By Laura Anthony, Esq.
A CAB firm will generally be subject to the current member application rules and will follow the same procedures for membership as any other FINRA applicant with four main differences.
Application; Associated Person Registration; Supervision
In particular: (i) the application has to state that the applicant will solely operate as a CAB; (ii) the FINRA review will consider whether the proposed activities are limited to CAB activities; (iii) FINRA has set out procedures for an existing member to change to a CAB; and (iv) FINRA has set out procedures for a CAB to change its status to regular full-service FINRA member firm.
The CAB rules also set out registration and qualification of principals and representatives, which incorporate by reference to existing NASD rules, including the registration and examination requirements for principals and registered representatives. CAB firm principals and representatives would be subject to the same registration, qualification examination and continuing education requirements as principals and representatives of other FINRA firms. CABs will also be subject to current rules regarding Operations Professional registration.
CABs would have a limited set of supervisory rules, although they will need to certify a chief compliance officer and have a written anti-money laundering (AML) program. In particular, the CAB rules model some, but not all, of current FINRA Rule 3110 related to supervision. CABs will be able to create their own supervisory procedures tailored to their business model. CABs will not be required to hold annual compliance meetings with their staff. CABs are also not subject to the Rule 3110 requirements for principals to review all investment banking transactions or prohibiting supervisors from supervising their own activities. CABs would be subject to FINRA Rules 3220 – Influencing or Rewarding Employees of Others, Rule 3240 – Borrowing from or Lending to Customers, and Rule 3270 – Outside Activities of Registered Persons.
Conduct Rules for CABs
The proposed CAB rules include a streamlined set of conduct rules. This is a brief summary of some of the conduct rules related to CABs. CABs would be subject to current rules on Standards of Commercial Honor and Principals of Trade (Rule 2010); Use of Manipulative, Deceptive or Other Fraudulent Devices (Rule 2020); Payments to Unregistered Persons (Rule 2040); Transactions Involving FINRA Employees (Rule 2070); Rules 2080 and 2081 regarding expungement of customer disputes; and the FINRA arbitration requirements in Rules 2263 and 2268. CABs will also be subject to know-your-customer and suitability obligations similar to current FINRA rules for full-service member firms, and likewise will be subject to the FINRA exception to that rule for institutional investors. CABs will be subject to abbreviated rules governing communications with the public and, of course, prohibitions against false and misleading statements.
CABs are specifically not subject to FINRA rules related to transactions not within the purview of allowable CAB activities. For example, CABs are not subject to FINRA Rule 2121 related to fair prices and commissions. Rule 2121 requires a fair price for buy or sell transactions where a member firm acts as principal and a fair commission or service charge where a firm acts as an agent in a transaction. Although a CAB could act as an agent in a buy or sell transaction where a counter-party is an institutional investor or where it arranges securities transactions in connection with the transfer of ownership and control of a privately held company to a buyer that will actively operate the company, in accordance with the SEC rules, rule interpretations and no action letters on such M&A deals, FINRA believes these transactions are outside the standard securities transactions that typically raise issues under Rule 2121.
Financial and Operational Rules for CABs
CABs would be subject to a streamlined set of financial and operational obligations. CABs would be subject to certain existing FINRA rules including, for example, audit requirement, maintenance of books and records, preparation of FOCUS reports and similar matters.
CABs would also have net capital requirements and be subject to suspension for non-compliance. CABs will be subject to the current net capital requirements set out by Exchange Act Rule 15c3-1.
Note 1: Read Part I of this Article. Click HERE
Note 2: Original appeared on Legal & Compliance, LLC on 26 January 2016. Click HERE
Securities attorney Laura Anthony is the founding partner of Legal & Compliance, LLC, a corporate, securities and business transactions law firm. The firm’s experienced legal team provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size private companies, OTC and exchange traded issuers as well as private companies going public on the NASDAQ, NYSE MKT or over-the-counter market, such as the OTCQB and OTCQX. For nearly two decades Legal & Compliance, LLC has served clients providing fast, personalized, cutting-edge legal service. The firm’s reputation and relationships provide invaluable resources to clients including introductions to investment bankers, broker-dealers, institutional investors and other strategic alliances.