The Securities Industry/Regulatory Council on Continuing Education (CE Council) is seeking comments on enhancements under consideration for the continuing education requirements for registered persons, according to an announcement from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The CE Council — composed of representatives of the securities industry and securities industry self-regulatory organizations, including FINRA—develops uniform continuing education requirements for registered persons of broker-dealers.

According to John Kalohn, FINRA’s vice president for testing and continuing education, FINRA supports the CE Council’s efforts to solicit industry comments for further improvements.

“Changes in technology and learning theory have created new opportunities to increase efficiencies and offer greater flexibility to industry professionals,” Kalohn said in a statement.

The CE Program consists of two parts, a regulatory element and a firm element.

The regulatory element, which is administered by FINRA, focuses on regulatory requirements and industry standards. The firm element, developed and administered by each broker-dealer, focuses on securities products, services and strategies offered by broker-dealers, among other topics such as firm policies and industry trends.

The goal of the two-part CE Program has been to provide targeted educational material that facilitates registered persons maintaining adequate knowledge and understanding of the rules and practices necessary to perform their registered activities.

The CE Council has identified a number of possible program enhancements, as well as several areas for which the CE Council is interested in gathering additional information on current firm practices and needs.

By soliciting feedback, the CE Council is seeking to enhance its efforts to:

  • communicate regulatory developments to the industry via the regulatory element portion of the program in a timely fashion;
  • improve coordination between firm and regulatory element programs;
  • allow for diverse instructional formats that facilitate the learning of a variety of content;
  • identify and reduce redundancy among training requirements and programs;
  • ensure all registered professionals in the industry receive adequate training;
  • enable previously registered individuals to maintain their qualification status by satisfying continuing education requirements while out of the industry; and
  • consider more defined minimum standards of CE for the industry.

The CE Council is also interested in opportunities for reciprocity with other securities or related financial services credentialing programs that offer or require continuing education.

Among the other efforts, FINRA also supports exploring the possibility of allowing individuals who step away from the industry for a time — whether for professional or personal reasons — to maintain their qualifications through continuing education and then return to the industry without having to retake the qualification tests for new entrants, according to FINRA President and CEO Robert Cook.

“One aspect of considering this approach involves assessing how continuing education could be adjusted to support the ongoing qualification of representatives consistent with high standards of investor protection, and we welcome the CE Council’s effort to solicit comment in this regard,” Cook said in a statement.

The CE Council has obtained initial feedback from a series of focus groups composed of securities industry representatives, but now seeks to reach a broader audience to gauge support and identify challenges that possible enhancements might create.

Comments on the notice are requested by Nov. 5.

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