Updates are ordered in chronological order, top to bottom, from most recent to oldest.  RegEd has not included the date each update was issued so as to avoid confusion with other dates cited by issuing agencies.

State Activity

Developments from State Departments of Insurance and Securities as well as other state-based agencies.

Alabama | Licensing

The Alabama Department of Insurance has extended the waiver of continuing education proctoring requirements through the end of December, 2020.

 

Alabama | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Alabama Warns Investors to Be Aware of Uptick of Cybercrimes

 

Alabama | Licensing

The Alabama Department of Insurance has extended the waiver of continuing education proctoring requirements through the end of September, 2020.

 

Alabama | Securities | Illicit activities

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) announced its participation in the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, an international investor protection initiative to crack down on schemes related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The task force is coordinated by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which ASC is a member.

 

Alabama | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension

Alabama extends emergency order for temporary relief for disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and forced dislocations affecting broker-dealers, investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives to September 7, 2020.  This order temporarily grants relief for the following: Registration or filing relief for financial professionals; Relief from requirement to obtain physical signatures on Form U4; Relief from annual update filings and document delivery requirements by state-registered investment advisers.

 

Alabama | CE/licensing

The Alabama Department of Insurance has extended the waiver of continuing education exam proctoring requirements through the end of August 2020.
An initial application for licensure can still be expected to take approximately three weeks for review. The extension of prelicensing certification of completion expiration dates has not changed from the previous extension.

 

Alabama | Securities | Illicit activities

Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) Chief Deputy Amanda Senn testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy as a subject matter expert in financial crimes on June 16, 2020. Senn spoke on behalf of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA*) at the Cybercriminals and Fraudsters: How Bad Actors Are Exploiting the Financial System During the COVID-19 Pandemic hearing. Senn provided testimony on the rise of cyber financial schemes, how these scams are perpetrated, efforts undertaken by state securities agencies to protect the public and protection recommendations for vulnerable populations.

 

Alabama | Licensing Update

The Alabama Department of Insurance has extended the expiration dates for prelicensing certificates of completion past the stated expiration date on the certificate as follows:
Stated expiration date in March 2020: extended 120 days;
Stated expiration date in April or May 2020: extended 90 days;
Stated expiration date in June 2020: extended 60 days;
Stated expiration date in July 2020: extended 30 days.
All limitations on repeat examinations remain in effect.

CE: The waiver of examination proctoring requirements for self-study CE courses is extended through the end of July 2020.

 

Alabama | Securities | Regulatory relief extension

Alabama extends emergency order for temporary relief for disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and forced dislocations affecting broker-dealers, investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives to June 15, 2020
This order temporarily grants relief for the following: Registration or filing relief for financial professionals; Relief from requirement to obtain physical signatures on Form U4; Relief from annual update filings and document delivery requirements by state-registered investment advisers.

 

Alabama | Securities | Regulatory relief extension

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) issued an emergency Cease and Desist Order against Respondent, for attempting to prey on the fears of Alabama investors and exploit the global Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic for his own profit.
Respondent is Ordered to immediately cease and desist from further offers or sales of any security in or from Alabama.

 

Alabama | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) has gathered resources from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) that will help protect Alabamians from coronavirus con artists.

 

Alabama | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension

Alabama extends emergency order for temporary relief for disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and forced dislocations affecting broker-dealers, investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives to May 15, 2020
This order temporarily grants relief for the following: Registration or filing relief for financial professionals; Relief from requirement to obtain physical signatures on Form U4; Relief from annual update filings and document delivery requirements by state-registered investment advisers.

 

Alabama | Pre-licensing certificate extension

Alabama has extended the expiration date of a pre-licensing course certificate of completion set to expire in March, April, or May 2020, previously extended for 60 days, for an additional 30 days past its stated expiration date (for a total of 90 days ). The waiver of exam proctoring requirements for self-study CE courses is extended through May.

 

Alabama | Securities | Investor Education

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) offers tips on navigating the financial complexities caused by COVID-19; “I Can Navigate These Financial Storms.”

 

Alabama | DOI Office Closure 

The Alabama Department of Insurance will be teleworking until at least April 30, 2020.

 

Alabama | Securities | Investor Education

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) wants to make Alabama investors aware of free financial resources available on their website. The information contained in the materials addresses investors of all stages of life and can empower them in their pursuit of financial success, or restoring personal financial stability as many are experiencing during this difficult time. In addition, the ASC provides useful information to help citizens cope with the financial challenges caused by the pandemic.

 

Alabama | Securities | Pandemic-related Enforcement

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) urges investors to immediately discontinue all business transactions with the cryptocurrency cloud mining company and issued a Cease and Desist order (CD-2020-0007) to halt transactions with Alabama residents because their investments are allegedly fraudulent and not registered, and are not registered to engage in the transactions as required by Alabama Law.

The investments being offered relate to cryptocurrency mining operations. Investor funds are being solicited to purchase “mining plans”, which would purportedly lease computing power from cryptocurrency mining machines. To induce investors to buy the mining plans, Respondents promise unsubstantiated rates of return of 105% per year, which is impossible to achieve. Moreover, cryptocurrency mining operations require the latest innovations in technology to yield even a remote possibility of success. In other words, Respondents could not legitimately guarantee that they would achieve a reward to pay investors. Respondents website also makes the unsubstantiated claim that Respondents donated $100,000 to UNICEF to fight the Corona Virus (COVID-19).

The Texas State Securities Board has also issued an emergency cease and desist order outlining Respondents’ inflated investment returns and the fraudulent representation that they donated $100,000 to UNICEF for COVID-19 relief.

 

Alabama | Insurance Temp License

Alabama will issue temporary resident insurance producer licenses. The temporary producer must be sponsored and appointed by an insurance company. The license is valid for six months from the date of issuance. Pre-licensing, exam, and fingerprint requirement must be completed on or before the expiration date of the temporary license in order to convert it to a regular license.

 

Alabama | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.

 

Alabama | CE

Continuing Education Requirements; Classroom changed to Webinar: For courses approved as “Classroom,” CE Providers will be able to offer those approved courses as live webinars. To do so, the CE provider must first send a list of the courses they will offer as webinars, along with their webinar security information, to the Licensing Division. Continuing Education Requirements; Self-study Exam: For Self-Study CE courses, the Department will waive the examination proctoring requirement through the end of April. 2020

 

Alabama | Licensing

Alabama applicants should expect initial applications to take three weeks for review; the expiration date for prelicensing certificates of completion that expire in March or April 2020 is extended 60 days past the date on the certificate.  Use the online chat (9am-5pm) or email to get the fastest response from Producer Licensing Division – phone calls are only accepted in the mornings.

 

Alabama | Securities | Business Continuity Plan

The Alabama Securities Commission provides notice of ongoing developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).  The state is taking measures to limit  in-person contacts and state staff is teleworking.  They continue to process licenses and registrations and encourage communicating with the state through email.

 

Alabama | Illicit Activities

State warns to beware of virus-related scams.

 

Alabama | Insurance | Closures

The Alabama Department of Insurance (ALDOI) will implement a telework policy until Monday, April 6, in order to minimize employee exposure to COVID-19. For licensing renewal inquiries or questions about the producer licensing exam, email the ALDOI at producerlicensing@insurance.alabama.gov or call 334-241-4126.

 

Alabama | Form U4 Signature and Annual Update Filings 

Alabama has issued an emergency order providing virus-related temporary relief. This order provides relief on the requirement to obtain physical signatures as well as annual update filings and document delivery requirements by state-registered investment advisers.

Alaska | Securities | Illicit activities, financial exploitation

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, the Alaska Division of Banking and Securities reminds financial professionals and the public throughout Alaska that heightened isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for senior financial exploitation.
While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

 

Alaska | Securities | Reporting Requirements

Effective March 15, 2020, all due dates for required reporting to the Division of Banking and Securities are extended 45 days to reduce regulatory burden during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Arizona | Exam

Arizona and Prometric are planning are reopening most examination centers with reduced capacity on May 31. Provisional license holders should contact Prometric to make an appoint to take the exam.

 

Arizona | Temporary Licensing

Provisional licensing is now available for producers, adjusters and surplus lines brokers.

 

Arizona | Temporary Licensing

Effective April 17th, AZ will be issuing temporary licenses for resident producers who have met all license requirements other than passing the exam and completing fingerprints.  The temporary licenses will expire six months after the date of issuance.  Once prelicensing, exams and fingerprints are made available, the DOI will notify each license holder. They will have 20 days to pass the exam and 30 days to complete fingerprints.  Once completed, the temporary licenses will be automatically converted into permanent licenses.

 

Arizona | CE

All providers will be allowed to deliver currently approved classroom courses via webinar without having to refile.  Providers will be required to submit a request to Prometric with the course information and a detailed explanation about how attendance will be monitored.  Proctor requirements are still in place.  The use of tools such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other similar products will be allowed for remote proctoring.

 

Arizona | Licensing, CE

Fully operational; complete CE/renewal requirements.

 

Arizona | Courses

For self-study courses, Insurance Professionals must pass an open-book or closed-book exam (at the discretion of the provider) monitored by the provider director or a person appointed by the provider director who is either an Arizona-licensed insurance producer or a person in the business of administering education or examinations. The proctoring may be done remotely, through applications like Skype, Facetime, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc. For more information,

CE providers may contact Prometric at pro.ce-services@prometric.com.
Licensees may contact the Department of Insurance at licensing@azinsurance.gov, or 602-364-4457

Arkansas | Extension of COVID-19 Bulletins

The Arkansas Insurance Department has issued an extension of several bulletins that were issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notably, the provisions of Bulletin 22-2020 are being extended for the duration of the current public health and disaster emergency period. Arkansas Insurance Department Bulletin 22-2020 extends the continuing education requirement due date to July 1, 2020.

 

Arkansas | License & CE Extensions

The Arkansas Insurance Department has announced that license renewals have been extended and individual producer licenses will not be converted to inactive status for the 45-day period beginning with the date Arkansas Executive Order 20-25, extending the Arkansas state of emergency, was issued (May 5, 2020).
All continuing education hours required to be completed will not be due until July 1, 2020.

 

Arkansas | Extending License Expiration Dates

Effective April 30, 2020 Arkansas will change all April 30, 2020 license expiration dates to June 30, 2020.

 

Arkansas | PDB Updates

Effective April 1, 2020 Arkansas will change all March 31, 2020 license expiration dates to May 31, 2020. 

 

Arkansas | License Renewal, CE

The Arkansas Insurance Department has announced that license renewals have been extended and individual producer & adjuster licenses will not be converted to inactive status for the 60 day period beginning with the date of Executive Order 20-03 (March 11, 2020).

All continuing education hours required to be completed will not be due until May 15, 2020.

 

Arkansas | Licensing, CE

The Insurance Department is granting a 60-day grace period in which a license will not be converted to inactive for failure to submit renewal application or fees. Any continuing education will not be due until May 15, 2020.

California | License Exam

California has announced the CDI exam testing center in Los Angeles will be open for testing on a daily basis. In addition, PSI exam testing centers will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Sacramento, Redding, Lawndale, San Francisco, and Agoura Hills.

 

California | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Filing & Signatory Requirements

On March 4, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the state of emergency, the Department of Business Oversight (“Department”), pursuant to its authority under Financial Code section 334 and Corporations Code section 25610, issues this guidance to broker-dealers and investment advisers licensed under the Corporate Securities Law of 1968.

  • 45-Day Extension to File Notice of Changes, Form PF, Annual Report, and Interim Report
  • Temporary Relief from FINRA Rule 1010(c)’s Manual Signature Requirement for Form U4 Filings
  • Licensees’ Retention of a Copy of this Guidance in their Records
  • Essential Services

 

California | Licensing

California issues guidance on “essential business” and encourages all insurance businesses to continue to provide as many core insurance functions as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic while balancing the protection of the health or safety of their employees and other workers. Any insurance employee or worker continuing to perform core insurance functions during the pandemic should be encouraged to work remotely when possible, comply with social distancing requirements to the extent possible if in-person functions are necessary, and focus only on core insurance activities and functions. It is encouraged that in-person, non-mandatory activities deemed non-essential should be delayed, if possible, until the resumption of normal operations.

 

California | Insurance | Closures

As of March 18, 2020, the CA DOI will be teleworking.  A limited skeleton crew will be in the office. The licensing hotline has been shut down.  Work is still being processed.

Colorado | Insurance Licensing 

The Colorado Division of Insurance is providing sixty days’ notice of compliance requirements to licensees affected by COVID-19 waivers. Licensees must come into compliance with all licensing requirements, including license renewal, continuing education, and licensing fees, by December 31, 2020. The waiver of continuing education proctor requirements will also terminate December 31, 2020.

 

Colorado | CE

Proctoring Requirements
Effective December 31, 2020, the proctoring requirements contained in Colorado Insurance
Regulation 1-2-4, Section (5)(c)(1)(d) are no longer waived and must be satisfied

 

Colorado | License Renewal 

The Colorado Division of Insurance will extend the late renewal period for licenses with expiration dates of March 31, 2020, and later, until December 10, 2020, with no additional fees. This applies to individuals and business entities of all license classes.

 

Colorado | Temporary licensing update

The Colorado Division of Insurance has extended the issuance of temporary insurance producer licenses. All temporary producer licenses will expire on November 6, 2020. Applicants can obtain a full license by meeting all applicable licensing requirements.

 

Colorado | Securities | Illicit activities, financial exploitation

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) in the month of June, Colorado Securities Commissioner Tung Chan and Division of Securities, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), remind financial professionals and the public throughout Colorado that heightened isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for senior financial exploitation.
While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

 

Colorado | Securities | Illicit activity

The Colorado Division of Securities, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), is warning the public that there has been an increase in investment schemes luring people to invest based on false promises that a company has produced an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Other scams include solicitations for investments in companies falsely promising to make a profit on N95 masks, other scarce medical protective equipment, ventilators, and test kits. These companies often promise big returns.

 

Colorado | Temporary Licensing 

The Colorado Division of Insurance will issue temporary insurance producer licenses beginning May 13, 2020, without requiring an exam, to otherwise qualified applicants, subject to the following terms and conditions.
The applicant must complete any required pre-licensing education.
The applicant must be sponsored by an insurer or Colorado-licensed producer in good standing. The applicant must be appointed by the insurer, but is not required to be an employee. The appointment will be valid as long as the temporary license is valid. A temporary producer licensee may hold an appointment with only one sponsoring insurer.
The sponsor must submit an application via Sircon on behalf of the individual seeking temporary licensure. The license will be valid for 180 days from issuance, and can be converted to a permanent license by completion of all prerequisites of a license, including any required examination, within the 180 days. No additional fee will be required.

 

Colorado | Securities | Paycheck Protection Program

The Colorado Division of Securities within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is providing guidance to State-licensed Investment Advisers (Advisers) who received or are considering applying for a forgivable loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

 

Colorado | Exam Availability

The Colorado Division of Insurance announced that its licensing vendor, Pearson VUE, is opening its test centers at 50% capacity, effective May 1, 2020. Additional third party testing centers are also available. Details and scheduling information are provided on the Pearson VUE website.

 

Colorado | CE

Colorado has waived the proctoring requirements for CE courses contained in Colorado Insurance Regulation 1-2-4 Section (5)(c)(1)(d) are until otherwise ordered by the Commissioner. Emergency license continuation on a temporary basis for licensed insurance producers. has also been granted for 60 days.

 

Colorado | License, CE

Colorado has temporarily continued all license renewal deadlines and the associated procedures (including continuing education requirements and licensing fees) for resident and nonresident insurance producers and agencies. The continuation will remain in effect until further notice, and producers will have 60 days’ notice to come into compliance before its expiration. In addition, continuing education proctor requirements are waived until further notice.

 

Colorado | Securities | Registration

The Colorado Securities Commissioner has issued a temporary licensing relief for registrants affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This relief relates to registration, filings, physical signatures and annual update filings by investment advisers.

Connecticut | Temporary licensing update

The Connecticut Insurance Department announced that it will cease issuing temporary insurance producer licenses on August 13, 2020. All applications received on or after August 13 will not be processed until the required examination has been successfully passed.

 

Connecticut | Temporary Producer License

Connecticut will issue temporary resident insurance producer licenses without requiring an examination, to otherwise qualified applicants. The license will be issued for a period of 180 days and is not renewable.

 

Connecticut | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Investment Company Filers

As a result of the recent pandemic, many staffers in the Securities and Business Investments Division of the State of Connecticut Department of Banking will be working remotely and will not be physically present in the office. While this may cause some delays with our processing of filings, we will make every effort to limit them.  As an accommodation to investment company filers and for the foreseeable future, the Division is giving you the option of making your filings and payments electronically. This approach will be reassessed once normal functions resume.

 

Connecticut | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Security Filers

As a result of the recent pandemic, many staffers in the Securities and Business Investments Division of the State of Connecticut Department of Banking will be working remotely and will not be physically present in the office. While this may cause some delays with our processing of filings, we will make every effort to limit them.

As an accommodation to securities registration, exemption and covered security filers (as well as business opportunity registration filers) and for the foreseeable future, the Division is giving you the option of making your filings and payments electronically. This approach will be reassessed once normal functions resume.

 

Connecticut | PDB Updates

Connecticut will extend the renewal period for resident and non-resident Insurance Producers that have expiration dates in March, April and May 2020.  

 

Connecticut | Licensing

Connecticut is extending the renewal period for producer licenses that expire in March, April, and May, 2020, to June 30, 2020. April and May licenses will not be able to submit a renewal until April 2, 2020.

 

Connecticut | Licensing

Licenses expiring between 3/24/20-5/31/20 will be extended to 6/30/20. CE same.

 

Connecticut | Continuing Education

The proctor requirements for Connecticut are still in place. The use of tools such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other similar products will be allowed for remote proctoring.

 

Connecticut | CE Providers

All providers will be allowed to deliver currently approved classroom courses via webinar without having to refile.  However providers will be required to submit a request to Prometric with the course information and detailed explanation about how attendance will be monitored. These requests must be submitted to CESupportTeam@Prometric.com with the subject line, Connecticut COVID-19 Conversion Request: (Provider ID).  Please include the course names and numbers in the body of the email.

 

Connecticut | Insurance | Closures

The office is closed to public. Services are available by email/telephone.

Delaware | Exam & Temporary Licensing Update

The Delaware Department of Insurance has announced that its exam vendor, Pearson Vue, has contracted with a third-party vendor to provide licensee examination services in settings that are large enough for applicants to take the examination in-person but in accordance with social distancing guidelines. As a result, temporary licensees should note the following:
• As of June 30, 2020 the Department will no longer issue temporary licenses.
• All temporary licenses shall lapse on September 30, 2020. Temporary licensees who wish to remain licensed must take the applicable examination before September 30, 2020.

 

Delaware | Securities | Regulatory Relief

Delaware Investor Protection Director issues Order granting temporary relief to Financial Professions in certain circumstances to enable the continuation of business during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Registration or Filing Relief
  • Relief from Requirement to Obtain Physical Signatures on Forms U4
  • Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State Registered Investment Advisers
  • Reliance on Records

This Order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until May 15, 2020 unless extended or rescinded.

 

Delaware | Licensing

Delaware will issue temporary producer, adjuster, and surplus lines broker licenses. The applicant will have 90 days from the date Pearson Vue is back in operation to complete their exam, and must provide a background check and a Letter of Responsibility from an active licensee. If a statewide shutdown prevents applicants from obtaining a background check, the Producer Licensing section will no longer issue temporary licenses.

