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FINRA May Kill Suitability Rule if SEC's Reg BI Finalized: Cook

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If the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest for brokers is finalized, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority will consider doing away with its suitability rule, Robert Cook, FINRA’s president and CEO, said Tuesday.

“If Reg BI is adopted, then we need to look at our rule set to determine if any changes are appropriate,” Cook said at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s annual conference in Washington. To “take an obvious one: Do we still need our suitability rule or does it still need to apply to everyone who’s subject to Reg BI? I think that’s the sort of question we would need to look at.”

Depending on what “Reg BI looks like and how it turns out,” Cook said it will be on the broker-dealer self-regulator’s plate “to at least take a look at rules and see if they need adjustment in light of Reg BI.”

Cook also reiterated that part of FINRA’s mandate is to examine for compliance with SEC rules, so with Reg BI FINRA will “look for compliance with that just like we do today with other SEC rules,” noting that FINRA will need to be in touch with “the authors of the rule, the authorized interpreters of the rule” in order to maintain “consistent” compliance outcomes.

As to FINRA’s announcement Monday that it was consolidating its three separate exam programs into a single, unified program, Cook said the 18-month assessment has been a “significant” undertaking.

“We got a lot of comments about the exam program and opportunities for improvement there,” Cook said.

Over the last 18 months, he continued, FINRA has been looking at the organizational structure of the exam program and “finding that’s become an obstacle in taking the program to the next level.” He added that FINRA wants to have a “risk-based program where it’s allocating resources to those areas of greatest risk to investors.”

FINRA will be integrating its business conduct, financial and trading compliance exams under a single framework, Cook said, “and there will be a separate examination unit” to handle those exams.

On Thursday, Cook said, FINRA will be releasing a research report on millennials and advice that it conducted with the CFA Institute, dubbed The Seven Myths of Millennial Investors, that will have some “counterintuitive” results.

— Check out FINRA’s New Competency Exams a ‘Significant’ Event for Some BDs on ThinkAdvisor.


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