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Regulating Cybersecurity; Understanding Social Security: June Investment Advisor Features—Slideshow

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Protecting their personal information, much of which is stored online nowadays, from hackers is an important individual responsibility, but for financial advisors there is an added responsibility to protect their clients’ data from thieves. Regulators are looking to make sure they do so, and exams have already begun at advisory firms and broker-dealers to make sure appropriate resources and policies are in place to prevent data breaches.

To understand Social Security’s future, you have to understand its past. Mike Patton offers a primer with an introduction to how it all started and a theory on where we might go from here.

Finally, our Broker-Dealer Presidents Poll and Reference Guide show that while broker-dealers and their reps are facing sure challenges, they’re still optimistic about their future. In fact, not a single respondent said they doubted the viability of the independent model.

Cybersecurity Crackdown

Think that your firm is too small or that your cyberdefenses are too strong to worry about digital attacks on your firm’s—and your clients’—data? The SEC and FINRA don’t think so. A reading of the regulators’ official announcements and the insights of those who know how they operate suggest that advisors run the risk not only of compromised data but of major fines as the regulators gear up to make examples of firms for cybersecurity shortcomings.

Over the past few years, attacks on advisors and their partners have morphed from the traditional account takeover—highjacking of passwords and user names—into more dramatic attacks involving sophisticated malware that is not only highly disruptive but hard to trace.

The SEC and FINRA are addressing the threat head-on, with both regulators listing cybersecurity as one of their top priorities this year and launching exam sweeps of broker-dealers and advisors that focus on the issue.

Washington Bureau Chief Melanie Waddell examines what to expect from regulators on cybersecurity in the near future.

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Social Security: Then, Now and the Future

From the earliest days of civilization, we have had the poor, the disabled and the unemployed. The belief that society should provide assistance to the needy is an early societal concept that is both compassionate and prudent. Mike Patton focuses on one area of the U.S. social welfare system: Social Security. He discusses its origins, looks at how the withholding tax for employees and employers has increased over the years and exposes the single greatest threat to its future.

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The 2014 Broker-Dealer Presidents Poll

The fifth annual Broker-Dealer Presidents Poll found the leaders of independent broker-dealers are optimistic even though they’re still smarting from the costs of staying compliant. Of the broker-dealers included in the 2014 Broker-Dealer Reference Guide, 58 presidents responded to questions in our poll. They told us about the challenges they’re facing, what they expect is weighing on their reps’ minds, and who in the industry really has their backs.

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The 2014 Broker-Dealer Reference Guide

Some observers of the independent broker-dealer universe might be tempted to explain its current state by counting the acquisitions that Nicholas Schorsch’s Realty Capital has made over the past year. Acquiring Cetera, Investors Capital, J.P. Turner, Summit Brokerage Services (and Larry Roth) will give Realty Capital about 9,000 reps, roughly $200 billion in assets and some top-flight management.

One might be forgiven in thinking the BD trend is all about consolidation, but conversations with one BD president after another paint a different picture. While margins are thin and compliance costs are getting higher, 100% of the 58 BD presidents in our poll said they believe in the viability of the IBD model.

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