District of Columbia | Securities | FAQs

Washington DC provides responses to frequently asked questions about the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the administration of the securities laws and regulations of the District of Columbia, including the District’s healthy emergency extension through May 15, 2020.

 

District of Columbia | License Extension

District of Columbia is updating renewal dates. April 30 renewal dates will expire June 30. Licenses not renewed on March 31 will have until May 31 to renew.

 

District of Columbia | CE

The District of Columbia has waived the disinterested 3rd party of the proctor.  Agents can now they can use a family member as a proctor.

 

District of Columbia | Securities | Illicit Activity

The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) warns consumers to be on the alert for 2020 Census scams.

 

District of Columbia | Insurance | Closures

The Department is currently conducting business via telework and will not be able to address consumer issues in person.

Florida | Licensing

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, effective, April 17, 2020, Florida will begin issuing the following resident temporary producer licenses: Temporary Life and Variable Annuity Contracts, Temporary Health and Temporary Personal Lines.
The applicant must be a Florida resident. Passage of the state licensing examination is not required, but all other qualifications for the licenses are required, including fingerprints and prelicensing courses. The temporary license applications can only be submitted through the applicant’s individual MyProfile account. Appointments are still required. Appointments can be submitted through the Department’s eAppoint system. The noted temporary licenses will expire six (6) months after the date of issuance, or upon issuance of a permanent license of the same type and class, whichever occurs first.

 

Florida | Securities | General Announcement

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) has provided an update regarding the OFR Division of Securities’ business operations and precautions that we’re taking during this time to protect the health and safety of our employees and licensees.

While OFR locations are closed to the public, our employees are teleworking and we’re open for business. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (850) 487-9687 or visit us online, www.flofr.com. Florida’s securities businesses and professionals in Florida are working for you. OFR will continue to communicate with state and federal agencies and the financial services industry regarding the latest developments.

 

Florida | Producers & Adjusters

The Florida Division of Insurance has released information regarding COVID-19 and Business Operations of their staff. Please review the notice that is available on the Florida Division of Insurance website:
https://myfloridacfo.com/Division/Agents/covid19.htm
Additionally, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has released an informational memorandum detailing guidance for business continuity for all companies regulated by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation: https://www.floir.com/siteDocuments/OIR-20-03M.pdf

 

Florida | Closures

State examination testing locations are closed until April 16th, or whenever conditions are deemed safe to reopen.  Fingerprinting locations are closing throughout the state.  During this time, Florida is continuing to process license applications. Where license applications require fingerprint or exam results the state will not be able to process the application completely.  Florida strongly encourages individuals to upload documents via the MyProfile instead of emailing the DOI directly.

 

Florida | Securities | Branch Filing Requirements

FL declares state of emergency through Executive Order authorizing suspension of the notice-filing requirements for BD/IA branch office locations.  BDs/IAs relocating to temporary locations that are not currently notice-filed should use best efforts to provide written notification via email to the OFR, Division of Securities ASAP, but not later than 5 days after relocating.  Email address to communicate to is: OFRSecurities@flofr.com. Include temporary address, the entities involved, names of registered personnel working there and a contact telephone number.

Georgia | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension

The following Relief Orders issued by the Commissioner are extended through October 31, 2020 unless modified, vacated or superseded:
1. Order Granting Relief From Fingerprint Filing Requirements dated March 16, 2020;
2. Order Implementing Investment Adviser Annual Update Amendment to Form ADV Deadline in Response to COVID-19 dated March 17, 2020; and
3. Order Implementing Filing Requirements in Response to COVID-19 dated March 24, 2020

 

Georgia | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is warning Georgia’s licensees to be wary of individuals who may threaten to have their licenses revoked in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Professional Licensing Boards Division, part of the Office of the Secretary of State, has received reports of threats against the rightfully earned licenses of Georgians facing financial hardship due to COVID-19-related economic turbulence. Georgia licensees need to be aware of their rights provided under Georgia law.

 

Georgia | CE

The Georgia Insurance Commissioner has extended the in-person continuing education waiver from April 30 to May 31, 2020.

 

Georgia | Securities | Registration of Securities

Georgia issues order implementing filing requirement in response to virus.  Filers and registrants required to make a filing pursuant to O.C.G.A. 10-5-21, 10-5-22 and 10-5-23 are required to electronically filings using NASAA’s Electronic Filing Depository (EFD) or Seamless Docs on the Commissioner’s website.  If filers or registrants are unable to meet filing requirements, they must contact the state via email at registrations@sos.ga.gov to coordinate potential relief specific to the filer or registrant.

 

Georgia | Securities | Illicit Activity

The Securities and Charities Division of the Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia is issuing this Investor Alert to warn people about investment frauds promoted by con artists during this coronavirus pandemic.

 

Georgia | Licensing, CE

Applicants unable to complete test should compile all other documentation and submit it for a license. After test centers open, DOI will be able to process quickly.

 

Georgia | Securities | Virtual Meetings

Georgia clarified shareholder meeting requirements for Georgia businesses who are struggling under the threat of COVID-19. Memo explains that requirements under Georgia law for profit and nonprofit corporations to hold annual shareholder meetings allow for virtual meetings. This provides relief to corporations trying to balance their responsibilities to their shareholders, their obligation to follow the law, and the new restrictions implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19.

 

Georgia | Fingerprint Requirements

The GA Commissioner of Securities has extended temporary relief from fingerprint filing requirements for registrants where conditions prevent them from meeting filing deadlines or delivery requirements. An email (registrations@sos.ga.gov) must be sent to the state advising the registrant is relying on this order, briefly describe reasons why prints can’t be provided and an estimated date by which it expects to file or deliver the prints.  Prints must be filed as soon as practical, but not later than June 30, 2020.

 

Georgia | Continuing Education

Georgia is waiving in person Continuing Education requirements through at least April 30, 2020. Agents should apply for renewal even if their continuing education requirements are not met.

 

Georgia | Insurance | Closures

The Office of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner will temporarily not be accepting walk-in appointments to our office from consumers.

 

Georgia | Form ADV Extension

Georgia has extended the annual Form ADV filing requirement to April 30, 2020.

Hawaii | Insurance licensing 

The Hawaii Insurance Commissioner has issued an extension of several Memoranda issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the provisions of Memorandum 2020-1LIC (relating to all new, renewing, and reactivating licenses) and Memorandum 2020-5LIC (relating to workers’ compensation adjuster license exams and license status) have been extended indefinitely.

 

Hawaii | License Renewal Extension 

The Hawaii Insurance Division is extending workers’ compensation adjuster licenses subject to renewal on and after June 16, 2020, past the stated renewal date and until examinations are made available. Licensees who are required to take and pass an examination for June 16 or later renewal must pay required fees on time and submit a written statement that exam requirements have not been met due to the unavailability of testing by Pearson Vue. Licensees must take the examination within 45 days from the date testing is made available. Renewal fees may be submitted via USPS or an express service (FedEx or UPS). The receipt date of the document will be the earlier of the postmark stamp on the envelope or the date the Division receives the document.

 

Hawaii | DOI Office Closure 

The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs announced that its offices are closed to the public through May 31 or until further notice. Contact the Department with any questions at insurance@dcca.hawaii.gov.

 

Hawaii | Securities | Illicit Activities Warning

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Office of the Securities Commissioner is reminding Hawaii investors to be vigilant and wary of scammers who may seek to capitalize on the financial devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, using fear and emotions to try and take your hard-earned money.

We anticipate a surge in fraudulent investment schemes and urge investors to protect themselves and their loved ones from being financially victimized during this global public health crisis.

 

Hawaii | CE

Hawaii is temporarily allowing Classroom Courses to be taught via Webinar.

1. CE providers may offer webinar/live-stream presentations and do NOT need to submit new filings reflecting webinar/live-stream presentations.
2. CE provider must submit a written request to the Commissioner/Licensing Branch with the following info:

a. Include an addendum to their course filing stating webinar/live-stream presentation is an additional format they are offering
b. Request a waiver of the 60-day period in HRS section 431:9A-153(d) in order to offer the additional format immediately
c. Request for waiver is made in response to COVID-19 and related difficulties in providing services/courses to currently licensed producers.

 

Hawaii | Closures

Office closed until at least 4/6/20.  Staff working remotely.

 

Hawaii | Producer and Surplus Applications

Producer and Surplus lines broker applicants can use online application and renewal methods. Reactivation within two years of inactivation must be submitted via paper. Current licensees encouraged to renew up to 90 days before expiration. Supporting documents can be sent by mail.

 

Hawaii | Workers’ Compensation Adjuster License Renewal

Due to the Pearson VUE temporary closure and suspension of testing for licenses until April 16, 2020 licenses will be extended through April 16th until examinations are made available again. Licensees who are required to take and pass an exam for an April 16 renewal date must pay fees timely and submit a written explantion that the examination requirement has not been met due to the unavailability of testing by Pearson VUE. Licensees must take the examination within 45 days from the date that the testing is made available again.

Renewal fees may be submitted via mail and the receipt date of the fees will be the postmark or the date the Division receives the document, whichever is earlier.

Idaho | Temporary License

​In light of the pandemic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, the Idaho Department of Insurance will issue a provisional license for adjusters that will be valid for up to six months. Provisional adjuster licenses do not renew automatically at the end of the license period, but a holder of a provisional adjuster license may apply for a permanent adjuster license.

Applicants for a provisional adjuster license must take and pass an alternative exam and obtain a suitable sponsor.

 

Idaho | Licensing

The Idaho Department of Insurance, Licensing Services Division, has posted a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in regards to producer licensing processing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Idaho | Licensing

Idaho will issue a provisional producer’s license, valid for six months, to individuals who have not completed fingerprinting. Those individuals will be required to take and pass an alternative exam and have a sponsor.

 

Idaho | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Form ADV

Idaho issues order providing temporary relief to Investment Adviser and Broker-Dealer Operations and Securities Issuers Filing Disruptions Resulting from Coronavirus:

  • Registration or Filing Relief
  • Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State-Registered Investment Advisers

Illinois | Education & Temporary Licensing

The Illinois Department of Insurance has added COVID-19 related producer updates regarding in-person education and temporary licensing to their website:
• Executive Order No. 2020-55 re-issues Executive Order 2020-29 in its entirety through October 17, 2020. Executive Order 2020-29 suspended certain provisions in the Illinois Insurance Code that required in-person education and/or exams within a certain time frame in order to maintain or obtain a professional insurance license.

 

Illinois | Producer Licensing Updates

The Illinois Department of Insurance has added COVID-19 related producer updates regarding in-person education and temporary licensing to their website:
• Executive Order No. 2020-48 extends Executive Order 2020-29 through August 22, 2020. Executive Order 2020-29 suspended certain provisions in the Illinois Insurance Code that required in-person education and/or exams within a certain time frame in order to maintain or obtain a professional insurance license.
• On August 23, 2020, all temporary licenses that are more than 90 days old will be canceled, pursuant to Executive Order 2020-48.
• On August 23, 2020, the Department will no longer allow webinars for pre-licensing.
Licensees that have not completed the licensing process before August 23, 2020, will be required to complete the in-person classroom portion of pre-licensing again.

 

Illinois | Exam Requirement Extension

Effective immediately, Illinois will be updating the maximum length of time between passing multi-part exams from 90 to 180 days for the Insurance Producer license.
In addition, no Temporary Producer licenses will expire from March 17, 2020 until the COVID-19 emergency order is lifted. If a previous Temporary Producer license was inactivated, it will be re-activated by the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Indiana | License Renewal Extension

Due to the public health emergency declared as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Indiana will be further extending license renewal and continuing education deadlines to June 30, 2020. Outstanding license renewal applications and/or continuing education (CE) requirements that were due on March 31, 2020, April 30, 2020 or May 31, 2020 are now due on June 30, 2020. The new license expiration dates and CE due dates will be reflected online by June 30, 2020.

 

Indiana | License & CE Extensions

The Indiana Department of Insurance has provided an update regarding producer and adjuster license expiration dates.
License expiration dates within the declared public health emergency in Indiana will be extended to June 4, 2020. Outstanding license renewal applications and/or continuing education (CE) requirements that were due on March 31, 2020, April 30, 2020 or May 31, 2020 are now due on June 4, 2020. The new license expiration dates and CE due dates will be reflected online on May 31, 2020.

 

Indiana | License Exams

In response to the closing of testing sites due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Indiana Department of Insurance, (IDOI), license candidates needing to take an exam when required exam documentation (i.e., course completion certificate, IDOI waiver, IDOI certificate of testing eligibility) expired between the closing of testing sites (March 16, 2020) and the reopening of testing sites (current reopening target date is May 1, 2020), will have 90 days from the date of reopening to take an exam with the same, expired documentation (EOB July 30, 2020). Candidates may continue to schedule exams online.

 

Indiana | License/CE Renewal

Due to the public health emergency declared as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Indiana will be further extending license renewal and continuing education deadlines to June 22, 2020. Outstanding license renewal applications and/or continuing education (CE) requirements that were due on March 31, 2020 or April 30, 2020 are now due on June 22, 2020. The new license expiration dates and CE due dates will be reflected online on April 30, 2020.

 

Indiana | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Fingerprinting

In response to Governor Holcomb’s COVID-19 Stay at Home Executive Order, the Indiana State Police Department has temporarily suspended obtaining certain fingerprint-based criminal history reports, including those sought by applicants seeking to register with the Division as investment adviser representatives pursuant to I.C. § 23-19-4-6(c) (2019).

As a result, the Commissioner has issued Administrative Order 20-0011 AO, which provides that the Division may approve an application for registration as an investment adviser representative so long as the applicant submits fingerprints as soon as is practicable, but not after June 30, 2020. The Division retains all rights to re-evaluate registrations issued after receipt of an individual’s criminal background check and/or revoke a registration in an instance where an individual fails to submit fingerprints within the extended timeframe.

The relief applies to investment adviser representative applications received March 1, 2020 through April 30, 2020.

 

Indiana | License, CE

Indiana is expanding license renewal and continuing education deadlines for 60 days. Licenses that should have expired on March 31, 2020 will now expire on May 30, 2020.  Prelicensing certificates will expire 90 days after the reopening of examination.

 

Indiana | Licensing

In response to the closing of testing sites due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, IDOI license candidates needing to take an exam whose required exam documentation (i.e., course completion certificate, IDOI waiver, IDOI certificate of testing eligibility) expired between the closing of testing sites (March 16, 2020) and the reopening of testing sites (current reopening target date is April 16, 2020), will have 90 days from the date of reopening to take an exam with the same, expired documentation (EOB July 14, 2020).  Candidates may continue to schedule exams online.

 

Indiana | Closures

Indiana DOI staff is working remotely. Applications submitted via paper/mail/staff may experience significant processing times.

Iowa | Securities | Illicit activities, financial exploitation

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the Iowa Insurance Division reminds Iowans that heightened isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for senior financial exploitation.
While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

 

Iowa | Extension of Temporary Producer Licensing

The Iowa Insurance Division has issued a bulletin outlining the extension of temporary insurance producer licenses to June 30, 2020.

 

Iowa | Temp License

Iowa will issue temporary producer licenses until at least June 1, 2020. The temporary license will expire on the last day of the third full month following the date of license issuance. An Iowa licensed resident producer in good standing must supervise the business of the individual.

 

Iowa | PDB Updates

The Iowa Insurance Division will be extending March, April, and May 2020 expiration dates by 90 days, for resident and non-resident licensees, to extend their renewal period. The new expiration date will be updated on the Producer Database (PDB) and will cause PDB alerts. In order to allow maximum amount of time to renew the license, the new expiration date will not reflect on PDB until the day after the original expiration date. Please see example below. After the transaction is processed and renewed the new expiration date will reflect the original renewal day and month with new expiration year. 

Example: Expiration date is March 31, 2020 and license can be renewed up to 90 days prior to this date. This license will be extended by 90 days after expiration date to allow a renewal period extension for a total of 180 days. If the license is not renewed by the original expiration date, on April 1, 2020 the Producer Database (PDB) will display the license as active and new expiration date of June 30, 2020.

 

Iowa | CE

As a result of the declared state of emergency, the Iowa Division of Insurance is waiving any classroom or proctor requirements for continuing education. All continuing education requirements may be met by completing self-study or classroom equivalent courses.

 

Iowa | Licensing, CE

The Insurance Department has waived classroom method and proctor requirements for continuing education until further notice. Licenses that are not timely renewed will not expire during the Governor’s Emergency Declaration; however, the Department is fully operational and able to process applications and renewals.

 

Iowa | Licensing

Iowa has waived classroom method requirement and proctor requirements for CE until further notice. CE requirements can be met by completing self-study courses or classroom equivalent webinars. Producer license renewals may continue to be timely renewed online up to 90 days in advance.

 

Iowa | Continuing Education

Iowa will be waiving the classroom method of instruction requirement for continuing education through the end of August 2020.

Kansas | License renewal/CE

The Kansas Insurance Department has begun sending suspension notices for licenses that were not timely renewed during the COVID-19 crisis. If someone receives a suspension notice where the termination date has passed or is coming up soon, and they would like to renew, they should contact the Kansas Insurance Department.

 

Kansas | DOI Operations

The Kansas Insurance Department has updated its COVID-19 FAQ document, which includes information on testing center availability and instructions for how to obtain fingerprints. The document is available on the KID website.

 

Kansas | Securities | General Announcement

Kansas issues Updated FAQs to assist with questions regarding securities licensing. Questions and answers relate to processing applications, submitting documentation electronically, deadline for state-registered investment adviser to file Form ADV amendments, and who to contact regarding questions related to registration matters for securities, broker-dealers and investment advisers.

 

Kansas | Licensing

The Kansas Insurance Department has authorized its exam vendor, Pearson Vue, to begin using a third-party vendor still operating to administer Kansas insurance exams at some locations. Applicants should schedule their exam using the normal process on the Pearson Vue website, and check with their local law enforcement offices or private businesses for fingerprinting services.

 

Kansas | Securities | Regulatory relief, Registration and Form ADV

Kansas issues Updated FAQs to assist with questions regarding securities licensing & COVID-19. Questions and answers relate to processing applications, submitting documentation electronically, deadline for state-registered investment adviser to file Form ADV amendments, and who to contact regarding questions related to registration matters for securities, broker-dealers and investment advisers.

 

Kansas | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Kansas warns investors to beware of scams in light of the coronavirus.

 

Kansas | Securities | Registration

Kansas issues FAQs to assist with questions regarding securities licensing. Questions and answers relate to processing applications, submitting documentation electronically, deadline for state-registered investment adviser to file Form ADV amendments, and who to contact regarding questions related to registration matters for securities, broker-dealers and investment advisers.

 

Kansas | Licensing, CE

No suspension of licensing requirements; no auto license suspension.

 

Kansas | Renewal, CE 

CE extension granted on case-by-case basis. Individual producer must submit written request explaining situation and hardship, to be reviewed by staff. Applicants are encouraged not to wait until end of renewal period to meet their required hours for renewal.

 

Kansas | Insurance | Closures

Department employees are working remotely. Producers should expect processing delays. Additionally, fingerprint locations are closed.

 

Kansas | Courses

The Kansas Department is not waiving the requirement to have a proctor for a self-study course. However, they are allowing virtual examination monitors as long as the monitors meet the criteria outlined in K.A.R. 40-7-20a:
https://insurance.ks.gov/documents/department/regulations-adopted/article-7/40-7-20a.pdf

Kentucky | Investor Advisory

The Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions(DFI), along with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)and FINRA have joined to encourage investors to proceed cautiously with new investment opportunities considering the potential for fraudsters to take advantage of the buzz surrounding companies promoting products and services related to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Kentucky | Exam and Temp license

Kentucky has announced insurance examinations will resume at the Frankfort Office on June 15, 2020 with only 10 seats available each day. Exam appointments may be made through Kentucky eServices.

