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In FINRA Regulatory Notice 20-38, FINRA has adopted Rule 3241 to limit registered persons from holding “positions of trust” for clients. The new rule requires that registered persons have written approval from the member firm to act as a trustee, executor, or hold power of attorney for a client account.
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SEC Commissioner Considers Future ESG Investment Regulation

November 17, 2020 | Blog | By David L. Ward

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National Adjudicatory Council Revises FINRA Sanction Guidelines

November 2, 2020 | Blog | By David L. Ward

In FINRA Regulatory Notice 20-37, FINRA set forth revised Sanction Guidelines that became effective October 20, 2020.
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On October 14, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“ CFPB”) announced a series of organizational changes affecting the Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending Division (SEFL), the result of an organizational review that began in February of this year.
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You Can’t Always Get What You Want: The End of ESG Investing in ERISA Accounts

October 26, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Alyssa C. Scruggs

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With ESG, Things Aren’t Always As Green As They Seem

October 22, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Alyssa C. Scruggs

Environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) investing has captured the attention (and dollars) of more institutional investors each year and continues to grow exponentially. However, how can an ESG investor be sure that the investments it is making truly align with the values those funds purport to prioritize?
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On October 2, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service released final regulations providing guidance for Section 529A “qualified ABLE programs” established by states under the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (the “ABLE Act”) to provide tax-favored savings and investment accounts for individuals with disabilities.  Building on proposed regulations issued in 2015 and 2019 and several prior IRS notices as to how the final regulations would resolve specific issues under the ABLE Act, the final regulations clearly seek to avoid, within statutory constraints, imposing major administrative burdens on ABLE programs. Nonetheless, several key provisions contain ambiguities or raise concerns.  As indicated by prior IRS guidance, the regulations provide a transition period of at least two years for ABLE programs operating in good faith to implement provisions applicable to such programs, and thus an opportunity for the IRS address such ambiguities and concerns through notices or other guidance prior to their full implementation.
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FinCen Issues Statement Regarding Publication of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)

September 3, 2020 | Blog | By Eoin Beirne, Cory S. Flashner, Pete Michaels, Jason Burrell

On September 1, 2020, the Financial Crimes Network (“FinCEN”) issued a statement regarding various media outlets’ intent to publish Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”) and “other sensitive government documents”.
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Massachusetts Securities Division Begins Enforcement Of New State Fiduciary Conduct Standard

September 2, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, David L. Ward, Michael Pastore

On September 1, 2020, the Massachusetts Securities Division (“MSD”) began enforcing a new state regulation that holds all broker-dealers and their agents to a fiduciary conduct standard requiring them to “make recommendations and provide investment advice without regard to the financial or any other interest of any party other than the customer”.
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NASAA’s COVID-19 Task Force Uncovers Investment Scams Related to the Pandemic

August 26, 2020 | Blog | By David L. Ward, Jason Burrell

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the North America Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) put together a task force in April 2020 specifically targeted to use “online investigative techniques to identify websites and social media posts that may be offering or promoting fraudulent offerings, investment frauds, or improper unregistered regulated activities” which were related to any aspect of COVID-19.
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The landscape for foreclosures and evictions in New York State is constantly evolving. With the entire State of New York in Phase 4 of New York Forward, the courts have begun to reopen (at least virtually) and certain foreclosure proceedings have resumed. Eviction proceedings remain stayed as against those commercial and residential tenants who demonstrate COVID-related hardship.
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SEC Risk Alert Addresses COVID-19 Compliance Risks and Considerations

August 14, 2020 | Blog | By David L. Ward, Jason Burrell

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CFPB Solicits Assistance in Combatting Credit Discrimination

August 11, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Michael Pastore

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This advisory discusses the SEC’s approval of an NYSE waiver extension that gives NYSE-listed companies through September 30, 2020 to complete certain capital raising transactions.
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FINRA recently issued Regulatory Notice 20-17 (“Reg. Notice 20-17”) addressing changes to FINRA Rule 4530 due to the impending implementation of Regulation Best Interest (“Reg. BI”). Rule 4530 requires member firms to report, among other things, statistical and summary information regarding written customer complaints, as well as specified criminal actions, civil complaints and arbitration claims.
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On May 26, 2020, Mayor de Blasio signed into effect N.Y.C. Council Int. No. 1932-A (2020). The law amends NYC administrative code by rendering unenforceable provisions in commercial leases providing for personal guaranties by individuals where the tenant’s business was negatively impacted by COVID-19.
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