintains that a social profile with non-investment related commentary regarding an IAR, such as regarding an IAR’s religious affiliation or community service, may violate the testimonial rule.   

At this webinar, Chris Winn will cover the current trends in social media regulation, including the SEC’s recent guidance to provide practical advice to navigate the social world in a compliant manner, including:
  • Current social media regulatory framework
  • New SEC guidance
  • When is an action a "testimonial"?
  • Common social media mistakes made by IARs
Chris Winn is founder of AdvisorAssist, a management consulting firm focused exclusively on investment advisory firms. AdvisorAssist manages the start-up and transition to help firms get off to a good start. It also provides ongoing support on compliance, practice management and technology to aid in risk-managed growth. Services include strategy, transition management, registration, incubation, vendor selection and compliance program design.
Advisors4Advisors is a continuing education sponsor for CFP, CPA, CIMA, CIMC, and CPWA professionals. CFP® and IMCA-accredited professionals receive professional education credit on 24/7 replays as well as live sessions held Fridays at 4 p.m. ET. CPAs must attend live sessions to receive CPE. View details.

This webinar is pending eligibility for CFP®, IMCA® and PACE credit toward CLU® and ChFC® designations and it is eligible for CPA CPE credit.
Who Should Attend:
 Financial Advisors, CFPs, CFAs, CPA/PFSs, CIMAs, CLUs and ChFCs.
Cost: There is no fee to attend this course if you are a member of Advisors4Advisors ($60/year).CPE credit: 1 hour, in the Regulatory Ethics field of study
Prerequisites: None
Advanced Preparation: None
Course Level: Overview
Course Delivery Method: Group Internet-Based
Program Policies: For more information regarding administrative policies such as refund, cancellation and complaint, please contact our offices at 516-333-0066 x219, or via email:

Advisors4Advisors is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its Advisors4Advisors is also approved as a continuing education sponsor by IMCA, which administers the CIMA and CPWA designations, and CFP Board of Standards, which licenses the designation for CFP® professionals.
View webinars

February 21, 2014

SEC Warns Never Before Examined Advisors - We're Coming!

Are you ready for an SEC Exam?

If you are SEC registered and have yet to receive an exam, you better prepare.

For months the SEC has alluded to its focus on "never-before examined advisers".

On February 20, 2014, despite tight resources at the SEC, they formally issued a letter to Firm Owners and Chief Compliance Officers.

"Our [SEC] records indicate your firm is a registered investment adviser that has never been examined by the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) within the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”)." [See SEC Letter dated February 20, 2014.]

So, we have established they are coming. Now we are left with "when" and are you ready?

As a compliance consultant, I can attest that the SEC has been active. We have been neck deep in supporting advisor exams throughout the fall and coming into 2014. However, it is quite doubtful that they will get to all NBE Advisers in 2014, but your firm must prepare as if your turn is imminent.

The SEC has disclosed two approaches towards these examinations, including: a risk assessment reviews and focused reviews.

Risk-Assessment Reviews are broader examinations that cover your entire compliance program. These reviews will focus on the effectiveness of your overall compliance program in preventing, detecting and correcting violations of the securities laws. In these examinations, the SEC will examine your overall business model and ensure you not only have the policies and procedures in place, but that your firm adheres to these policies consistently. The SEC will focus on your documentation and its consistency. [Note: If you can prove you completed a task or action, it did not happen in the eyes of the regulators. So please maintain proper documentation of business and compliance activities.]

Focused Reviews will target specific areas of your business model, including the Compliance Program, Filings/Disclosures, Marketing, Portfolio Management, and Safety of Client Assets. While these items may sound focused, they are both broad and inherent in most aspects of your enterprise risk and compliance. If the SEC finds some areas of weakness, they are very likely to continue into a deeper examination. In addition, the SEC recently announced their 2014 Priorities, which may yield some additional insights into the topics for Focused Reviews.

So how do you prepare?