Effective 4:30 pm EDT, July 31, 2020 Kentucky will no longer issue temporary agent licenses due to Covid-19.

 

Kentucky | Temp License

Kentucky has issued a guidance letter on the issuance of temporary resident agent licenses to individuals without examination. The temporary license will be issued for 180 days and will not be renewed, but may be extended. The temporary license will automatically expire 60 days after Executive Order 2020-257 is lifted. The applicant must not have failed a Kentucky examination within the last 12 months and receive a sponsoring appointment.

 

Kentucky | Securities | Regulatory Relief

Kentucky Issues temporary relief for registrants affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak relating to physical signatures, filing requirements and enforcement.

 

Kentucky | CE

The Kentucky Department of Insurance has extended the deadline for completion of CE for March and April licensees. Those with a March 31, 2020 deadline now have until May 31, 2020. Those with an April 30, 2020 deadline now have until June 30, 2020. This does not extend license renewal deadlines, which are completed electronically and currently have a 60-day grace period.

 

Kentucky | Continuing Education

Kentucky will be extending Continuing education completion dates. Those who are set to renew on March 31 will have until May 31, 2020 and those set to renew on April 30 will have until June 30, 2020 to complete. License renewal dates are not extended as they currently have a 60 day grace period.

Louisiana | Updates to Temporary Licensing

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin outlining updates regarding temporary licensing for insurance producers.
The issuance of temporary licenses has ceased as of May 31, 2020. Existing temporary licensees may request an extension of the expiration date of a temporary license by sending an email to producerlicensing@ldi.la.gov.

 

Louisiana | Securities | Illicit activity

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption and anxiety to individuals and the financial markets. Because fraudsters often try to capitalize on current issues and problems to promote their scams, NASAA is issuing this updated investor alert (published originally in 2013) on exempt securities offerings, also known as “private placements,” in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Louisiana | Extension of License Renewal Date

Louisiana has issued Emergency Rule 44 which provides for the extension of renewal dates for licenses of insurance producers and adjusters who have been negatively impacted by the related commercial and economic impacts of COVID-19.

Emergency Rule 44 applies to insurance producer and adjuster licenses with an expiration date of April 30, 2020. Any applicant that has an April 30, 2020 expiration date will now be assigned a May 12, 2020 expiration date.

After this renewal cycle, these licenses will be assigned their normal expiration date of April 30, 2022.

 

Louisiana | Emergency Declaration Regarding Temporary Licensing of Adjusters

The Louisiana Department of Insurance has issued Emergency Rule 43 which establishes a procedure for qualified individuals to obtain a temporary adjuster license. A temporary license may be converted to a permanent license by completion of all license requirements, including submission of fingerprints and passage of the appropriate exam prior to the expiration of the temporary license.

All temporary licenses issued pursuant to Emergency Rule 43 will expire on May 15, 2020 unless the term is extended by order of the Commissioner of Insurance.

 

Louisiana | Licensing

Louisiana has established a procedure for qualified individuals to obtain a temporary producer license, which can be converted to a permanent license by completion of all license requirements, including submission of fingerprints and passage of the appropriate exam.

 

Louisiana | Closures

Louisiana DOI offices are closed to he public.  Non-essential employees are working from home.

Maine | Securities | Update

Maine Securities Administrator, Judith Shaw issued two orders extending COVID-19 related regulatory relief:

Order No. 2020-44 extends Order No. 2020-11 addressing disruptions in investment advisor and broker-dealer operations and securities registrations resulting from pandemic.

Order No. 2020-45 pertains to the resumption of on-site broker-dealer inspections of branch offices in Maine.

 

Maine | Securities | Extension of Relief

The Maine Securities Commissioner has ordered an extension to regulatory relief described in Order No. 2020-11 until July 31, 2020 unless subsequently modified, extended or rescinded.  Conditional regulatory relief applies to certain licensing and filing requirement exemptions.

 

Maine | Temp License

Maine will immediately begin issuing temporary producer licenses to applicants who otherwise meet the requirements for licensure without requiring a licensing examination. Applications should be mailed, emailed or faxed to the Maine Bureau of Insurance. Each temporary license must have a licensed sponsor and an appointment with both sponsor and authorized insurer. The temporary license will expire the earlier of 180 days after issuance or 90 days after examination facilities reopen.

 

Maine | Licensing, CE

The Maine Bureau of Insurance has announced that resident producers whose CE compliance period expires March 31 or April 30, 2020, will be granted an automatic extension to May 31, 2020. CE fines will not be assessed if the license is renewed by May 31, 2020.

 

Maine | Securities | Regulatory Relief

Maine has issued an order addressing disruptions in IA/BD operations and securities registrations resulting from virus. Order requires firms notify via email judith.m.shaw@maine.gov describing disruptions. The Order describes temporary regulatory relief around licensing and filing requirements among others.

 

Maine | Licensing, CE

All Maine licensed resident producers whose continuing education compliance period expires March 31 or April 30 will be granted an automatic extension until May 31, 2020. Continuing education fines will be waived if the license is renewed by May 31, 2020. The affected licenses will receive an email to their primary email address.

 

Maine | Closures

Given the COVID-19 health emergency, social distancing and other precautions in compliance with Maine CDC recommendations, we would like to limit in-person visits to the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation through April 30, when possible. For the safety of the public, our licensees and our staff, we are requesting that the public and our licensees use our online, email or telephone services whenever possible to transact business related to the Department including license applications or renewals, filing complaints etc. During this time, we intend to continue to deliver high quality services to our licensees and the general public while focusing on delivering those services remotely.

 

Maine | CE Requirements

Should a producer not be able to comply with the CE requirements they may contact that CE coordinator (email is acceptable) to have their case reviewed by the state.

 

Maine | Securities | Illicit Activities

Maine reminds investors to beware of con artists seeking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty in light of virus developments and its impact on financial markets.

Maryland | Extension of License Renewal Date

Effective June 1, 2020 Maryland will change all May 31, 2020 license expiration dates to
August 31, 2020. Due to the 90-day renewal window, licenses with expiration dates moving to
August 31, 2020 will not be able to renew until June 3, 2020.

 

Maryland | Test Center Openings

The Maryland Insurance Administration has announced that its exam vendor, PSI, will begin opening physical testing locations as of May 1, 2020.

 

Maryland | PDB Updates

Effective April 1, 2020 Maryland will change all March 31, 2020 license expiration dates to June 30, 2020. Once the new expiration date is displaying on the Producer Database, renewal applicants may continue to submit applications on April 2, 2020.

 

Maryland | Producer Licensing FAQs

The Maryland Insurance Administration has issued a bulletin outlining Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in regards to producer licensing processing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Maryland | License Renewal

In response to the Maryland Executive Order, Maryland is extending all license renewal dates to at least 30 days after the termination of the Maryland state of emergency order. Currently, licenses expiring March 31 will be issue a new license renewal date of June 30, 2020.

 

Maryland | CE

All providers wishing to deliver currently approved classroom courses in a new delivery format must file a new course application through the Sircon portal.  Once that submission is completed, please send an email to CESupportTeam@Prometric.com with the existing course numbers so it will help with the expedite process.  We are diligently working to get these requests completed in 1-2 business days.

Please make sure all required documents are included with each submission.  As a reminder, all course submissions are required to include promotional/advertising materials.  Webinar courses must follow standard classroom policies and MD webinar CE rules.

 

Maryland | Insurance Licensing

The Maryland Insurance Administration will be holding a Webex meeting for licensed insurance professionals in Maryland on Wednesday, March 25, at 2 p.m. regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of participants is limited, but please note that the session will be recorded for wide distribution later in the week.

Please send questions in advance to producerlicensing.mia@maryland.gov.
The Maryland Insurance Administration has posted some frequently asked questions specifically for producers on their website, insurance.maryland.gov.

Here’s how to join the session:
JOIN WEBEX MEETING
https://marylandinsurance.webex.com/marylandinsurance/j.php?MTID=md89e15e3bb938853d58b91b27a104e81
Meeting number (access code): 737 077 339
Meeting password: HkD53pKdy2J
JOIN BY PHONE
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll

 

Maryland | Closures

Maryland issued a FAQ document for producers.  That document is available at: https://insurance.maryland.gov/Documents/newscenter/MIA-Producer-Licensing-COVID-FAQ.pdf.

Massachusetts | Regulatory Relief Extension

The Division is issuing this amended Emergency Notice based on the authority granted to the Division by the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s extended Emergency Order dated September 29, 2020 (the “Order”).

Please note that this amended Emergency Notice no longer includes some of the accommodations that the Division’s previous Emergency Notices have covered, such as the temporary waiver of notarizations in connection with Corporate Finance filings, the relief from submitting a notarized CORI form in connection with an application for investment adviser registration or the relief from annual update filings and document delivery for investment advisers. Please review the entire amended Emergency Notice to determine what relief may be available to you.

This amended Emergency Notice shall remain in effect until October 31, 2020, unless extended or rescinded.

 

Massachusetts | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension

Massachusetts Extends Temporary Relief from Signature & Notarization Requirements  and shall remain in effect until August 31, 2020, unless extended or rescinded.

 

Massachusetts | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting: (i) applicants for securities registration, persons making securities exemption filings, persons making securities notice filings, and persons filing consent to service of process forms and related corporate resolutions (collectively, “corporate finance filers”) and (ii) broker-dealers, investment advisers, federal covered advisers, and their registered agents or investment adviser representatives (collectively, “financial professionals”), the Massachusetts Securities Division issued an Emergency Notice to grant temporary relief from signature and notarization requirements pending the duration of the Emergency Notice. The Division is extending the Emergency Notice based on the authority granted to the Division by the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s extended Emergency Order dated April 28, 2020 (the “Order”). This Emergency Notice has been extended and shall remain in effect until May 31, 2020, unless extended or rescinded.

 

Massachusetts | Temporary Licensing

Effective immediately, the Massachusetts Division of Insurance will issue temporary producer licenses to applicants who meet the requirements for resident licensure without requiring an examination or the submission of fingerprints, subject to the following conditions:

1. Temporary producer licensees must be a resident of Massachusetts.
2. Temporary producer licensees must be appointed by a sponsoring insurer who assumes responsibilities for all acts of the temporary licensee. The temporary appointment will coincide with the duration of the temporary license.
3. A temporary producer license will be valid for a period of 90 days after the State of Emergency is terminated or 180 days from the date of issue.

 

Massachusetts | Extending License Expiration Dates

Massachusetts will be extending expiration dates for individuals to August 2, 2020 on the Producer Database. This will currently only affect those whose expiration dates are between March 10, 2020 and May 4, 2020.
Note: The normal renewal period for Producer individuals is triennially based on date of birth and Surplus lines individuals renew annually based on the original date of licensure.

 

Massachusetts | COVID-19 FAQ

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

 

Massachusetts | CE

All individual insurance licensees are encouraged to complete any required continuing education in advance of their original renewal date. To assist individual licensees with the satisfaction of these requirements, the MA Insurance Division has approved many online (self-study) courses, eliminating the need for in-person attendance and supporting initiatives to slow the spread of COVID-19. A listing of approved courses is available through Prometric at https:/ /ceo.experioronline.com/Features/ Approved Courses/ ACLMain.asp.

Consistent with the standards for social distancing outlined in the Public Health Advisory issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on March 24, 2020, during the state of emergency, the Division is also waiving the proctor requirement for all approved online continuing education courses.

All providers of continuing education courses for resident insurance producers are encouraged to expand their offerings and provide an online option for those courses that are currently approved for in-person classroom credit. Any approved classroom courses being offered online during the state of emergency do not have to be re-filed for approval. However, a course provider offering approved classroom courses online, must notify Prometric within 30 days of delivering such a course online to ensure continuing education credit is properly recorded.

 

Massachusetts | Licensing

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance has issued a bulletin outlining the extension of all individual insurance licenses in “good standing” (licenses that have not been revoked, surrendered, suspended or subject to disciplinary restrictions) as of the date of the states’ Emergency Declaration (March 10th). Applicable licenses that expire during the emergency period are extended and will remain valid for a period of 90 days following the termination of the state of emergency. Additionally, licensees are encouraged to complete any required continuing education in advance of their original license renewal date. In order to assist licensees with the satisfaction of their continuing education requirements, the Division of Insurance has approved many online (self-study) courses during this time.

Michigan | Insurance Licensing

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services has announced that it will no longer accept applications for temporary producer licenses, effective October 22, 2020. Any application received prior to October 22 that is missing documentation as of that date will be considered incomplete and will not be processed. All previously issued temporary producer licenses will terminate on the earlier of 180 days after issuance or November 30, 2020.

 

Michigan | Test center availability

The Michigan Department of Financial Services (DIFS) announced that its exam vendor, PSI, has reopened some test centers at half capacity. Details about open centers and availability are available on the PSI website. If a site is not on the PSI Test Center Closures list, it is open and candidates can schedule exams there.

 

Michigan | Temporary Insurance License

Michigan will issue a temporary resident producer license to otherwise qualified applicants without requiring an examination. The temporary licenses will be valid for the longer of 90 days or until 30 days after expiration of the current COVID-19 state of emergency, but cannot exceed 180 days. The temporary license will automatically expire at that time but can be converted to a regular producer license by completion of all prerequisites for that line of authority, including examination.

 

Michigan | CE Providers

Michigan has released guidelines for classroom CE courses to be converted to online courses. The guidelines can be found at  https://www.michigan.gov/documents/difs/Education_Providers_Update_684253_7.pdf.

Minnesota | Extension of License Renewal Dates

The Minnesota Commerce Department has issued a bulletin outlining the extension of producer and adjuster license renewal dates due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Individuals due to renew a Minnesota insurance producer or insurance adjuster license by the end of April now have until June 30, 2020 to complete all renewal requirements, including continuing education hours and the required application and fee.

 

Minnesota | Temporary License

Effective immediately, the Minnesota Department of Commerce will issue temporary producer licenses to applicants who meet the requirements for resident licensure without requiring examination or the submission of fingerprints, subject to the following conditions:

1. A temporary producer license will be valid for a period of 180 days.
2. Available lines of authority will be Life, Accident & Health, Property, Casualty, Variable Life & Variable Annuity, Personal Lines and Farm Property & Liability.

 

Minnesota | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Registration & Filing Requirements

In light of the challenges related to the COVID-19 virus, the Commissioner of Commerce has issued an Order granting temporary extensions from registration and filing requirements for regulated industries.

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and dislocations affecting broker-dealers, state registered investment advisers, federal covered investment advisers and their registered agents or (collectively, “financial professionals”), the Commissioner is adopting Regulatory Guidance 20-08 pursuant to Minnesota Statutes § 80A.61(e) and Minnesota Rule 2876 to temporarily grant the relief below:

  1. Registration or Filing Relief
  2. Relief from Requirement to Obtain Physical Signatures on Forms U4

III. Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State-Registered

Investment Advisers

  1. Coordinating Information and Enforcement

 

Minnesota | Licensing Updates, COVID-19 Procedure & Policies

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is committed to keeping the industry updated regarding their procedure and policy changes during the COVID-19 outbreak. Industry specific guidance is available via the Minnesota Department of Commerce website and will be updated regularly.

 

Minnesota | CE

The Commerce Department is implementing temporary, emergency procedures in regard to continuing education course submissions. The Department is temporarily waiving the requirement for courses to be submitted at least 30 days before the proposed initial course offering.

Commerce staff will continue to review course submissions in the order in which they are received. While the Department is waiving this deadline for application submission, continuing education providers should exercise good judgement when scheduling course offerings for courses not yet approved by the Department. Continuing education providers should submit as far in advance of the initial course offering as possible.

In the short term, individual questions are best directed to licensing.commerce@state.mn.us. Commerce staff are responding as soon as possible to written inquiries from all regulated license types.

 

Minnesota | Securities | Illicit Activity

State warns investors in Minnesota to beware of con artists seeking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty.

 

Minnesota | Closures, Testing

Test centers are closed. Fingerprint centers are closed.  Applicants must have prints taken manually. In-person CE or Pre-Licensing classes may be canceled.  For more information about classes, contact the provider.

Mississippi | Securities | Reporting of PPP loans

The Securities Division (the “Division”) of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office is providing guidance to state-licensed investment advisers (“Advisers”) who received or are considering applying for a forgivable loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) regarding whether there is a need to disclose PPP loans on Form ADV filings.

 

Mississippi | Insurance Temp License

Mississippi applicants may now apply for a temporary insurance producer license if all pre-licensing requirements have been completed except for examination. The license is effective for 180 days and is not renewable and the individual may not receive a second temporary license.

 

Mississippi | CE Extension

An individual holding a producer, adjuster, or DHS adjuster license with a March, April, May or June license renewal date may contact the Mississippi Insurance Department to request a continuing education completion extension. The MS DOI will work with these licensees to ensure that they are given an appropriate opportunity to meet their CE requirements.

 

Mississippi | Fingerprint Filings and Mail to their Office

The Offices of the Mississippi Insurance Department are still open however are operating on a limited staff and is closed to visitors. Should licensees need information it is advised to review the options available through the NIPR and/or Sircon.

 

Mississippi | CE

Waiver of CE. If a producer has registered and paid for a course/conference that has been delayed, they may submit proof of registration and MS will waive until the actual course is rescheduled and taken.

Missouri | Temporary License

Effective immediately, the Missouri Department of Insurance has announced they will no longer accept Covid-19 temporary resident producer applications. Complete temporary license applications received on or before June 15, 2020, will be approved.

Temporary resident producer licenses will convert to a regular license with no fees if the Missouri Department of Insurance receives documentation of examination passage prior to the expiration of the temporary license. The issuance date on the regular license will be based on the original effective date of the temporary license. Documentation and questions related to temporary licensing should be sent to templicense@insurance.mo.gov

 

Missouri | Temporary Insurance License

Missouri will issue a temporary resident producer license for life, variable life and variable annuity, accident and health, property, casualty, personal lines, and crop. An examination will not be required provided a currently licensed Missouri insurance producer will sponsor the applicant. The license will be valid for 90 days. The license will convert to a standard Missouri insurance license if documentation of examination passage is received within the 90 day period.

Montana | Fingerprints for Licensure

Due to social distancing, electronic fingerprint services are not available at all testing locations. As a result, the Montana Insurance Department has issued instructions on how to obtain paper fingerprints from the Montana Department of Justice. The paper fingerprints and fees must be sent directly to Montana Criminal Records.

Nebraska | CE 

The Nebraska Department of Insurance has extended the waiver of proctor requirements for continuing education self-study online courses through December 31, 2020.

