National financial services regulators are starting to respond to Katrina by easing the regulatory burden on companies in the affected region.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it is putting together an emergency Katrina relief notice.

The agencies that regulate employee benefit plans == the Internal Revenue Service, the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. == say they will be giving employers in the disaster relief zone until Oct. 31 to make any benefit plan contributions due between Aug. 29 and Oct. 30.

But the longest, most interesting guidance comes from the National Association of Securities Dealers, Washington.

The NASD asks member firms to tell it about any problems with implementing business continuation plans, but it admits further down in the notice that it has had some business continuation problems of its own: It cannot retrieve the membership application files in its New Orleans and may have to ask the applicants to help it reconstruct the files.

In the notice, the NASD also

- Lets member firms set up temporary offices without filing branch office applications.

- Requires member firms to send it a list of missing books and records by Oct. 30. The list does not have to include “records that can be recreated from an electronic database or that can be retrieved from a service bureau, back-up records storage facility, etc.,” the NASD says.

- Requires member firms to notify the NASD about the dollar amount of any customer checks or securities that cannot be located or accounted for.

A copy of the NASD notice is at http://www.nasd.com/web/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&ssDocName=NASDW_014940

A copy of the SEC announcement is at http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2005-125.htm, and a copy of the benefit plan notice is at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-05-60.pdf