FINRA Record Retention Requirements Checklist

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the largest independent regulator for securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA’s purpose is to protect American investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly. FINRA has regulatory oversight over all securities firms that do business with the public.

We’ve compiled a short-list of the various requirements mandated by FINRA concerning record requirements. For a full description of each requirement, please visit FINRA’s web site or click on this link to see the entire record-keeping checklist:

Memoranda of Brokerage Orders and Dealer Transactions

Record Retention: Three (3) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Associated Person Location and Identification Number Records

Record Retention: Three (3) years after the associated person has terminated employment and all other connections with the firm.

Associated Person Compensation Records

Record Retention: Three (3) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Associated Person Complaint Records

Record Retention: Three (3) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Customer Account Records

Record Retention: Six (6) years after the closing of the account or the date on which the information was replaced or updated, whichever is earlier.

Filetwin Commentary: It’s important to note here that it states “after the closing of the account”. If a customer remains a customer for five years, then the Broker would be required to hold that record for the five years that the customer was a customer and then six (6) years thereafter. In effect, that record would have a retention lifespan of eleven years.

Communications Supervision Records

Record Retention: Three (3) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Contact Person Records

Record Retention: Six (6) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Responsible Principal Records

Record Retention: Six (6) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Office Records

Record Retention: For the most recent two (2) year period.

Communications with the Public

Record Retention: Three (3) years, the first two years in an easily accessible place.

Organizational Documents

Record Retention: Life of the enterprise and of any successor enterprise.

Filetwin Commentary: If certain documents need to be retained for an indefinite period of time, it only seems prudent to maintain a retention that stores all digital records indefinitely. In the digital world, the cost of storage is dropping so holding larger amounts of records is becoming more cost efficient.

Special Reports

Record Retention: Three (3) years after the date of the report.

Compliance, Supervisory & Procedures Manuals

Record Retention: Three (3) years after the termination of use of manual.

Exception Reports

Record Retention: Eighteen (18) months after the date the report was generated.

As you can see, certain documents require different retention policies. The longest period being six years – with the exception of the Organization documents. It’s our belief that Brokers should set their overall retention period for six (6) years. With Filetwin software, specific files can have specific retention periods set so you could create rules to match the above requirements, however, the SEC even recommends that files should be retained indefinitely. If you’d like to continue this conversation with one of our U.S. based Backup Specialists, please feel free to contact us 1 877 310-2884.

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Backup for FINRA and NASD

If you found this blog post from a Google search and are interested in learning more about record retention and online backup, then you’ve come to the right place. Chances are, you’re evaluating several vendors and so you should. FINRA and NASD must follow rules 17a-3 and 17a-4, however, these rules can be widely open to interpretation. For example, here’s a link from FINRA’s Assitant General Counsel explaining optical storage technology (“OST”) and its exclusive use. We’ve also included a link to the Office of the General Council at the S.E.C. in case you need more information after reading our Blog. Also, here’s the link to a PDF of the S.E.C. amendment to the Broker/Dealer Record Retention Rule.

So here’s a summary in simple to understand terms:

1. There was some confusion about the third party rule but the language in the requirement stating that the requirement applies to brokers/dealers “that use OST exclusively”, was not intended to imply that a broker/dealer would only need to have arrangements with a third party if it were using OST exclusively for all records.

If you use electronic storage or OST for only one category of records, then you must still satify the third party download provider requirement of the rule.

So whether you’re using OST for only one category OR for your entire office – you need to satisfy the requirement.

2. W.O.R.M. – This means WRITE ONCE; READ MANY. Basically, if you burn data to a CD and no one can erase or overwrite the content then you’ve satisfied the intent of this requirement.

Here’s the link to the Optical Storage Technology Association in case you want a better clarification or definition as to what OST really is.

In summary, we understand that these requirements and regulations can be a bit confusing so if you want to speak directly with someone who can help guide you through this maze of regulations, then please contact us directly at 1 877 310-2884. One of our Backup Specialists will be pleased to assist you. We are proud to report that our Sales and Support Teams are located in the U.S. Help revive our economy and keep your backups in America.

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FINRA and SEC Data Retention

As we conclude 2010, FINRA and the SEC will be introducing a few new requirements in 2011. We’ve blogged about the new encryption rule that FINRA mandates effective December 29th, 2010, but brokers, dealers and members such keep in mind that throughout the official regulations the retention guidelines are referenced several times.

In effect, important records need to be maintained for seven (7) years or longer if litigation is involved (add two (2) additional years). Mind you, if you read the regulations carefully, they suggest to keep files forever as a best practice. We’re sure if some companies keep paper copies of records then they wouldn’t want to follow this policy, but imagine if your office was paperless. Adhering to a best practice becomes easy. Going paperless is probably the bigger mountain to overcome. We offer document scanning services for those businesses who are looking to be more green in the coming years. Digitizing records is not an overnight project. In fact, it takes a little time and a strategic plan. We’ve worked with businesses who wanted to start out digital-only, we’ve seen companies convert before there was too much paper and we’ve seen large legal firms convert millions of pages to easily referenced digital copies.

Since most files are born-digital these days, we think there is some virtue in going paperless because now businesses can implement policies that wouldn’t have been considered several years ago. Not only are companies now able to act more intelligently but they can be socially responsible as well and we’ve found that one small step in the right direction is better than standing still.

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