 

Nebraska | Insurance CE 

The Nebraska Department of Insurance has extended the waiver of proctor requirements for continuing education self-study online courses to September 30, 2020.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension

Nebraska extends emergency order granting temporary relief.  Relief is extended until modified and relates to:

  • Registration or Filing Relief
  • Relief from Requirement to Obtain Physical Signature on Forms U4
  • Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State-Registered Investment Advisers
  • Coordinating Information and Enforcement

 

Nebraska | License Exams and Temporary Licenses

Effective May 1, 2020, Nebraska will no longer be issuing temporary licenses.
Nebraska has announced that its exam vendor, Prometric, will be reopening some insurance testing centers in the state, effective May 1, 2020. Virtual testing remains an option. Applicants should consult the vendor website for information on safety precautions and for an updated list of sites that are open.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (NDBF) is warning investors to be on the lookout for investment schemes specifically tied to the threat of COVID19.  If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Take the time to investigate any investment pitch and talk with a registered financial professional.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extended

Nebraska extends emergency order granting temporary relief relating to:

  • Registration or Filing Relief
  • Relief from Requirement to Obtain Physical Signature on Forms U4
  • Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State-Registered Investment Advisers
  • Coordinating Information and Enforcement

The Emergency Order issued March 20, 2020 shall remain in effect until May 31, 2020 unless extended or rescinded.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extended

Nebraska extends order relating to securities exemptions notice filings, Regulation D Rule 506 filings, Regulation A, Tier 2 filings, all securities registrations, all mutual funds notice filings, and all unit investment trusts filings. These are to be filed electronically via a specified email address.  The Order Temporarily Mandating Electronic Filings issued March 20, 2020 shall be amended to extend the expiration date of the Temporary Order from April 30, 2020 to May 31, 2020.

 

Nebraska | Licensing

Nebraska will allow producer applicants to take remotely-proctored exams through Prometric.

 

Nebraska | Temp License

Nebraska has revised the supplemental form that must be submitted with an application for a temporary producer license.

 

Nebraska | Licensing

The Department of Insurance will begin issuing temporary resident producer licenses. The temporary license will be valid for 90 days. It will change to a regular license without a new application or fees if the applicant completes the appropriate exam.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Registration

The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (NDBF) is committed to maintaining all critical functions to fulfill its supervisory mandate. The Securities Bureau, remains operational and continues to carry out its mission and vision. During this time, the Securities Bureau will be utilizing electronic communication in lieu of paper correspondence. Advisory includes information on regulatory filings; BCPs, citizen verification, examinations among other topics.

 

Nebraska | Licensing, CE

Resident Licenses expiring in March or April have a 90 day extension granted by sending a request to doi.licensing@nebraska.gov.

Webinar option can be added to already approved classroom courses by email request.

Self-study proctor requirements are waived until July 31, 2020

 

Nebraska | Securities | Registrations

Nebraska issues emergency order granting temporary relief relating to registration, filing requirements, Form U4, annual filing for investment advisers.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Registrations

Nebraska issues an order relating to securities exemptions notice filings, Regulation D Rule 506 filings, Regulation A, Tier 2 filings, all securities registrations, all mutual funds notice filings, and all unit investment trusts filings. These are to be filed electronically via a specified email address.

 

Nebraska | CE

Nebraska Resident licenses renewing in March or April may request a 90 day extension of continuing education by emailing  doi.licensing@nebraska.gov.

 

Nebraska | CE Providers

The webinar option can be added to already approved classroom courses by email request.

 

Nebraska | Continuing Education

Self-study proctor requirements are waived until July 31, 2020.

 

Nebraska | Securities | Illicit Activities

NE urges investors to beware of virus-related illicit activities.

Nevada | Continuing Education

The Nevada Department of Insurance has extended the waiver of continuing education proctoring requirements through the end of December 2020.

 

Nevada | Licensing and Fingerprints

The Nevada Department of Insurance has announced that some Pearson VUE-owned test sites and third-party test center sites are now open at 50% capacity. Fingerprinting is now available through Pearson VUE by appointment only. If an appointment is not available, applicants should use a vendor listed on the Department’s website. Additional information is also available on the Department’s website.

 

Nevada | Exam and Fingerprint 

Nevada has announced that its testing vendor, Pearson VUE, is offering licensing exams at certain centers on a reduced schedule and testing center capacity. Fingerprinting must be scheduled through a separate vendor. The Division has posted a FAQ document that includes a list of fingerprint vendors.

 

Nevada | CE

Exam proctor requirements are waived for online CE courses.

 

Nevada | Securities | Enforcement

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s Securities Division executed a Summary Order to Cease and Desist a Firm relating to COVID-19 cure. The Summary Order to Cease and Desist was based on a complaint filed by the Securities Division alleging the offering of an unregistered and non-exempt security within the State of Nevada.

 

Nevada | Licensing, CE

Department staff is working remotely. Due to exam and fingerprint vendor closures, the Department recommends submitting a new application ONLY if all required documentation has been completed. Incomplete applications will not be processed.

 

Nevada | Securities | Illicit Activity

In light of the ongoing developments related to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, and its impact on financial markets, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is reminding Nevada investors to beware of fraudsters seeking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty.

 

Nevada | Securities | Registration

All registrations and licensing applications and/or forms that are not processed through FINRA’s Central Registration Depository (CRD) shall be sent by regular US mail to a specified address.

 

Nevada | Insurance | Closures

Nevada Division of Insurance offices are closed to the public but still serving consumers.

 

Nevada | Insurance | Closures

The office is closed to public. Services are available by email/telephone.

New Hampshire | License Renewal

The New Hampshire Insurance Department is extending the deadline for all insurance producers whose original renewal deadline was on May 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020. The Insurance Department will not take any regulatory action in regards to license renewal issues as long as the producer seeks renewal by the new date of June 30, 2020.

 

New Hampshire | Exam Availability

The New Hampshire Insurance Department announced that its exam vendor, Prometric, has opened some test centers on a limited capacity. The Portsmouth test center opened May 1, 2020. The Concord test center remains closed at this time.

 

New Hampshire | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Registration & Filing Requirements

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting broker-dealers, state registered investment advisers, federal covered investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives (collectively, “financial professionals”), the N.H. Secretary of State, Bureau of Securities Regulation (hereinafter “Secretary of State”) is adopting this Emergency Order to temporarily grant the following relief:

  1. Registration or Filing Relief
  2. Relief from Requirement to Obtain Physical Signatures on Forms U4

III. Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State Registered Investment Advisers

  1. Coordinating Information and Enforcement

This Emergency Order is effective April 9, 2020 and shall remain in effect until further notice.

 

New Hampshire | Licensing, CE

The Insurance Department has published a list of Producer/Adjuster frequently asked questions. The document is available for review on the Department’s website.

 

New Hampshire | Licensing

The Insurance Department will extend the deadline for March and April license renewals by two months. The renewal deadline for licenses set to expire March 31 is now May 31, 2020. The deadline for licenses set to expire April 30 is now June 30, 2020.

 

New Hampshire | Closures, Testing

All New Hampshire testing locations are closed.

 

New Hampshire | CE Providers

New Hampshire allows currently approved classroom courses to be offered as virtual classroom/webinars.

New Jersey | Investor Warning

As October’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (“NCSAM”) gets underway, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that data breaches, internet fraud, and threats from online child predators are on the rise in the state, making it especially important for New Jerseyans to take action to protect themselves and their children from cyber criminals.
With residents in the state facing a rise in cybercrime during the COVID-19 public health emergency, NCSAM’s annual month-long campaign to raise awareness of internet safety takes on a new sense of urgency this year.

 

New Jersey | CE Extension of Suspension of Requirement

The New Jersey Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin outlining an extension of the suspension of the requirement for an independent monitor for CE courses. The bulletin provides that all self-study courses that were or will be taken during the state of emergency and public health emergency declared pursuant to New Jersey EO 103 and extended through New Jersey EO 171 do not need to include a monitored examination.

 

New Jersey | Temporary Licensing Update

The New Jersey Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin announcing the allowance of the electronic submission of applications for temporary insurance producer licenses through the National Insurance Producer Registry (“NIPR”).

 

New Jersey | Securities | Regulatory examinations of IAs

The Bureau of Securities (“the Bureau”) within the Division of Consumer Affairs announced that the Bureau’s annual investment adviser examination is underway.
The Bureau, which regulates New Jersey’s securities industry, uses the examination as a risk assessment tool for the more than 900 registered investment adviser firms that manage hundreds of thousands of clients’ investment accounts in the state. This year’s examinations will include questions asking firms about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their operations and the steps they take to protect senior investors, among other issues.
The Bureau amended this year’s examination to survey the effect COVID-19 has had on state registered investment advisers and to assess their business continuity plans. The Bureau’s requirement for business continuity plans endeavors to prepare investment advisers to continue providing service to clients, even during times of unexpected events such as COVID-19.

New Jersey | License & CE Extensions

The New Jersey Department of Insurance has released a bulletin outlining COVID-19-related licensing updates. Effective immediately, entities whose insurance producer licenses expire on May 31, 2020 are granted a three-month extension to August 31, 2020 for this licensing term only. For the next licensing term, entities must renew their licenses by May 31, 2022.
Individuals whose insurance producer licenses expire on or between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020 are granted a three-month extension of their license term. For example, if a licensee must renew his or her license by April 30, 2020, for 2020, the licensee would have a three-month extension to July 31, 2020. For the next licensing term, the licensee must renew by his or her license by April 30, 2022.
With respect to self-study courses taken from March 9, 2020 through June 30, 2020, the Department is waiving the requirement that self-study continuing education courses culminate in a monitored examination of the material presented.

New Jersey | Continuing Education

With respect to self-study courses taken from March 9, 2020 through June 30, 2020, the Department is waiving the requirement that self-study continuing education courses culminate in a monitored examination of the material presented. In order to facilitate social distancing as mandated by EO 107, the examination does not need to be monitored.

New Jersey | Temp License

Effective May 1, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Insurance will issue temporary producer licenses to applicants who meet the requirements for resident licensure without requiring an examination, subject to the following conditions:

1. Temporary producer licensees must be a resident of New Jersey.
2. Temporary producer licensees must be appointed by a sponsoring insurer who assumes responsibilities for all acts of the temporary licensee.
3. A temporary producer license will be valid for a period of 30 days after the State of Emergency is terminated or 180 days from the date of issue, whichever is sooner.

New Jersey | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Comment Period Extension

New Jersey Executive Order No. 127 (EO-127) extends the comment period on the Proposed Fiduciary Rule Changes due to COVID-19:

‘The one-year expiration date set forth in N.J.A.C. 1:30-6.2(c) for notices of rule proposal shall be extended until 90 days after the last day of the Public Health Emergency declared in Executive Order No. 103 (2020), if the notice of proposal was published in the New Jersey Register on or after April 15, 2019, and the notice of rule proposal would otherwise expire without the benefit of such an extension.

New Mexico | Securities | Relief of on-site branch inspection requirement

New Mexico Issues Temporary Order Authorizing Remote On-Site Audits by Broker-Dealers of Single Agent Branch Offices

 

New Mexico | Securities | Regulatory relief extension

New Mexico Issues Second Extension Order Relating to Temporary Relief for Registrants Affected by COVID-19 Outbreak

 

New Mexico | Securities | Regulatory relief extension

New Mexico issues extension Order relating to temporary relief for registrants affected by the COVID-19 outbreak relating to registration/filing relief, signatures, and annual filings.
Based on the ongoing need to continue to address the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting financial professionals, Order No. 03-03-20 is hereby extended and shall remain in effect until August 24, 2020, unless rescinded or further extended.

 

New Mexico | License Renewal Extension

New Mexico will update expiration dates on the Producer Database (PDB) for individual resident producer and adjuster licensees that expire April 30, 2020. Any applicant that has an April 30, 2020 expiration date will be assigned a June 30, 2020 expiration date.

 

New Mexico | Securities | General Announcement

New Mexico Securities Division updates information regarding Operations including information on Compliance and Registrations, Enforcement and Investor Education. Division offices remain closed; the Division remains operational; staff continues to telework.

 

New Mexico | Securities

The offices of the New Mexico Securities Division are closed, Securities Division staff are primarily teleworking from home.  Staff may be reached via their state email, cell phone if available or by leaving them a voicemail message on their office line.  Staff is responding to email and voicemail each day.   Relevant contact information is available on the agency’s website at http://www.redflags.nm.com

The Securities Division’s compliance unit is conducting streamlined, remote examinations using phone and email correspondence in lieu of traditional on-site examinations during this time.  Licensing staff continued to process licensing/registration applications through the CRD/IARD systems. Requests for supplemental information may be submitted via email.  Enforcement staff also are continuing to minimize in-person contacts with witnesses and regulatory partners, taking advantage of phone, email, and other forms of telecommunications technology to complete their work in a virtual environment.

 

New Mexico | Securities | Regulatory Relief

New Mexico has extended virus-related temporary regulatory relief pertaining to registration and filing requirements; physical wet signatures on Forms U4; Form ADV filing & delivery relief. Firms relying on relief described in this emergency order must retain a copy of the order.  Order remains in effect until May 25, 2020.

 

New Mexico | Securities | Guidelines

New Mexico Securities Division staff will continue to be available by email and telephone, Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 5:00pm (MST); continue to investigate potential violations of the New Mexico Securities laws; continue accepting all filings, and the division requests any and all required filings be kept current.  If firms encounter potential difficulty in complying with a New Mexico securities related statute or rule as a consequence of the recent COVID‐19 pandemic, please contact the Securities Division.  The state will endeavor to allow appropriate relief such as extensions and temporary exemptions as circumstances may warrant. Additionally, the SEC and FINRA have announced regulatory relief to allow for some extensions and/or temporary exemptions.  Please notify the New Mexico Securities Division if your firm will be utilizing any extension or temporary exemption.

 

New Mexico | Fingerprinting

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety is fingerprinting by appointment only.

 

New Mexico | Insurance | Closures

The NM OSI offices are closed to visitors and will not be scheduling meetings through April 6, 2020.

New York | CE compliance extension

As producers continue to face challenges in obtaining the requisite number of continuing education credits by attending in-person courses in advance of their license expiration dates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has extended the suspension of the requirement that a monitor be present to complete producer continuing education and pre-licensing course exams online for an additional 90 days, through November 5, 2020.

As a final accommodation, DFS has also extended the suspension of the expiration of individual producer licenses for an additional 30 days, through September 6, 2020. At the end of this 30-day period, all licenses that would have expired between March 25, 2020 and September 6, 2020 but for Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) and the Supplements thereto will automatically expire on September 7, 2020, unless the producer completes all necessary continuing education credits, and submits a license renewal application, before September 7, 2020. https://www.dfs.ny.gov/industry_guidance/circular_letters/cl2020_s03_cl2020_09

Please direct any questions to insurance.covid19@dfs.ny.gov. Producers are also encouraged to visit www.dfs.ny.gov for periodic updates related to licensing requirements.

 

New York | Producer Licensing and CE 

New York extends CE renewal relief for an additional 30 days.

This is an update to Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) issued by the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) on March 25, 2020, and Supplement No. 1 to Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) issued by DFS on May 21, 2020, relating to “Coronavirus and Insurance Producer Licensing Requirements.”

Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) suspended the expiration of licenses for all individual producers for 60 days, from March 25, 2020 through May 24, 2020; waived any late fees resulting from, and accruing during, this 60-day period; and suspended the requirement that a monitor be present to complete producer continuing education and pre-licensing course exams online during this 60-day period. Supplement No. 1 to Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) extended the relief provided in Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) for an additional 45 days, through July 8, 2020.

As producers continue to face challenges in obtaining the requisite number of continuing education credits in advance of their license expiration dates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFS has extended the relief provided in Insurance Circular Letter No. 9 (2020) for an additional 30 days, through August 7, 2020. At the end of this 30-day period, all licenses that would have expired but for this extension will automatically expire unless the producer has submitted a license renewal application, including completion of all necessary continuing education credits, before that date.

Please direct any questions to insurance.covid19@dfs.ny.gov. Producers are also encouraged to visit www.dfs.ny.gov for periodic updates related to licensing requirements.

 

New York | Licensing Update

The New York State Department of Financial Services, (DFS), has issued a bulletin detailing the extension of the insurance producer license renewal period for an additional 45 days from the original extension granted in March. License renewals have now been extended to July 8, 2020.
At the end of this 45-day period, all licenses that would have expired but for this extension will automatically expire unless the producer has submitted a license renewal application, including completion of all necessary continuing education credits, before that date.

 

New York | Securities | Regulatory Relief , Filing Requirements

Due to the ongoing disruptions arising from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) outbreak, all registration filers, including those submitting filings through the CRD/IARD system, should expect significant delays in correspondence from the Investor Protection Bureau (“IPB”) of the Department of Law. While most staff in IPB are working remotely and operations will continue, the Department of Law recognizes that the COVID-19 outbreak has also disrupted the operations of market participants and registrants.
As a result, the Department of Law will grant limited, temporary relief from certain filing requirements under the Martin Act, General Business Law (“GBL”) Article 23-A and the Franchise Sales Act, GBL Article 33. In addition, the Department of Law will implement new, electronic filing procedures to allow for the continuity of operations during this disruption. The applicable email addresses are noted in this document. Notably, this relief does not apply to violations that occurred or began prior to March 1, 2020. Nor does this relief have any impact on the other anti-fraud provisions of the Martin Act, the Franchise Sales Act or IPB’s ongoing enforcement activity. The Department of Law and IPB will continue to consider other steps that can be taken to facilitate electronic filing and payment.
Therefore, IPB hereby grants conditional relief to any and all filing deadlines related to filings submitted or due after March 1, 2020 under sections GBL § 359-e or GBL § 359-eee, GBL §680 et seq., 13 NYCRR 10, 13 NYCRR11, or 13 NYCRR 200 related to registration including CRD and IARD rules, other than real estate related filings.

 

New York | Securities | Rulemaking, Notice Filing / Registration 

New York Attorney took steps to streamline and enhance the oversight of the securities industry in New York by proposing new rules to modernize registrations with the Investor Protection Bureau (IPB) in the Office of the Attorney General. The new rules which follow on the heels of procedural changes announced in response to COVID-19 public health crisis on March 27, 2020 will move filings and payments to standardized federal and multi-state systems.

With these changes, New York’s registration procedures will better conform to the federal securities registration regime, cure industry confusion when it comes to certain registration requirements, and better track exam requirement compliance and disciplinary disclosures for thousands of investment advisers who provide investment advice to New Yorkers.

  •  The proposed revisions to 13 NYCRR 10 amend regulations to require certain notice filings for federal “covered securities” being sold in New York and to effectuate such filings through the North American Association of Securities Administrators’ (NASAA) electronic filing depository system. Under the revised regulations, the IPB will require that such dealers file Form NF, Form D, and the Uniform Notice Filing for Tier 2 Securities directly with the state of New York.
  • The proposed revisions to 13 NYCRR 11 will fully implement GBL § 359-eee by registering investment adviser representatives through the Central Registration Depository/Investment Adviser Registration Depository (collectively CRD/IARD). This new registration will close gaps in nationwide regulation efforts, which may in certain cases fail to connect investment adviser representatives with their past records in the securities industry. A full and complete accounting of these individuals’ records is necessary to protect the public and is already maintained in every other state in the nation. Through these revisions, Attorney General James will now be able to provide notice that investment adviser representatives including principals and supervisors, as well as solicitors  will, upon adoption and implementation of these regulations, be explicitly required to meet exam requirements and register with the state. The proposed revisions also delineate IPB’s authority to deny, suspend, condition, or revoke any registration statement or application of any investment adviser or investment adviser representative in the public interest for good cause.
  • Finally, the proposed revisions also include a new bookkeeping requirement for investment advisers. The revision requires that investment advisers registered with the state take reasonable steps to verify the “accredited investor” and “qualified client” status of any client so designated, including making and maintaining documents used in the course of verification. Such revisions codify the requirement that investment advisers take due care in making such designations, which — if used to recommend investments in certain securities can expose New Yorkers to increased investment risk. The proposed revisions also seek to clarify the registration and exam requirements for certain, currently undefined subclassifications of broker-dealers and investment advisers that are paid to match up investors with securities industry participants. The proposals define and classify “Finders” and “Solicitors,” and explicitly require registration and exam requirements for each.

