FINRA CEO Robert Cook.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said Monday that it has launched a Small Firm Helpline as part of the self-regulator’s continuing efforts to enhance its support for small firms.

Approximately 3,400 small firms are registered with FINRA, employing 150 or fewer registered representatives.

The toll-free helpline, staffed by FINRA employees, will operate 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. eastern standard time and was created under the FINRA360 organizational review launched by FINRA CEO Robert Cook in 2017.

“One of the real benefits of our role as a self-regulatory organization is our ability to provide firms with the tools and resources to help them comply with regulations – and this new resource is aimed squarely at doing that,” Cook said in a Monday statement.

The helpline, Cook continued, “will serve as the clearinghouse for more routine calls and general information, which will make it faster and easier for small firms to get answers, and will free up other critical FINRA resources to help firms with more substantive matters such as examinations, financial questions, the implementation of rules and licensing requirements.”

FINRA said the helpline is designed to serve as a complement to firms’ Regulatory Coordinator by offering another place “to get assistance navigating FINRA’s systems and resources” and for answers to general questions.

Cook said last July that he was “worried” about the smaller pool of BDs. “I do think there’s a role for the smaller broker-dealers to play. They sometimes provide services to communities who otherwise might be underserved, and they sometimes provide access to capital markets, especially municipalities, that might otherwise be underserved. And small business is an engine of job growth and we should be thinking of this issue of wanting to promote that engine of job growth,” Cook said.

Regulators, he continued, should look at the regulatory requirements and burdens on small firms.

FINRA pointed to these other actions taken under the FINRA360 review to enhance support for small firms:

  • rule reviews to help find ways to reduce the regulatory burden for small firms while maintaining important investor protections;
  • Compliance Vendor Directory to give small firms more choice when searching for third-party vendors in support of a variety of compliance functions;
  • Compliance Calendar that gives firms a calendar view of regulatory deadlines, upcoming educational programs and other events, including rule effectiveness and implementation dates;
  • updated RSS subscription feeds to ensure firms receive real-time alerts for FINRA news releases, regulatory notices, requests for comment and rule filings;
  • enhanced educational offerings and reduced conference fees;
  • additional small firm scholarships for the Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional (CRCP) Scholarship Program; and
  • improved the small firm section of FINRA’s website to give firms quick access to information affecting them, such as information about the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT), frequently asked questions regarding FINRA’s rules related to financial exploitation of seniors, and a small firm cybersecurity checklist.

Firms can reach the Helpline at (833) 26-FINRA or (833) 263-4672.