There is no single answer to this question, but certainly taking no action has a certain end result. Here are some suggestions:

  • Risk Inventory. Start with developing a risk matrix that identifies all the business and compliance processes of your firm. Rank each items for their level of risk, impact, frequency and other parameters. The outcome of this activity should be a sortable list of your risk areas that can serve as the basis to formulate priorities.
  • Review Action Plan. Develop a reasonable and continuous action plan to review the target areas on your risk assessment. [Note: you will want to cover all areas of your business over time.]
  • Document. Document. Document. It is imperative that you document the details of your reviews. If you find areas of material weakness, you may want to consult your compliance or legal partners before committing the issues to writing. However the key takeaway is that you must be able to demonstrate [through evidence] that you perform these reviews of your firm. The approach towards documentation is not defined by the regulations, but it must sufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness of the control environment.
  • Leverage your Team. Compliance has largely been left on the shoulders of the Chief Compliance Officer. An effective compliance program contemplates a "culture of compliance". Leaving the risk management to the CCO is not an effective way to manage risk and it naturally results in a low return on your investment. Integrating risk management into your organization brings accountability to all supervised persons of your firm and creates a stronger risk environment.
  • Seek External Support. If you have areas of your compliance program that require immediate attention or you are not sure how to get started, it is often best to engage external compliance resources. Mock examinations, structured compliance programs and targeted support are some of the options that are available.

Best of luck in your preparation

February 6, 2014

Minnesota IARs - Did you register?

The registration for Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) registrations in Minnesota is January 31, 2014

In August 2013, Minnesota enacted a law bringing its IAR rules in line with virtually every other state. [See August Post]. Effective August 31, 2013, Minnesota law required formal registration for all IARs.

Due to system delays at FINRA, the Minnesota Department of Commerce issued [“Implementation of Registration Process for Investment Adviser Representatives.” dated October 31, 2014], which set forth the required filing period [November 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014].

A Form U4 must be filed for each IAR. Further, each IAR must have completed the required examinations [Series 65 or 66] or have a recognized exemption from the examination requirements [CFP®, ChFC®, CFA®, PFS, or CIC designations in good standing].

If you are in need of assistance with these requirements, please contact us at or call 617-800-0388.

Below is a notice emailed to advisor from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Minnesota issued an update to all Minnesota Registered Investment Advisors on February 6, 2014

As of February 1, 2014 The Minnesota Department of Commerce has closed the initial Investment Advisor registration window. This allowed investment advisors to register with the State of Minnesota without first meeting an exam requirement per the Amended Order (.pdf) issued on October 31st, 2013.

Any applications that have been submitted on or prior to January 31st 2014, will be reviewed and processed as outlined in the amended order. Any applications received on or after February 1, 2014 will need to comply with the requirements as outlined in Minnesota Statute 80A.58 [AA Note: which requires the Series 65 or 66 exam or specific exemption].

To date, close to 10,000 investment advisor representatives have been approved for registration and more than 2,000 refunds have been issued to firms. If you are waiting for a refund please remember to send the following information to the Securities Registration mailbox.

Firm Name/CRD Number
Individual name/CRD number
Transaction Number & Transaction Date
Posting Date
Dollar Amount
Hire Date

Please send questions or comments to:

For additional information please visit the Securities Registration and Enforcement Section of the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.

February 4, 2014

SEC Announces Cyber Security Exams

Financial Advisor Magazine reports that the SEC will begin conducting Cyber security exams for investment advisory firms by late September.

More at

January 3, 2014

FINRA Refunds

Hopefully you made it safely through the FINRA renewal process this year.

With new, but still outdated FINRA systems and states in need of funds, we find ourselves at the edge of our seats through the renewal payment season.

Based on the limitations of the FINRA systems, some firms were forced to overpay in November and December. Now it is time to get a refund. FINRA will not automatically refund any overpayments. A formal request to FINRA is required.

Here's how you do this...

How to Request a Refund from Your Account

Firms may choose to withdraw funds from their Flex-Funding Account due to various circumstances (e.g., renewal refund, or account overfunding). To request a refund from your firm's account, send an email to FINRA Refunds.

Email must be sent from an appropriate firm signatory
Reference the Firm CRD number
Include requested refund amount
Please include the total balance of your firm’s Flex-Funding Account for verification purposes in the email.

Note: The refund check will be made payable to the firm and mailed to the address of record. Most refund requests should be processed within 10 business days of receipt except during the annual renewal season.

For AdvisorAssist Compliance Clients, we will be contacting you to determine any refunds you would like processed.