 

New York | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Filing Requirements

New York announces steps being taken to make state government services more accessible to New Yorkers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis. In an effort to address disruptions happening across New York and specifically in the Office of the Attorney General (OAG),  guidance has been issued that will limit the need to mail many physical submissions to the state.

  • Extended filing date by 90 days for any registration renewal, amendment, financial statement, or Investment Adviser Qualification (NY-IAQ) filing that would have been due between March 1, 2020 and April 30, 2020. Certain securities and franchise filers to utilize email in addition to any physical submissions.
  • Relief period created during which the need for numerous submissions and filings to the REF will be suspended. For example, the OAG will not require sponsors to submit certain amendments to offering plans to the REF during the relief period, as long as such amendments do not include material and adverse changes. The REF is also increasing its capacity for electronic processing of submissions, and can now accept most submissions for filing via email rather than in paper format.

 

New York | Cybersecurity Notification Requirement Extension

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the deadline for submission of the NY Cybersecurity Certification of Compliance for calendar year 2019 has been extended from its original deadline of April 15, 2020 to June 1, 2020.

 

New York | Licensing, CE

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFS will suspend the expiration of licenses for all individual producers from March 25, 2020 through May 24, 2020 and waive any late fees resulting from, and accruing during, this suspension period. At the end of this 60-day period, all licenses that would have expired but for this accommodation will automatically expire unless the producer has submitted a license renewal application, including completion of all necessary continuing education credits, before that date. Furthermore, DFS will suspend the requirement that a monitor be present to complete producer continuing education and pre-licensing course exams online during this 60-day period. Except as provided in this circular letter, all licensing requirements, including those relating to continuing education, will continue to apply.

 

New York | Fingerprint Filings and Mail to their Office

NY’s Dept. of Financial Services is currently teleworking and does not recommend mailing fingerprint cards, checks or bonds to their office.  If the item being mailed is easily replaceable the department states that it can still be mailed. All paper applications submitted are on hold pending review.

North Carolina | Licensing

IMPORTANT COVID-19 CE DEADLINE INFORMATION FOR N.C. INSURANCE LICENSEES

All NC licensed insurance producers and adjusters whose Continuing Education (CE) compliance period ended in February, March, April, May and June 2020 (based on birth date) have until October 31, 2020 to meet the state mandated CE requirements. This includes NC nonresident adjusters with NC as the Designated Home State (DHS).  If the CE requirements are not met by October 31, 2020, the license will be expired.

If you have questions, please email asd@ncdoi.gov

 

North Carolina | CE Compliance Extension

The North Carolina Department of Insurance has announced a compliance date extension for licensees with CE requirements:
• For licensees with CE requirements, their compliance dates have been extended until 10/31/20 for licensees with 2/29/20, 3/31/20, 4/30/20, 5/31/20, 6/30/20, 7/31/20, 8/31/20 and 9/30/20 compliance dates. (Birth dates in these months).

 

North Carolina | Securities | Adoption of Temp. Rule

The North Carolina Rules Review Commission approved a temporary amendment to the Department’s Local Public Offering (LPO) sunset rule, 18 NCAC 06A .2120.

The temporary amendment is effective on July 1, 2020.  It extends the sunset date for LPO filings from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2025.  It also extends the sunset for the LPO rules from April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2026.

Under the North Carolina Administrative Procedures Act, temporary rules have a limited duration.  We will therefore, begin permanent rulemaking later this summer so that the permanent rule will be in effect before the temporary rule expires.

In order to assist North Carolina small businesses that are facing economic uncertainty, the North Carolina Secretary of State seeks to amend 18 NCAC 06A .2120 to (1) extend the sunset provisions to accept new Form NCE-LPO or other filings related to a new local public offering (“LPO”) by five years and (2) extend the expiration for the rules in Section .2100 by five years to continue the accessibility of responsible intrastate crowdfunding by North Carolina businesses.

 

North Carolina | Securities | Notaries

Emergency video notarizations are now temporarily authorized under state law for most notarial acts until August 1, 2020 as a result of the State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, a notarization had to be conducted with the notary and principal signer in close physical proximity. See page 34 of the bill.

 

North Carolina | Securities | General

In this edition of the Securities Division newsletter you will find information on COVID-19 and related scams and cybersecurity best practices, as well as features from NASAA on COVID-19 Task Force and Investment Advisor report.

 

North Carolina | Temporary Producer License

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, effective immediately, North Carolina will begin issuing temporary producer & adjuster licenses.
• The applicant will need to complete the pre-licensing education (PLE) and pass the PLE exam. The applicant should complete the license application through NIPR.
• This license will remain in effect for 120 days.

 

North Carolina | Licensing, CE

North Carolina is not able to waive the fingerprint requirement. Pearson Vue testing centers are closed until at least April 15. Any licensee (including DHS adjusters) whose CE compliance period expires in March, April, or May 2020 will be granted an extension through June 30, 2020, to meet their CE requirements. CE courses approved for classroom delivery may be delivered as a webinar. The Department is not currently allowing adjusters who do not hold a North Carolina license to perform emergency adjustment work.

 

North Carolina | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

In the latest edition of the Securities Division newsletter you will find information on COVID-19 and related scams, teleworking and cybersecurity best practices, as well as features from a recent FINRA investor education publication.

 

North Carolina | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

North Carolina Secretary of State Offers Tips to Avoid COVID-19 Related Investment Scams.

 

North Carolina | CE Requirements

Producers who have CE compliance periods that expire in March, April or May of 2020 will be granted an extension through June 30, 2020 (this includes non-resident adjusters with NC as the DHS).

 

North Carolina | CE

North Carolina is granting March, April, and May license renewals an extension of CE requirements. CE must be met by June 30, 2020.

 

North Carolina | Licensing, CE 

Refer to link for full details. CE extension until June for Mar/Apr/May compliance periods. Includes DHS. CE courses approved for classroom ok via webinar. Licensing delays (exam/fingerprint issues).

https://www.ncdoi.gov/documents/agent-services-division-asd-updates-related-covid-19

 

North Carolina | CE Providers

All Insurance CE courses previously approved for classroom delivery by licensed CE providers can be offered via webinar without the Insurance CE provider refiling the courses for a different presentation method with Prometric. The Insurance CE provider should assume the full responsibility to monitor attendance.

 

North Carolina | CE Requirements

Producers who have CE compliance periods that expire in March, April or May of 2020 will be granted an extension through June 30, 2020 (this includes non-resident adjusters with NC as the DHS).

North Dakota | Securities | Illicit activities

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, North Dakota Securities Department reminds financial professionals and the public throughout North Dakota that heightened isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created conditions conducive to the financial exploitation of seniors.

 

North Dakota | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Electronic Filing

In order to implement a more complete remote work policy that provides timely service to the Securities Department’s constituency, the Securities Commissioner has determined that it is in the best interest of the staff of the Securities Department , issuers, and the public to mandate that securities registration applications, notice filings, and exemption filings, not currently utilizing the North American Securities Administrators Association Electronic Filing Depository (EFD) portal or BlueExpress, be filed electronically using the Securities Department’s secure email address.

 

North Dakota | CE Extension

Due to Covid-19, North Dakota will automatically extend the continuing education reporting period for producer license’s that expire on April 30 to May 31, 2020. License renewal must still be completed by April 30, 2020. Producers who have not completed continuing education must mail or email the license renewal forms to the North Dakota Insurance Department.

 

North Dakota | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, securities regulators continue to urge investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.

In particular, regulators warn investors to be on the lookout for investments specifically tied to the threat of COVID-19. Bad actors can be expected to develop schemes that falsely purport to raise capital for companies manufacturing surgical masks and gowns, producing ventilators and other medical equipment, distributing small-molecule drugs and other preventative pharmaceuticals, or manufacturing vaccines and miracle cures. The schemes often appear legitimate because they draw upon current news, medical reports and social and political developments.

 

North Dakota | Licensing 

North Dakota will allow applicants to take remotely proctored exams through Prometric.

 

North Dakota | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Notarization 

The North Dakota Securities Commissioner understands that registrants and other filers may not be able to obtain notary attestation at this time. Until further notice, the North Dakota Securities Department will accept a signed unsworn declaration as an attachment to any document subject to notarization requirements, pursuant to Chapter 31-15 of the North Dakota Century Code. The unsworn declaration must include substantially similar language contained in the attached notice.

 

North Dakota | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Form U4 and Form ADV

North Dakota issues emergency Temporary Relief for Registrants Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak including relief from requirement to obtain physical signatures on Form U4 as well as relief from annual Form ADV update filings and delivery requirements by state-registered investment advisers. 

 

North Dakota | CE, License Renewal

Continuing education is extended for licenses renewing on March 31. Licensee’s will have until April 30, 2020 to complete the continuing education. License renewal is not extended. File license renewal through paper/email if continuing education has not been completed.

Ohio | CE

The Ohio Department of Insurance has extended COVID-19 accommodations through December 31, 2020.  The Department has determined that this will be the final extension of the temporary distance learning approvals. After December 31st, 2020, any courses that were approved under the temporary webinar format and are requested to be renewed, will be returned to their original classroom format. Effective January 1st, 2020, any courses approved as a classroom course must meet all classroom course requirements as outlined in the Ohio Administrative Code.

Providers who want to continue offering their 2020 classroom courses in a distance learning format in 2021, will need to not renew the classroom course(s) and submit new applications for 2021 as distance learning.  All distance learning courses held in 2021 will need to follow all of the OAC requirements for distance learning.

 

Ohio | Prelicensing

Ohio is again extending the expiration of prelicensing course completion certificates. Any individual whose certificate expiration date is between March 14, 2020, and September 30, 2020, has until September 30, 2020 to use their expired certificate to take an exam.

 

Ohio | Insurance prelicensing

Ohio is extending the expiration of all prelicensing course completion certificates that have expiration dates between March 14 and August 31, 2020. The new expiration date for these prelicensing course completion certificates will be August 31, 2020.

 

Ohio | Securities | Illicit activities,  financial exploitation

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities reminds the public and financial professionals throughout Ohio that heightened isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for senior financial exploitation.

While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one.

 

Ohio | Prelicense Cert

Ohio is extending the expiration of all prelicensing course completion certificates that have expiration dates between March 14 and June 29, 2020. The new expiration date for these prelicensing course completion certificates will be June 30, 2020.

 

Ohio | Securities | Enforcement

The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities announced it has joined an international enforcement task force organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to investigate criminals trying to defraud the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Ohio | License Exam 

Ohio Columbus north and Troy testing locations are open for limited insurance license examinations.

 

Ohio | Temp License

Ohio will immediately begin offering temporary licenses for major line resident agent applicants without requiring an examination or criminal records check. Each temporary license must be sponsored by an insurer. However, Ohio will not issue a temporary license to individuals who have previously failed an Ohio insurance licensing exam or been denied a major line resident agent license due to the results of a criminal records check in a prior application.

Temporary licenses expires 60 days after the expiration of the Stay at Home Order, issuance or denial of a major lines license, or 180 days whichever comes first.

 

Ohio | Securities | General Announcement

Quarterly bulletin includes an overview on the Commission’s actions in light of COVID-19, legislative updates, enforcement and licensing updates and Division and industry news.

 

Ohio | PDB Updates

Effective March 30, 2020, Ohio will update March and April 2020 license expiration dates to May 31, 2020 for resident and non-resident licensees, extending their renewal period. The new expiration date will be updated and displayed on the Producer Database (PDB) on March 30, 2020 causing PDB alerts.

 

Ohio | Licensing, CE

Ohio has updated license renewal and continuing education extension. Ohio will automatically extend all license renewal and continuing education dates occurring during the state of emergency to December 1, 2020 or until 90 days after the end of the state of emergency, whichever occurs first. Prelicensing completion certificates that expire while the exam vendor is closed will have up to 30 days after the exam vendor reopens to take their examination.

 

Ohio | Securities | Illicit Activities

Ohio urges individuals to beware of scams related to the virus.

 

Ohio | CE

Effective immediately and through May 31, 2020: All CE providers will be allowed to deliver currently approved classroom courses via distance learning without having to refile for course approval or pay any additional fees.  Providers will need to submit a request to Prometric with course information and detailed explanation of how attendance will be monitored.

 

Ohio | Closures

The DOI office is closed.  Staff is working remotely. Please scan and email rather than fax documents.

 

Ohio License and CE Renewals 

The state has extended license and CE renewals so that those licensees that have a renewal date in March or April are now extended to May 31st.

 

Ohio | Securities | Closures

OH publishes update related to virus.  Most staff will be teleworking for next few weeks.  Asking for patience; for individuals to refrain from visiting their offices; and to connect with the state via phone or email.  OH’s online filing functions are currently unavailable.  Other filing options, such as NASAA EFD and BlueExpress are still available.  Questions or concerns should be directed to the state by calling 614-644-7381.

Oklahoma | Temp License

The Oklahoma Insurance Department will stop accepting Temporary Producer and Apprentice Adjuster license applications due to Covid-19 on June 25, 2020. Pending applications received by the OK DOI by June 25 will continue to be processed.

All Temporary Producer and Apprentice Adjuster licenses will expire on September 1, 2020.

 

Oklahoma | Exams

Oklahoma has announced that effective immediately, the seating capacity at all testing centers in the state will be at 100%. All seats have been opened for scheduling. All temporary license holders are encouraged to schedule their examinations as soon as possible. Oklahoma is evaluating the need to continue temporary licenses and will issue a notice when they decide to expire the temporary licenses.

Reminder, Oklahoma testing will not be available June 29 to July 5 to launch a new examination.

Contact Prometric for any exam availability questions.

 

Oklahoma | Temporary License

The Oklahoma Insurance Department and Prometric​ have started to reopen test centers. However, due to social distancing guidelines, exam testing availability is extremely limited. As a result, until further notice, Oklahoma will continue to accept temporary producer applications.

 

Oklahoma | Securities | Illicit activities

The Oklahoma Department of Securities announced that it has joined an international enforcement task force organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to investigate fraudsters looking to capitalize during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Oklahoma | Exam, Temp License

Oklahoma has reopened four of its five exam testing centers with social distancing and face masks required.

Due to exam centers reopening Oklahoma is encouraging all Temporary License holders to prepare to take the examination for a regular license. In addition, Oklahoma will continue to accept and process temporary applications until May 14, 2020 at which time they will reevaluate the need for continuing to accept temporary licenses.

 

Oklahoma | Securities | Illicit Activities Warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Oklahoma Department of Securities is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.  In particular, the Department warns investors to be on the lookout for investments specifically tied to the COVID-19 crisis. Bad actors can be expected to use schemes that falsely claim to raise capital for companies developing new testing methods, distributing vaccines, or manufacturing miracle cures. “The schemes may appear legitimate because they draw upon current news, medical reports and social and political developments. In addition, the schemes will require minimal sophistication by the scammer,” Hall said. “Don’t be fooled by a professional-looking website. Anybody can create a website that looks legitimate.”

 

Oklahoma | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extension 

Oklahoma issues temporary order temporarily extending certain Investment Adviser filing deadlines until July 15, 2020 unless subsequently modified, vacated, or extended by the Administrator of the Department.  Any amendments required by written instructions to Form ADV shall continue to be made promptly, that is, no later than 30 days after learning of the facts or circumstances giving rise to the amendment.  This order is retroactively effective as of March 17, 2020.

 

Oklahoma | Securities | Mandated Electronic Filing

Oklahoma issues temporary order mandating electronic filing of Securities Registration Applications, Notice Filings and Interpretive Opinion and No-Action Requests. Payment of fees shall be made by electronic fund transfer. Upon receipt of the filing, instructions for making the payment will be provided to the filer.  Filings submitted via email will not be effective until payment is received by the Department.  This Order shall remain in effect until June 15, 2020, unless subsequently modified, vacated, or extended by the Administrator.

 

Oklahoma | CE

Oklahoma has updated executive order 2020-7 to include continuing education. License renewal and continuing education have now both been extended until 14 days after the end of the Oklahoma emergency order.

 

Oklahoma | Licensing

Oklahoma will allow residents to apply for temporary producer and apprentice adjuster licenses due to exam vendor closure. The licenses are effective until 30 days after the states emergency declaration ends.

 

Oklahoma | Licensing, CE

Per the Oklahoma Governor, all licenses in OK are extended during the emergency. They must renew within 14 days of the withdrawal or termination of order.

 

Oklahoma | Closures

The Oklahoma office is working remotely.

 

Oklahoma | CE Providers

CE classroom courses may be presented at webinars until May 1. Email education@oid.ok.gov to request approval.

 

Oklahoma | CE Providers

All pre-approved classroom CE courses have been given the additional classification as an online course.

Oregon | Securities | Illicit activities, financial exploitation

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation remind people to help senior citizens be on guard for financial exploitation.
Increased isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed seniors to increased risk of financial scams. Financial abuse can happen any time, but perpetrators often use times of seclusion to strike, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. They will often gather personal information from obituaries and social media to target their victims. Many schemes involve using fake information to build trust with seniors and get more involved in their lives.

 

Oregon | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

Oregon Issues Warning Relating to COVID-19 Scams.

 

Oregon | Securities | Dedicated Webpage

Oregon Publishes Website Information Page for COVID-19.

Pennsylvania | Temporary Producer License 

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department will no longer accept applications for temporary licensure effective October 19, 2020.

 

Pennsylvania | Securities | Illicit activity, financial exploitation

The Department of Banking and Securities (DoBS) is reminding Pennsylvanians about signs of senior financial exploitation and ways to help prevent this type of abuse.
While elder financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

 

Pennsylvania | Securities | Regulatory relief, filing requirements 

The physical locations for the Department of Banking and Securities are currently closed.  We are maintaining operations through electronic communication.

State Registered Investment Advisers: Financial Statement and Form ADV amendment filing requirements have both been extended until July 31, 2020.  Financial statements should be submitted electronically and it is recommended that you send them securely. When you are ready to file the financials, please send an email to RA-BNSecuritiesLIC1@pa.gov and we will send you instructions on how to submit them via encrypted email.

 

Pennsylvania | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

Consumers should be wary of potential financial and investment scams related to COVID-19. Scammers will often target individuals through unsolicited communications – by phone, email, or even social media.
In addition to financial scams, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) anticipates a rise in fraudulent investment schemes as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
This newsletter provides tips to help individuals avoid scams during the pandemic.

 

Pennsylvania | License Renewal Extension

Pennsylvania will extend the license renewal deadline for licenses expiring on May 31, 2020. Licenses expiring on May 31, 2020, will remain in active status until further notice.

 

Pennsylvania | Extension of License Renewal Date

Pennsylvania will extend the license renewal deadline for licenses expiring on April 30, 2020. Licenses expiring on April 30, 2020, will remain in active status until further notice.

 

Pennsylvania | Temporary Producer License

Pennsylvania will issue a temporary resident insurance producer license to qualifying individuals without requiring an examination. The individual must complete 24 hours of pre-licensing education and the fingerprinting/background check process. An application for temporary licensure must be submitted by the sponsoring insurer on the individual’s behalf. The individual must be actively appointed to that company. The temporary license is valid for no more than 180 days and cannot be renewed. It can be converted to a regular license by completion of all prerequisites for the desired lines of authority.

 

Pennsylvania | Licensing

Any license with an expiration date of 3/31/2020 or later will remain active. Late fees will not be added to the 3/31/2020 or later license renewals. Late fees incurred prior to that date must be paid. Additional time will be granted to complete CE requirements while the DOI monitors the situation. Prior reinstatements will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Reinstatements will not be generated for licenses with expiration dates of January 31, 2020, or later. Individuals or business entities with late fees already assessed that have not been placed into reinstatement will be able to renew without a break in service.

 

Pennsylvania | CE

Effective immediately and until further notice, the use of proctors in a face-to-face setting is prohibited.  Instead, virtual proctors will be permitted or if a virtual proctor is not feasible, the proctor requirement will be eliminated for all approved online courses. Providers and licensees are encouraged to monitor the Department’s website at www.insurance.pa.gov for periodic updates.

 

Pennsylvania | CE Providers

Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, all in person classroom education approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department is temporarily suspended due to the circumstances related to COVID-19. Instead, classroom courses may be offered via internet based webinar format. Providers previously approved for classroom training do not need to contact the Insurance Department to offer courses via webinar.

 

Pennsylvania | Securities | Closures

PA Dept of Banking & Securities is closed.  Operations are being maintained through electronic communication.  PA continues to accept applications for BDs/IAs and their representatives and agents.  All filings continue to go through the CRD. The state will contact via email once an application is submitted.  Questions should be directed to ra-bnsecuritieslic1@pa.gov.

 

Pennsylvania | Guidance 

The DOI is formulating guidance to be issued in the near future on the impacts due to current events.

 

Pennsylvania | Paper Filings

The state is unable to receive paper filing via mail this time due to the current events. PA is encouraging licensees to not submit any filings that are non-essential until further notice. If a filing is essential, the filing may be directed to Karen Feather (kfeather@pa.gov) in order to continue operations. Should the filing require a fee a copy of the check should be sent provided in the email. The hard copy of the check should be sent to the following address: PO Box 67330, Harrisburg, PA 17107. The hard copy of the check may not be deposited immediately.

 

Pennsylvania | License and CE Update

Licensees who are unable to complete CE requirements in time due to COVID-19 to meet their license renewal may complete a waiver.

 

Pennsylvania | Securities | Illicit Activities

PA publishes tips to avoid virus-related financial scams.

Puerto Rico | Extension of License Renewal Date

The Puerto Rico Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, (OCI), has issued a bulletin outlining the extension of producer license renewal dates due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

Puerto Rico | CE

The continuing education due date for licenses expiring in March and April, 2020 is extended to May 31, 2020, in conjunction with the expiration date for those licenses.

 

Puerto Rico | PDB Updates

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance of Puerto Rico (OCI) is updating expiration dates for all resident and non-resident licenses due to renew in March and April 2020. Effective immediately, all licenses that expired in March 2020 were updated with new expiration date of April 30, 2020 on the Producer Database (PDB). On April 30, 2020, all licenses that expire in April 2020 will be updated with a new expiration date of May 31, 2020. Provisional Authorized Representative licenses that expired between March 16, 2020 through April 30, 2020 have been extended through May 31, 2020.

 

Puerto Rico | License Renewal

All licenses that expire in March are extended until April 30, 2020. All licenses that expire in April are extended until May 31, 2020.

Rhode Island | Extension of License Renewal Period

Effective May 31, 2020, Rhode Island will change all license expiration dates set to expire May 31, 2020 to August 31, 2020.

 

Rhode Island | Licensing

Effective April 20, 2020, Rhode Island will change all license expiration dates that were originally set to expire March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Please note the license expiration date was previously
moved to April 30, 2020.

 

Rhode Island | Temp License

Rhode Island is offering a temporary license due to Covid-19. The license will automatically expire in 180 days and is not renewable.

 

Rhode Island | PDB Updates

Effective March 31, 2020, Rhode Island will change all March 31, 2020 license expiration dates to April 30, 2020. 

 

Rhode Island | CE Providers

In person classroom CE courses may be delivered virtually without refiling for approval. However, they do require providers to send an email within 30 days of the “live” virtually delivered course.

 

Rhode Island | Closures, Testing

In accordance with a series of Executive Orders declaring a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 virus, licensees with March 31st expiration dates are automatically extended until April 30th.  Licensees will receive email communication in this regard directly to the business email address associated with their license.  In addition, in-person insurance licensing exams are suspended until April 30th.  With regard to continuing education courses for resident insurance producers the state is encouraging providers to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines and virtually deliver those courses that are currently approved for in-person classroom delivery. Those courses will not require refiling for approval.  However, providers need to email to dbr.inslic@dbr.ri.gov within 30 days of the “live” virtually delivered course offering to ensure proper recording.

 

Rhode Island | License Extension 

Rhode Island automatically extends March 31 license expiration to April 30. An email will be sent to the licensee’s business email address with information.

South Carolina | Investor Advisory

The Securities Division of the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General, along with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and FINRA, have joined together to encourage investors to proceed cautiously with new investment opportunities. Investors should be aware that fraudsters may try to take advantage of the buzz surrounding companies promoting products and services related to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

South Carolina | Temp License 

Effective September 15, 2020, South Carolina will no longer issue temporary licenses due to Covid-19. Existing temporary licenses have 30 days after email notification to pass a license examination and/or submit fingerprints.

 

South Carolina | Securities | Enforcement Task Force

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to take a financial toll on individuals and the economy, the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) urges Virginians to do their homework before making any investment.
Securities regulators are stepping up efforts to protect investors during this pandemic. The Division has joined an international enforcement task force of state and other securities regulators recently organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). The focus is to protect investors from scammers seeking to capitalize on COVID-19 fears.

 

South Carolina | License, CE 

South Carolina has granted a 90 day (previously it was only 30 days) extension for all license renewals during the Covid-19 emergency. The license will expire if it is not renewed by the new extended renewal date.

Continuing education must be completed by the new extended renewal date. Continuing education may be met by completing self-study or classroom equivalent webinars. All in-person proctoring requirements are waived during the emergency.

South Carolina will immediately begin issuing temporary resident producer licenses with fingerprints or examination. Nonresidents are not eligible. Currently, an electronic application is not available. To apply for a temporary license send completed producer application, $25 application fee, paper appointment completed by sponsoring company with appropriate fee to the SC DOI.

 

South Carolina | PDB Updates

Effective March 31, 2020 South Carolina will extend the renewal period for resident and non-resident Producer licensees that have expiration dates in March and April 2020.

 

South Carolina | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Securities Division of the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.  “In these extraordinary times the health and welfare of all must be our foremost concern, and that includes our financial health. Our primary focus remains on the protection of retail investors,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson.

 

South Carolina | License Renewal

The state has provided a one month extension for licenses that expire in March and April. Licenses that expire in March are now extended through April and licenses that expire in April are extended through May.

 

South Carolina License Renewals 

The state has extended licenses that renew on March 31st to now renew on April 30th. Licensees with a current renewal date of April 30th have been extended to May 31st.

 

South Carolina | CE Providers

Due to COVID-19, South Carolina is allowing all classroom courses to be offered as webinars.  CE Rosters should be uploaded to SBS as usual.

 

South Carolina | Closures

The DOI office is open, but limiting contact with public. Please call or email.

 

South Carolina | License Renewal

The state has provided a one month extension for licenses that expire in March and April. Licenses that expire in March are now extended through April and licenses that expire in April are extended through May.

South Dakota | Temp License

Effective immediately, South Dakota will no longer accept temporary licenses due to testing issues related to Covid-19. All existing temporary licenses issued due to Covid-19 licensing issues will terminate on either the temporary license expiration date or November 13, 2020, whichever is earlier.

 

South Dakota | Temp License

South Dakota is now offering temporary major lines producer licenses for resident individuals who are unable to take an examination. The license will expire in 180 days or 60 days after the Covid-19 concludes, whichever is sooner. To obtain a temporary license, the applicant must submit a paper application, have a responsible licensed producer, submit fees and obtain an appointment.

Tennessee | Investor Alert 

The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Securities Division along with the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) are encouraging Tennessee investors to proceed cautiously when it comes to new investment opportunities as fraudsters continue to take advantage of the buzz surrounding companies promoting products and services related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Tennessee | Securities | Illicit activities

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI)’s Securities Division announced its participation in the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, an international investor protection initiative to crack down on schemes related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which Tennessee is a member, is coordinating the task force.  As part of this coordinated enforcement effort, TDCI’s Securities Division has looked to identify potential frauds early by actively researching the internet looking for advertisements for investments relating to COVID-19 or a cure for COVID-19 so these can be shut down quickly before TN consumers can be scammed.

 

Tennessee | Securities | Enforcement

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Securities Division joins the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to update the status of the work of the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, consisting of state and provincial securities regulators, to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the pandemic.
Currently, more than 100 investigators from 44 jurisdictions including the United States, Canada, and Mexico, are participating in the task force, which formed in April and is led by NASAA’s Enforcement Section and its Enforcement Technology Project Group. Director of the Financial Services Investigation Unit Michele Stone represents TDCI on NASAA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force.

 

Tennessee | Securities | Enforcement Task Force

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Securities Division is participating in the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force. Consisting of state and provincial securities regulators, the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force will identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Tennessee | License Exams and Temporary Licenses

Tennessee has announced that its exam vendor, Pearson Vue, opened physical testing locations as of May 1, 2020. Additional third party testing locations will also be activated as they become available. Information on exam sites is available on the Pearson Vue website. Because exams are available, Tennessee will no longer be issuing temporary licenses, effective May 1, 2020.

 

Tennessee | Temporary License 

Tennessee will issue temporary resident producer licenses to applicants meeting the requirements for licensure without requiring examination for life, accident and health, property, casualty, and personal lines insurance. Applicants must submit an application via NIPR and complete a fingerprinting and background check. The license will expire in 180 days unless the applicant has taken and successfully passed the appropriate exam.

 

Tennessee | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Privilege Tax Extension

The Tennessee Department of Revenue has extended the due date for filing and paying the professional privilege tax from June 1, 2020 to July 1, 2020.  Interest and late filing penalties will not be applied to returns filed and payments made on or before this extended due date.

Beginning this year, only the following professions, which are licensed in Tennessee, are subject to professional privilege tax:

  • agents, broker-dealers, and investment advisors registered under Title 48 of the Tennessee Code;
  • attorneys;
  • lobbyists; and
  • physicians and osteopathic physicians

 

Tennessee | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Securities Division is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.

 

Tennessee | Securities | General Notice

The Tennessee Securities Division remains open and fully operational.  The majority of staff is working remotely and can be reached via their office email addresses or phones.  Registrations continue to be processed and adjustments have been made to field examiner and enforcement staff operations to support social distancing.

 

Tennessee | Licensing, CE

Provisions governing issuance and renewal of licenses are suspended to the extent necessary to give the Commissioner discretion to reasonably extend the deadline for obtaining the required CE. More information will be coming.

 

Tennessee | Registration Requirements

The provisions of Tenn. Comp. R & Regs. 0780-04-03-.01(4)(d) and 0780-04-03-.01(10)(c) governing eligibility for initial registration with the Securities Division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance are suspended to the extent necessary to give the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Insurance discretion to reasonably extend the time periods for completing certain registration application requirements as necessary to respond to the effects of COVID-19.

 

Tennessee | Insurance | Closures

Office staff is working remotely.  The office is fully operational.

 

Tennessee | License Renewals 

The department has provided a reminder to licensees to renew licenses prior to the expiration.

Texas | Enforcement

On September 25, 2020, Respondent was arrested and indicted for an investment scheme tied to COVID-19.

Earlier this year, the Texas Securities Commissioner brought an action against Respondent, entering an Emergency Cease and Desist Order to protect Texans and stop the fraudulent COVID-19 investment scheme.  According to the Texas action, Respondent fraudulently promised individuals they could profit from the COVID-19 pandemic by trading in foreign currency and binary options.  Regardless of changes in the markets, Respondent was also guaranteeing the payment of returns, according to the order, saying there is “[no possible way [investors] can lose money.”

The Texas action exposed his scheme and traced his use of principal. The agency’s Enforcement Division coordinated its continued investigation with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  On September 28, the CFTC filed a civil action against Respondent in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Dallas.  The civil action is seeking restitution for victims and civil penalties.

 

Texas | Filing Relief

Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, many securities and advisory firms and their employees are temporarily conducting business from a temporary location other than their usual place of business (employee’s homes, for example).  Board Rules 115.9(a)(6) and 116.9(a)(6) require registered securities professionals (dealers and their agents and investment advisers and their representatives) to report to the Securities Commissioner within 30 days after its occurrence any change in information previously disclosed to the Securities Commissioner on any application form or filing.

 

Texas | Temp license

The Texas Department of Insurance has announced they will not be ending temporary producer or emergency adjuster licensing due to Covid-19. Temporary producer and emergency adjuster licenses will continue to be issued past August 15 and will stay in effect until further notice.

 

Texas | Securities | Extension – Temporary Office & Work Locations

Due to circumstances related to COVID-19, many securities and advisory firms and their employees are temporarily conducting business from a temporary location other than their usual place of business (employee’s homes, for example).  Board Rules 115.9(a)(6) and 116.9(a)(6) require registered securities professionals (dealers and their agents and investment advisers and their representatives) to report to the Securities Commissioner within 30 days after its occurrence any change in information previously disclosed to the Securities Commissioner on any application form or filing.

Conditions:

1. The use of a temporary location or arrangement is due to circumstances related to current or potential effects of COVID-19; and

2. If the temporary location or arrangement remains in use more than 30 days after the period covered by this waiver, the filer would need to update the Form BR, Form U-4, Form BD, or Form ADV not later than 45 days after the date this waiver terminates.

This Waiver is limited to temporary branch or work locations or space-sharing arrangements, as applicable, in use on or after March 13, 2020 but on or prior to June 30, 2020.

The June 30, 2020 date in the initial waiver has been extended to September 30, 2020.

 

Texas | Securities | Enforcement

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today updated the status of the work of the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, consisting of state and provincial securities regulators, to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the pandemic. Since March 1st, the Texas State Securities Board has opened more than 145 investigations into suspect securities fraud or otherwise illegal investment opportunities in Texas. The Securities Commissioner has brought a number of actions to protect Texans from fraud, including 10 enforcement orders against 16 respondents accused of illegally offering securities to Texans. The agency has referred 3 criminal cases to local prosecutors, a grand jury handed down indictments against a securities promoter accused of stealing money and authorities arrested another suspect accused of fraud.

 

Texas | Temp License 

The Texas Department of Insurance has announced they will return to normal temporary license processing on August 15, 2020. Anyone with a temporary license issued prior to August 15 will have until November 13 to obtain a regular license.

 

Texas | Securities | Task Force

The national association for state securities regulators on April 28 announced the formation of the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The task force will work with the U.S. state and Canadian provincial securities regulators that constitute the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). The task force objective is to proactively identify COVID-19 related threats to investors.

Texas | License Exam

Texas has opened select insurance examination locations where social distancing is possible.

 

Texas | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Branch

The Securities Commissioner determined that a filer that would otherwise be required to update a filing (including but not limited to Form BR, Form U-4, Form BD, or Form ADV (Part 1A or Schedule D)) solely to report a change in the office of employment address of an employee, agent, or representative, or any newly opened temporary branch or office location during the covered time period and who meets the conditions set out below will not be penalized or sanctioned for not updating a filing to reflect a temporary branch or work location or space-sharing arrangement.

A registered firm using remote or temporary work locations during the pandemic is reminded that it may need to modify and document changes to its supervisory procedures and systems to ensure the firm maintains compliance with Board Rules 115.10 and/or 116.10.

Time Period Covered: This Waiver is limited to temporary branch or work locations or space-sharing arrangements, as applicable, in use on or after March 13, 2020 but on or prior to June 30, 2020.

Conditions:

  1. The use of a temporary location or arrangement is due to circumstances related to current or potential effects of COVID-19; and
  2. If the temporary location or arrangement remains in use more than 30 days after the period covered by this waiver, the filer would need to update the Form BR, Form U-4, Form BD, or Form ADV not later than 45 days after the date this waiver terminates.

 

Texas | Securities | Regulatory Relief, Filing & Delivery

The Securities Commissioner determined that a Texas-registered investment adviser or Texas notice-filing exempt reporting adviser who is otherwise required to make a filing in the covered time period and who meets the conditions set out below will not be penalized or sanctioned for making a late filing or delivery of Form ADV, Form PF, and/or a disclosure statement/brochure to customers.

Time Period Covered: This Waiver is limited to filing or delivery obligations, as applicable, for which the original due date is on or after March 13, 2020 but on or prior to June 30, 2020.

Conditions:

  1. A Texas-registered investment adviser, or an exempt reporting adviser relying on Board Rule 139.23, is unable to meet a filing deadline or delivery requirement due to circumstances related to current or potential effects of COVID-19;
  2. The adviser relying on this Waiver must provide the Securities Commissioner via email at submissions@ssb.texas.gov and promptly disclose on its public website (or if it does not have a public website, promptly notify its clients and/or private fund investors of) the following information:
  • that it is relying on this Waiver; and
  • that it could not file or deliver its Form ADV, Form PF, and/or its disclosure statement/brochure required by Board Rule 116.11, on a timely basis; and
  • The adviser relying on this Waiver files the Form ADV, Form PF, and/or provides the disclosure statement/brochure as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days after the original due date for such filing or delivery.

 

Texas | Securities | Pandemic-related Enforcement

Texas Securities Commissioner Travis J. Iles on April 17 entered an emergency action to stop a supposed foreign currency trader from soliciting Texas residents with the claim they can “profit off the coronavirus with forex.”

According to the Emergency Cease and Desist Order, a Georgia resident is advertising investments in a forex trading program in the financial services section of craigslist.org sites for Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Respondent’s most recent craigslist ad claims “the stock market is crumbling,” according to the order.

Respondent is violating the Texas Securities Act by offering securities without being registered as a dealer or agent. The investments in the forex and binary option trading program aren’t registered for sale in Texas.

 

Texas | Securities | Pandemic-related Enforcement

Texas Issues Emergency Cease & Desist Order Relating to Cryptocurrency Miner Featuring Fraudulent COVID-19 Charity Sales Pitch.  A cryptocurrency mining company is promising to double investors’ money in one year while also claiming to contribute money to UNICEF to “fight COVID-19,” according to an emergency action the Texas State Securities Board took April 8.  According to the Emergency Cease and Desist Order, the LLC claims it has already raised $18 million from Texas residents for investments in computing power to mine cryptocurrencies. The Texas action was brought jointly with the Alabama Securities Commission to stop the ongoing illegal offering.

 

Texas | Securities | Enforcement, Illicit Activity 

Texas took emergency action on April 3 to stop the offering of a purported foreign currency trader promising a “safe haven” investment in a time when world markets are roiled by the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to the Emergency Cease and Desist Order, a Florida resident is soliciting Texas residents for a foreign currency trading program that he claims will return up to 11% a month, “basically risk-free.”

The order is the first action taken by a state securities regulator against a promoter using COVID-19 as a tactic to lure investors, and it comes a little more than a week after the Texas State Securities Board issued the Investor Alert, Protecting Your Financial Health in the Pandemic Era, warning of a proliferation of schemes tied to the pandemic.

 

Texas | Securities | Illicit activity warning

Texas issues investor alert warning of illicit activities and providing investing tips for protecting your financial health in a pandemic era.

 

Texas | Securities | General Announcement

Texas has provided an update on it’s operations in response to the virus.  They have transitioned majority of employees to teleworking, but remains fully operational.  In-person meetings have been temporarily suspended; agency continues to meet its obligations in the areas of registration, examination and enforcement; accepting calls and emails; online filing options are still available.

 

Texas | Securities | Investor Alert

Texas Publishes Investor Alert Relating to Protecting Financial Health in the Pandemic Era.

 

Texas | Securities | Investment and Illicit Activity Guidance

Texas has provided investor news highlighting investment guidance and illicit threats that must be considered during virus event.

 

Texas | Securities | Regulatory Relief

Texas issues filing extension relief for IAs.  Texas-registered investment adviser or Texas notice-filing exempt reporting adviser who is otherwise required to make a filing on or after March 13, 2020 but on or prior to April 30, 2020 and who  meets the conditions set forth by the state will not be penalized or sanctioned for making a late filing or delivery of Form ADV, Form PF, and/or a disclosure statement/brochure to customers.  The adviser relying on this Waiver must meet certain conditions described in the order and notify the Securities Commissioner via email at submissions@ssb.texas.gov among other things.

 

Texas | Licensing, Renewal, CE

Licenses renewing between March 31 and April 30 may renew before May 31 without late fees or CE fines. Licenses that expired prior to Feb. 29 have until May 31 to renew.

Temporary License requirements: all remain active until further notice, $100 fee waived, fingerprints are delayed/waived, training may be done by “classroom equivalent” webinar, 70% exam requirement is waived.

Texas will issue emergency adjuster licenses until testing and fingerprint sites reopen.

 

Texas | Closures

Texas is working to ease license requirements. More information will come as decisions are made.

 

Texas | Insurance | Closures

Most of the Texas DOI staff is working remote, but they are accessible via phone and email.

 

Texas | Licensing, CE

The dept. is working on easing the agent and adjuster licensing requirements. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Utah | Temporary Producer Licensing

The Utah Insurance Department has announced that its testing vendor, Prometric, will open test centers in Utah on June 1, 2020. This eliminates the need for temporary licenses. Effective June 15, 2020, the Department will no longer accept applications for temporary resident individual producer licenses. Any application pending on June 15, 2020, will be processed in the ordinary course of business unless withdrawn. Individuals may submit an application for a regular two-year resident individual producer license effective June 1, 2020.

As a reminder, current temporary licenses are valid for 180 days from the date of issuance and will become inactive if the holder obtains regular license before the end of the temporary license period.

 

Utah | Temporary Producer License

Utah will issue a temporary resident insurance producer license to qualifying individuals without requiring an examination. The applicant must have successfully completed 40 hours of training in the line(s) of authority sought as identified in the Exam Content Outlines of the Utah Insurance Department License Information Bulletin. The temporary applicant must be sponsored by a licensed insurance company or licensed agency producer, and must be supervised on the job by a licensed individual producer who is affiliated with the sponsoring insurance company or agency.

A temporary license will be valid for 180 days.

Vermont | Remote License Exams 

Vermont has made remotely proctored insurance licensing exams available through its exam vendor.

 

Vermont | CE

Vermont will allow providers to deliver currently approved classroom courses via webinar without having to re-file those courses with DFR. Providers will not be required to submit separate course applications for these webinar courses prior to delivering these courses to students.

For online courses where a proctor is required, Department of Financial Regulation has created the Continuing Education Attestation of Personal Responsibility Form. This form will require individuals to attest that they have not received outside assistance while completing the online course exam. Providers must collect this form from the student in a method determined by the provider prior to electronically banking/submitting credits to Prometric.

 

Vermont | Licensing

For adjuster license renewals expiring March 31, 2020, a grace period will be granted through April 15, 2020, to account for processing challenges presented by COVID-19.

 

Vermont | CE

Until further notice, Vermont will allow providers to deliver currently approved classroom courses via webinar without having to refile the courses.  For online courses where a proctor is required, DFR has created the Continuing Education Attestation of Personal Responsibility Form.  This form will require individuals to attest that they have not received outside assistance when completing the online course exam.  Providers must collect this form from the student in a method determined by the provider prior to electronically banking/submitting credits to Prometric.

 

Vermont | Adjusters

Any WC adjuster who was granted a CE extension, was planning to attend the WC adjuster CE program in May 2020, and now cannot travel due to COVID-19, should contact the DFR ASAP and before 3/31/2020 to request another extension to attend the next available program.

 

Vermont | Insurance | Closures

The majority of staff is working remotely. Mail is being received and checks are being processed in-office. This is effective until 3/31/2020 or until governor’s guidance changes.

 

Vermont | Form ADV Extension

Vermont has extended the annual Form ADV filing requirement to April 30, 2020.

 

Vermont | Producer and Adjuster Licensing Periods 

For producer licenses there are no changes since these renew in 2021. Adjusters who have a license expiring as of 3/31/2020 will have a grace period until 4/15/2020 to account for application processing challenges.

Virginia | Securities | Illicit activities

Despite hundreds of COVID-related investment scams nationwide, Virginia has, fortunately, experienced almost none. The Division points to its membership in NASAA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, which it joined in May as one example of the preemptive steps it has taken to help protect Virginia investors from COVID-related investment scams. The Task Force consists of securities regulators from the United States, Canada and Mexico, who exchange information and are working toward the same goal.

 

Virginia | Securities | Investor protection

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant market volatility during the past several months, leaving many individuals looking for safe places to put their hard-earned money and still earn a return. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) urges Virginians to use caution when considering investments in exempt securities offerings, also known as private placements.

 

Virginia | Securities | Illicit activities, financial exploitation

In conjunction with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) reminds Virginians that extended isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic may create a perfect storm for financial exploitation of senior citizens.

Each year, senior citizens lose billions of dollars to financial fraud, with the loss to individual victims averaging tens of thousands of dollars. “Social isolation has long been a leading factor contributing to the financial exploitation of older investors,” said Division Director Ron Thomas. “Social distancing and the unprecedented quarantines designed to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus have greatly increased social isolation for many seniors, making them more vulnerable to financial exploitation. Perpetrators may be strangers, family members, trusted friends and financial professionals or others.”

 

Virginia | Examination

Beginning June 1, 2020, Virginia will start administering all insurance exams through Prometric. Test dates for both online, remotely proctored and in-person examination will be available for scheduling with Prometric starting on April 30 for test dates on or after June 1, 2020.

 

Virginia | Securities | General Guidance

Virginia issues COVID-19 Procedures: All business with the Commission should be through electronic filing systems, email, or by telephone. For public health safety, in-person visits to SCC offices are suspended. Filings or other deliveries are permitted by drop off at main entrance. On-site staff is minimal and processing of such deliveries may be delayed.

 

Virginia | Licensing

The Virginia Bureau of Insurance has announced that applicants now have 90 day to submit required documentation. Further, application processing may exceed 15 business days.

 

Virginia | PDB Updates

Effective April 1, 2020 Virginia will update license expiration dates for firm Insurance Producers and Limited Lines Firm Producers. Consultants, Surplus Line Brokers, Title Settlement and Viatical Settlement Brokers will also receive new expiration dates upon renewal of license.

 

Virginia | Closures, Testing

The Virginia DOI is operating on reduced on-site staffing. Pearson Vue exam centers are closed, but some third-part sites remain open.

 

Virginia | License Applications

License candidates will receive information on how to reschedule existing appointments. The deadline to submit required documentation with the license applications has been extended from 30 to 90 days. Processing of applications may exceed 15 business days due to the current events.

 

Virginia | Securities | Illicit Activities

VA warns Virginians to beware of virus-related illicit activities.

Washington | Securities | Guidance / Information

Washington State publishes Fall 2020 newsletter containing news and updates from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). This issue features; an update on COVID-19 Scams, State and Federal Banking Regulator COVID-19 Guidance, Investing though Mobile Trading Apps, Information on Cryptocurrency, On-line Financial Education Information, and an overview of the NASAA Model Whistleblower Award and Protection Act.

 

Washington | Webinars – Emergency rule 

The emergency rule allowing the state to expedite webinar approvals expires on July 31, 2020.

That means webinars will be processed just like classroom and self-study courses again. The Washington regulation for course approvals specifies that there is a 20 day period from the date the state receives the course application to the effective date of the course.

The emergency rule temporarily waived the 20 days period for webinars. It applies again after July 31.

Also, after July 31, the state will no longer waive the webinar application forms for a webinar that is based on an approved classroom course.

 

Washington | Securities | Illicit activities

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption and anxiety to individuals and the financial markets. Because fraudsters often try to capitalize on current issues and problems to promote their scams, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) issued an updated investor alert on exempt securities offerings, also known as “private placements,” in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Washington | License and Exam 

A licensee (producer or adjuster) whose license expires between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020, and who has experienced a hardship due to COVID-19 may submit a request to extend the license expiration date to July 31, 2020. Requests must be emailed to licinfo@oic.wa.gov. This extension will also give the licensee additional time to complete their required continuing education. If a licensee has paid a late fee for license renewal during this period, they may be eligible for a refund of the late fee. Washington will also extend the expiration date of a pre-licensing education certificate or exam result that expires between March 23, 2020, and June 30, 2020, to July 31, 2020. Licensees are reminded that Washington’s exam vendor offers online insurance exams.

 

Washington | Securities | CARES Act Guidance

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Securities Division (DFI), issues guidance on the loan programs available to eligible employers under the CARES Act (CARES Act loan).  Based on the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak affecting state registered investment advisers (Adviser), DFI has received a number of inquiries from Advisers regarding CARES Act loans and their impact to the net worth requirements prescribed in WAC 460-24A-170 for investment advisers.

 

Washington | Securities | No Action Relief

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting financial professionals, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Securities Division (DFI) will take no action to enforce the registration and other provisions of the Securities Act relating to registration requirements, signatures, and filing requirements.

 

Washington | Securities | Notice Filings

Washington State Issues Notice Concerning Signature Requirements on Applications & Notice Filings During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Description: The Securities Division has received a number of inquiries regarding signature requirements in connection with required applications and notice filings during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Securities Division requires all franchise filings to be made electronically through our online electronic filing system. This system allows filers to upload .pdf copies of the required documents to our system. We do not require “wet” signatures. We also do not require “wet” signatures for securities registration applications and exemption notice filings. Where a signature is required, copies of signed documents, including .pdf copies, will suffice.

In addition, we are waiving any notary requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Washington | Operations

DOI office buildings closed until further notice.

 

Washington | Insurance | Closures

The offices are closed to visitors.

 

Washington | CE Providers

Temporary change for Washington CE rules due to COVID-19 allow for an expedited approval of webinar delivery of a currently approved classroom course.  Email a course list to Washington and they will be given new approval IDs for webinar delivery method.

 

Washington | Securities | Illicit Activity

State issues warning to beware of virus-related illicit activities.

West Virginia | Securities | Regulatory Relief

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting broker-dealers, state registered investment advisers, federal covered investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives (collectively, “financial professionals”), the West Virginia Securities Commission is adopting this Emergency Order pursuant to West Virginia Code §32-4-412 to extend temporarily relief for certain registration and filing requirements, physical signatures on Forms U4, annual update. This Emergency Order shall remain in effect until such time as the Governor lifts all relevant COVID-19 related restrictions.

 

West Virginia | Exam and Licensing Update

The West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner has announced that as its testing and fingerprinting vendors have begun to open their facilities and are currently operating at 50% capacity, there is no longer a need for temporary licensure of producers. All temporary licenses issued pursuant to Bulletin No. 20-06 shall expire and be null and void at midnight, August 31, 2020, at which time anyone holding such temporary license will no longer be licensed, will immediately revert to the status of applicant, and must complete all the usual requirements for licensure in order to obtain a producer license.

 

West Virginia | Test Center Openings

The West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner, (OIC), has posted information to their website regarding testing center and fingerprinting location openings as of May 1st, 2020.

 

West Virginia | Securities | Regulatory Relief Extended 

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting broker-dealers, state registered investment advisers, federal covered investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives (collectively, “financial professionals”), the West Virginia Securities Commission is adopting this Emergency Order pursuant to West Virginia Code §32-4-412 to extend temporarily relief for certain registration and filing requirements, physical signatures on Forms U4, annual update ADV filings.

Financial professionals who rely on any provision of this Emergency Order shall keep a copy of the Order in their records to document their reliance on it. Any activities that do not meet the conditions outlined above may be treated by the West Virginia Securities Commission as non-exempt and may constitute unregistered securities activity subject to state enforcement action.

Financial professionals who relying on any provision of this Emergency Order must retain a copy of the Order in their records to document their reliance on it.  This Emergency Order remains effective until May 31, 2020, unless extended or rescinded.

 

West Virginia | Licensing

Due to the lack of examination testing, West Virginia is extending the validity of all pre-licensing certificates from 4 months to 6 months.

 

West Virginia | Registration & Notice Filing

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting broker-dealers, state registered investment advisers, federal covered investment advisers, and their registered agents or representatives (collectively, “financial professionals”), the West Virginia Securities Commission is adopting this Emergency Order pursuant to West Virginia Code §32-4-412 to temporarily grant the relief.

 

West Virginia | Adjuster Licensing

The state issued activation of emergency adjuster licensing.

 

West Virginia | CE Providers

Effective immediately, all providers will be allowed to deliver currently approved classroom courses via webinar without having to refile for a separate approval.  Providers will be required to submit a request to Prometric with the course information and a detailed explanation about how attendance will be monitored.  Email to CESupportTeam@Prometric.com with the subject line “West Virginia COVID-19 Conversion Request.  Proctor requirements are still in place.  The use of tools such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other similar products will be allowed for remote proctoring.  These accommodations will be in place until such time as the Office of the Insurance Commissioner deems necessary.

 

West Virginia | Closures, Testing

Closed testing centers and fingerprint centers are creating a backlog. Guidance will be coming.

 

West Virgina | Insurance | Closures

The Commissioner will issue a temporary producer license to applicants for a producer license, on a case-by-case basis, without requiring testing or fingerprinting, where it is determined that applicants are unable to complete the requisite testing or obtain fingerprinting due to third-party vendor operations suspensions or closures. Temporary licenses will be issued for a period of up to 180 days and will be subject to being sooner rescinded depending upon the duration of the current events.

Wisconsin | Enforcement

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today announced its participation in the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, an international investor protection initiative to crackdown on investment schemes related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which DFI is a member, is coordinating the task force.

As part of this coordinated enforcement effort, DFI reviewed more than 100 domain names related to COVID-19 that targeted Wisconsin investors, opened three investigations, and issued one cease and desist order. With 111 investigators representing 44 jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force represents the largest coordinated enforcement initiative undertaken by state and provincial securities regulators. So far, the task force has disrupted more than 200 schemes related to the pandemic.

 

Wisconsin | Securities | Enforcement

Among other things, respondent violated Wis. Stat. § 551.501(1) when he employed a device, scheme, or artifice to defraud prospective investors through the offer of profit-sharing plans, and falsely representing he could sustain returns in excess of $6,000.00 per week because of panic induced in the stock market due to the COVID19 pandemic.

 

Wisconsin | Securities | Illicit activities, financial exploitation

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) reminds financial professionals and the people of Wisconsin that heightened isolation and increased loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for senior financial exploitation.
While financial abuse can happen at any time, perpetrators often strike during times in a senior’s life when they may be more vulnerable, such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. Scammers often gather personal details from obituaries and social media posts and use this information to target their victims. Some even will exploit trust within seniors’ social and support groups to become more involved in their lives.

 

Wisconsin | Securities | Investor protection

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issues investor advisory on exempt securities offerings, also known as “private placements,” in light of the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and fraudsters trying to capitalize on current events.

 

Wisconsin | CE Waiver 

The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has extended the previously announced continuing education waiver for licensees whose licenses expire in March, to include licenses that expire in April and May 2020, for individuals who have been unable to complete classes online. The CE requirements will be effective again beginning for licenses expiring June 30, 2020.

 

Wisconsin | Securities | Enforcement Task Force

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) announced it has joined an international enforcement task force organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to investigate fraudsters looking to capitalize during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Wisconsin | Remote License Exams 

Wisconsin has made remotely proctored agent licensing exams available through its exam vendor.

 

Wisconsin | Securities | Registration, Signatures, Filing, Deliver

Given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and dislocations affecting broker-dealers, investment advisers, federal covered advisers and their registered agents or representatives the Administrator has adopted this Emergency Order to grant temporary relief in the following:

  • Registration or Filing Relief
  • Relief from Requirement to Obtain Physical Signatures on Form U4
  • Relief from Annual Update Filings and Document Delivery Requirements by State-Registered Investment Advisers
  • Coordinating Information and Enforcement

 

Wisconsin | Securities | Illicit Activity Warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes, particularly in light of the upcoming federal relief payments to eligible individuals.

 

Wisconsin | CE

Effective immediately, a Wisconsin resident whose license expires on March 31, 2020 or April 30, 2020, and who is not CE compliant, will be granted a CE waiver.

 

Wisconsin | Closures

Wisconsin examiners are equipped to work remotely and began doing so this week. In the coming weeks, we may initiate exams that are due to take place, but will hold-off on scheduling onsite visits, instead conducting interviews by phone.

 

Wisconsin | Courses

Wisconsin has temporarily waived the requirement that lcourses be completed with a proctor present.  Agents must complete an Attestation form. 

 

Wisconsin | CE Providers

Continuing Education providers are permitted to deliver classroom courses via webinar without refiling. Providers must provide a list of courses. The provider must collect a special form from attendees to attest no outside help was received.   Waiver of CE requirements for resident licenses expiring 3/31/20 for licensees unable to complete online.

 

Wisconsin | License Renewal

The state encourages timely completion of CE however will allow for a CE waiver for licenses that expire as of 3/31/2020. The department will reassess the situation in April.

Wyoming | Licensing, CE

Wyoming will consider waiving late/reinstatement fees for licensees affected by Covid-19. Email DOI to make request.


Federal Activity

Developments from the SEC, FINRA, MSRB, and other federal regulatory agencies.

                 

FinCEN | Advisory

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is issuing this advisory to help save lives, and to protect the most vulnerable in our society from predators and cowards who prey on the innocent and defenseless for money and greed. This advisory supplements the 2014 FinCEN Guidance on Recognizing Activity that May be Associated with Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking – Financial Red Flags (“2014 Advisory”).

To help identify and report transactions possibly associated with human trafficking, FinCEN has identified 10 new financial red flag indicators. These red flags do not replace the red flags identified in the 2014 Advisory, all of which remain relevant. The Financial Action Task Force report on the “Financial Flows from Human Trafficking” also provides numerous indicators of money laundering related to human trafficking.

 

FinCEN | Advisory

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is issuing this advisory to alert financial institutions to unemployment insurance (UI) fraud observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many illicit actors are engaged in fraudulent schemes that exploit vulnerabilities created by the pandemic. This advisory contains descriptions of COVID19-related UI fraud, associated financial red flag indicators, and information on reporting suspicious activity. This advisory is based on FinCEN’s analysis of COVID-19- related information obtained from Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data, open source reporting, and law enforcement partners.

 

FinCEN | Economy

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Kenneth A. Blanco delivered remarks virtually at the ACAMS AML Conference. He discussed FinCEN’s response to the global health crisis, shared the latest trends that FinCEN is seeing related to COVID-19 and related frauds, and provided an update on FinCEN’s efforts in other key areas.

 

FinCEN | Advisory Cybercrime Spanish Language Version 

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has made available a Spanish language version of its Advisory on Cybercrime and Cyber-Enabled Crime Exploiting the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was issued in English on July 30, 2020.

 

FinCEN | Advisory – COVID related scams

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory today to alert financial institutions to potential indicators of imposter scams and money mule schemes, which are two forms of consumer fraud observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The advisory contains descriptions of these scams and schemes, financial red flag indicators for both, and information on reporting suspicious activity.

 

FinCEN | Illicit activities

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is issuing this advisory to alert financial institutions to rising medical scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This advisory contains descriptions of COVID-19-related medical scams, case studies, red flags, and information on reporting suspicious activity.

This is the first of several advisories FinCEN intends to issue concerning financial crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These advisories are based on FinCEN’s analysis of COVID-19-related information obtained through public reports, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data, and law enforcement partners. FinCEN will issue financial analyses and intelligence, as appropriate, to financial institutions to help them detect, prevent, and report suspected illicit activity. Additionally, FinCEN has temporarily expanded its Rapid Response Program, which supports law enforcement and financial institutions in the recovery of funds stolen via fraud, theft, and other financial crimes related to COVID-19.

 

FinCEN | Illicit activities

Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Kenneth A. Blanco addressed the Consensus Blockchain Conference, which was held virtually this year. He discussed FinCEN’s efforts to provide guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic; the Travel Rule and trends FinCEN is seeing with respect to compliance; and opportunities for collaboration in the fight against the illicit use of virtual currencies and key challenges.

 

FinCEN | General Announcement

This notice updates the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN’s) March 16, 2020 COVID-19 Notice, provides additional information to assist financial institutions in complying with their Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and announces a direct contact mechanism for urgent COVID-19-related issues.  FinCEN recognizes financial institutions face challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, FinCEN is committed to promoting the success of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the need to facilitate expeditious disbursal of CARES Act funds.  Accordingly, FinCEN will issue further information, as appropriate, as the CARES Act is implemented and questions arise.

 

FinCEN | Illicit Activities

FinCEN reminds firms to remain alert to virus-related illicit activities.  Firms are requested to contact FinCEN and their functional regulator as soon as practicable if there are concerns about any potential delays associated with filing required BSA reports.  Virus-related illicit activity trends currently detected include imposter scams, investment scams, product scams and insider trading.

FINRA | Notice

A key element in any firm’s cybersecurity program is a robust authentication process, i.e., the method that confirms that an authorized user seeking access to a firm’s information technology systems is who they say they are. This process typically relies on one or more “factors,” such as a password or personal identification number (PIN) code, to provide the authentication. The importance of sound authentication techniques to protect investors’ and firms’ confidential information has increased in light of 1) escalating threats to the most commonly used form of authentication (single factor or password-based authentication) and 2) firms responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with work arrangements that typically require registered representatives to log in to their networks from a remote location.

 

FINRA | Research 

Despite dramatic market volatility related to the COVID-19 pandemic during early 2020, investor optimism about the stock market remained high, and one in five Americans indicated an increased interest in investing, according to a new research study by the FINRA Foundation and NORC at the University of Chicago. At the same time, low levels of investment knowledge underscore the need for additional investment education opportunities, especially among African Americans and Hispanics, the research shows.

The study results are reported in two research briefs published today in recognition of World Investor Week 2020, a global weeklong campaign held Oct. 5-11, but celebrated throughout the entire month of October due to the ongoing pandemic. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of investor education and protection.

 

FINRA | Investor Alert

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and FINRA have joined to encourage investors to proceed cautiously with new investment opportunities considering the potential for fraudsters to take advantage of the buzz surrounding companies promoting products and services related to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

FINRA | Regulatory Relief Extension, Exams

FINRA and NASAA have recognized the challenges our test candidates have faced during this COVID-19 pandemic and extended all enrollment windows, most recently on August 24, through the same end date of September 30, 2020. In addition, on July 13, FINRA and NASAA announced that candidates and firms may schedule online test appointments for FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, and Series 7 exams and NASAA’s Series 63, Series 65 and Series 66 exams. During August and September, FINRA has continued to work with Prometric to add online and test center appointment availability, which now exceeds the availability needed to satisfy open enrollments.

FINRA and NASAA will provide one additional extension of enrollment windows for the SIE, Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, Series 65 and Series 66 that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and October 16, 2020. The exam enrollment end dates will be extended through the same end date of October 16, 2020. Affected enrollment windows will be systematically updated and reflected in CRD on September 29, 2020. All candidates should note that FINRA and NASAA do not contemplate any further extension of exam enrollment windows for these exams.

FINRA and Prometric continue to make the health and well-being of our community a top priority. While Prometric has resumed testing in most of its U.S. and Canada test centers, at either full or limited occupancy, FINRA and the MSRB understand that some candidates for exams that are not available online (such as the Series 24 and Series 53 exams) are not yet ready to take their exams in a test center. Therefore, for exams not available online, FINRA and the MSRB will extend all enrollment windows that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and November 16, 2020. FINRA and the MSRB exam enrollment end dates will be extended through the same end date of November 16, 2020. Affected enrollment windows will be systematically updated and reflected in CRD on September 29, 2020. FINRA and the MSRB will continue to assess this situation and consider whether any additional extension of their exam enrollment windows is necessary.

With the initial rollout of online testing earlier this year, online test candidates did not have the ability to review previously answered questions and make changes. Recently, FINRA changed this policy to be consistent with the test center experience; now candidates who take an exam online will be able to review questions that they had previously answered and make changes. In addition, most testing accommodations have been available only for appointments delivered at a test center. However, additional time can now be administered to online exam appointments for candidates with an approved special accommodation or limited English proficiency (LEP) request. FINRA is testing various provisions to make additional online delivery accommodations available to candidates with disabilities.

 

FINRA | In-person arbitration and mediation proceedings postponement

In response to the evolving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), FINRA has decided to administratively postpone all in-person arbitration and mediation proceedings scheduled through December 4, 2020 unless the parties stipulate to proceed telephonically or by Zoom or the panel orders that the hearings will take place telephonically or by Zoom.

 

FINRA | Temporary Rule Proposal 

The SEC seeks comments on FINRA proposed rule change to temporarily amend FINRA Rules 1015, 9261, 9524 and 9830 to grant FINRA’s Office of Hearing Officers (“OHO”) and the National Adjudicatory Council (“NAC”) authority  to conduct hearings in connection with appeals of Membership Application Program decisions, disciplinary actions, eligibility proceedings and temporary and permanent cease and desist orders by video conference, if warranted by the current COVID-19-related public health risks posed by an in-person hearing. As proposed, these temporary amendments would be in effect through December 31, 2020.

FINRA has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness. The implementation date will be 30 days after the date of filing.

 

FINRA | Regulatory Relief, video conference hearings

FINRA Temporarily Amends Rules Granting Authority to Video Conference Certain OHO & NAC Hearings

 

FINRA | Regulatory Relief Extension

FINRA is proposing to continue the temporary relief  provided through the FAQs by adopting Rules 1210.12 and 1220.07 to extend the 120-day period during which an individual can function as a principal or Operations Professional before having to pass an applicable qualification examination until December 31, 2020.

 

FINRA | Regulatory Relief Extension

FINRA is filing with the SEC a proposed rule change to extend the expiration date of the temporary amendments in SR-FINRA-2020-015 from July 31, 2020, to a date to be specified in a public notice issued by FINRA, which date will be at least two weeks from the date of the notice, and no later than December 31, 2020.  The proposed rule change would not make any changes to the text of FINRA rules.

FINRA has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness.

 

FINRA | Supervision

FINRA Virtual Conference Panel discusses continued impact of the coronavirus on firm and FINRA operations, recent conversations around racial justice in America and more.  Panelists include CEO Robert Cook, Member Supervision Head Bari Havlik and Chief Legal Officer Bob Colby.  Panel is moderated by Chip Jones, head of Member Relations and Education.

 

FINRA | Exam Updates

As previously announced, FINRA and NASAA have been working together to deliver an online testing service for candidates seeking to take qualification exams remotely. Beginning July 13, candidates and firms may schedule online test appointments for FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, and Series 7 exams and NASAA’s Series 63, Series 65 and Series 66 exams.

FINRA and NASAA anticipate high demand for online test appointments and recognize the challenges associated with accommodating the current demand driven by months of COVID-19 restrictions. Online appointments will be limited initially so we can monitor program performance under increased volume and adjust if necessary. We expect to be able to increase appointment availability during the months of July and August. FINRA and NASAA encourage firms and candidates to utilize a combination of online testing as well as testing at an available local test center as we work with Prometric to increase online capacity. More information on test center openings and availability can be found on Prometric’s website.

To be eligible for an online test appointment, candidates must not have a concurrent appointment at a test center and must meet technical and remote environment requirements. Candidates who currently have appointments to take an exam at a test center but wish to change to an online test appointment should make sure they can meet the above-stated requirements and be aware of any rescheduling policies before cancelling a test center appointment. In addition, firms considering online test delivery through their network and firm-issued equipment should review the technical requirements pertaining to equipment, networking and information security.

As a reminder, as previously announced, all FINRA-administered exam enrollment windows that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and August 2020 have been extended through the same end date of August 31, 2020.

 

FINRA | FAQs Udpate – Supervision

FINRA Updates the following FAQs on Supervision:

  • Q: May firms have additional time to complete and submit their Rule 3120 Report?
  • Q: May firms have additional time to execute their Rule 3130 certification?

FINRA | FAQ Update – Fingerprint

FINRA has updated information and responses to FAQs on Fingerprinting requirements due to the June 26, 2020 SEC Order extending the temporary exemption relating to fingerprinting.

  • Information- SEC Provides Temporary Exemptive Relief from Fingerprinting Requirements for, Among Others, Members and All of Their Associated Persons; FINRA Provides Additional Temporary Extension of Time for Submission of Fingerprint Information for Registered Persons Under Rule 1010(d).
  • FAQ- FINRA Rule 1010(d) requires members to submit fingerprint information for an individual applicant no later than 30 days after FINRA receives the applicant’s Form U4. In the interim, the individual’s registration may be deemed effective pending receipt of the fingerprint information. If the information is not submitted within 30 days, the individual’s registration is deemed inactive and the individual must immediately cease performing any registered activities. Due to the limitations and restrictions imposed as a result of the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), our firm is unable to submit fingerprint information for applicants within the 30-day period under Rule 1010(d). Is FINRA considering extending the 30-day period to address this issue?
  • FAQ- Will non-registered associated persons who are required to be fingerprinted (NRFs) also receive additional time to submit their fingerprint information?

FINRA | FAQ Update – Registration

FINRA updates response to question on Individual Registration and Verification of Form U4 Information

FINRA | FAQ Update – Exams

FINRA updates FAQs on Temporary Extension of Time Under Rule 1220(b)(3)(B) (Qualifications) and Availability of Waiver Process for Qualification Examinations

FINRA | Regulatory Relief, On-site branch office inspection

FINRA is filing with the SEC a proposed rule change to adopt temporary Supplementary Material .16 (Temporary Extension of Time to Complete Office Inspections) under FINRA Rule 3110 (Supervision) that, in light of the operational challenges member firms are facing due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), would extend the time by which member firms must complete their calendar year 2020 inspection obligations under Rule 3110(c) (Internal Inspections) to March 31, 2021.

FINRA | Regulatory relief extension

FINRA is filing with the SEC a proposed rule change, for immediate effectiveness, to extend the effective date of the temporary amendments set forth in SR-FINRA-2020-015 from June 15, 2020 to July 31, 2020.  The proposed rule change would not make any changes to the text of FINRA rules.

In response to the impacts on FINRA’s operations caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), SR-FINRA-2020-015 temporarily modified some timing, method of service and other procedural requirements in FINRA rules through June 15, 2020.

FINRA | Illicit activities

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike any other crisis in recent history, and that presents an opportunity to criminals who are flexible and adaptable. That means firms and regulators must be flexible and adaptable too.

In his first week on the job, Greg Ruppert, the new head of the National Cause and Financial Crimes Detection Programs (NCFC), created a COVID-19 Task Force to help FINRA tackle emerging issues to quickly protect investors and to maintain the integrity of our markets.

On this episode, Greg joins us to tell us more about the task force, how firms can identify, detect and mitigate emerging threats and the importance of adopting a “one team, one fight” approach.

FINRA | Investor Protection

FINRA, NASAA and SEC Staff have joined together to provide this warning to investors about promoters targeting retirement accounts, as well as to provide a few key considerations for investors thinking of using 401(k) withdrawals or loans to purchase securities.

The CARES Act of 2020 provides significant relief for businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes allowing retirement investors affected by the coronavirus to gain access to up to $100,000 of their retirement savings without being subject to early withdrawal penalties and with an expanded window for paying the income tax they owe on the amounts they withdraw.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous promoters have used these CARES Act benefits to encourage investors to take money from their 401(k)s or traditional IRAs, not for current emergency financial needs, but to buy investments (often riskier ones) in an account at a firm the promoter recommends or in the investor’s existing account.

FINRA | Qualification exams

To address the potential additional impact on exam candidates resulting from test center capacity issues, FINRA will extend all enrollment windows that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and August 2020. Each FINRA-administered exam enrollment end date will be extended through the same end date of August 31, 2020. This accommodation will allow FINRA to distribute the current demand for test administrations across multiple months to make optimal use of available capacity.

FINRA | Fingerprinting

FINRA has updated information and responses to FAQs on Fingerprinting requirements:

  • Information- SEC Provides Temporary Exemptive Relief from Fingerprinting Requirements for, Among Others, Members and All of Their Associated Persons; FINRA Provides Additional Temporary Extension of Time for Submission of Fingerprint Information for Registered Persons Under Rule 1010(d).
  • FAQ- FINRA Rule 1010(d) requires members to submit fingerprint information for an individual applicant no later than 30 days after FINRA receives the applicant’s Form U4. In the interim, the individual’s registration may be deemed effective pending receipt of the fingerprint information. If the information is not submitted within 30 days, the individual’s registration is deemed inactive and the individual must immediately cease performing any registered activities. Due to the limitations and restrictions imposed as a result of the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), our firm is unable to submit fingerprint information for applicants within the 30-day period under Rule 1010(d). Is FINRA considering extending the 30-day period to address this issue?

FAQ- Will non-registered associated persons who are required to be fingerprinted (NRFs) also receive additional time to submit their fingerprint information?

FINRA | Remote work environment

FINRA prepared this Notice to share common themes FINRA observed through discussions with small, mid-size and large firms about the steps they reported taking to transition their associated persons and supervisory procedures to a remote work environment. 

FINRA | Regulatory Relief Documentation

FINRA provides response to the following new FAQ on Temporary Relief:

  •  Should a member firm document that it has relied upon any temporary relief provided by FINRA from obligations in rules or requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic?

FINRA | Supervision

FINRA Updates the following FAQs on Supervision:

  • May firms have additional time to complete and submit their Rule 3120 Report?
  • May firms have additional time to execute their Rule 3130 certification?

FINRA | Qualification Exams

FINRA Updates the following FAQ on Qualification Examinations; Temporary Extension of Time Under Rule 1210.04 (Requirements for Registered Persons Functioning as Principals for a Limited Period).

  • FINRA Rule 1210.04 allows eligible individuals to function in a principal capacity for 120 calendar days before having to pass the appropriate examination(s). In accordance with the rule, our firm currently has several individuals who were designated to function as principals prior to February 2, 2020. These individuals were scheduled to sit for the appropriate examinations in the next several weeks. However, Prometric recently announced that it has temporarily closed its test centers for a period of 30 days due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which would preclude these individuals from sitting for their scheduled examinations. Is FINRA considering temporarily extending the 120-day period under Rule 1210.04 for such individuals?

FINRA | Comment Period Extension

FINRA Extends Comment Period on Proposal to Implement Recommendations of the CE Council Regarding Enhancements to the Continuing Education Program for Securities Industry Professionals
Description: In response to requests for an extension of the Comment Period due to COVID-19, FINRA has extended the comment period to June 30, 2020 on the recent Proposal to Implement Recommendations of the CE Council Regarding Enhancements to the Continuing Education Program for Securities Industry Professionals.

FINRA | Registration

FINRA releases new FAQ responding to question on Individual Registration and Verification of Form U4 Information:

  • FINRA Rule 3110(e) (Responsibility of Member to Investigate Applicants for Registration) requires members to establish and implement written procedures reasonably designed to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in an applicant’s initial or transfer Form U4 no later than 30 calendar days after the Form U4 is filed with FINRA. Rule 3110(e) requires that each member’s procedures shall, at a minimum, provide for a search of reasonably available public records to be conducted by the member, or a third-party service provider, to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in the applicant’s initial or transfer Form U4. Due to the limitations and restrictions imposed as a result of the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), our firm is currently unable to verify the accuracy and completeness of some of the information contained in the Form U4 within the 30-day period. How should firms address this issue?

FINRA | Qualifications | Ops Professionals; Qualification Exams

FINRA releases new FAQs responding to questions on Temporary Extension of Time Under Rule 1220(b)(3)(B) (Qualifications) and Availability of Waiver Process for Qualification Examinations:

  • FINRA Rule 1220(b)(3)(B) (Qualifications) allows eligible individuals to function as an Operations Professional for 120 calendar days before having to pass the appropriate qualification examination. In accordance with the rule, our firm currently has several individuals who were designated to function as Operations Professionals prior to February 2, 2020. These individuals were scheduled to sit for the appropriate examination in the next several weeks. However, Prometric recently announced that it has temporarily closed its test centers for a period of 30 days due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which would preclude these individuals from sitting for their scheduled examinations. Is FINRA considering temporarily extending the 120-day period under Rule 1220(b)(3)(B) for such individuals?
  •  Our firm intends to rehire and re-register several individuals whose two-year registration period under FINRA Rule 1210.08 (Lapse of Registration and Expiration of SIE) recently lapsed. In the past, we have requested that FINRA waive the qualification examination requirement for such individuals. Is FINRA currently processing waiver requests for such individuals as it would normally?

FINRA | Branch Inspections

Commission Rule 21VAC5-20-260 F requires broker-dealers to conduct an annual physical inspection of business offices. In order to assist broker-dealers operating within the parameters of both state and federal requirements to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising will follow the guidelines set forth in FINRA Regulatory Release 20-08, in which a broker-dealer may temporarily postpone physical inspections during the pandemic.

FINRA | Illicit Activities

Many coronavirus-related investment account scams involve third-party fraudsters leveraging in a bad way firms’ relationships and communications with investors. By staying vigilant, you can play an important role in keeping your assets and personal information safe. This article highlights four common scams to look out for: (1) fraudulent account openings and money transfers; (2) firm imposter scams; (3) IT Help Desk scams; and (4) business email compromise schemes — and how you can take action to mitigate related risks.

FINRA | Qualification Exams

Remote Exam Update: As previously announced, FINRA and NASAA have been working together to deliver an online testing service for candidates seeking to take qualification exams. Validation of this service for the administration of securities industry exams began in late April. FINRA has decided to extend the validation period. As a result, additional time is necessary before we can make online appointment scheduling available to all test candidates and firms. We will continue to refine the implementation of this online service and will communicate an anticipated launch date in the near future.

Test Centers & Exam Enrollments Update: FINRA and Prometric take the health and well-being of our community as a top priority. Prometric announced that select test centers in limited geographic locations are open on and after May 1. Select in-center testing will only be made available to essential service programs, including financial services programs, and capacity will be limited due to social distancing requirements. These requirements may impact already scheduled exam appointments. For the most up-to-date information about test center availability and COVID-19 impacts, please visit the Prometric website.

Additionally, FINRA is aware of the challenges that COVID-19 is presenting for our candidates who want to take exams. FINRA will extend all enrollment windows that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and June 2020. FINRA, NASAA and MSRB exam enrollment end dates will be extended through the same end date of June 30, 2020. Affected enrollment windows will be systematically updated and reflected in CRD on May 11.

FINRA | Regulatory Relief | Certain timing, method of service among others

FINRA is filing with the SEC proposed amendments to FINRA Rules primarily to provide FINRA with temporary relief from certain timing, method of service and other procedural requirements during the period in which FINRA’s operations are impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

FINRA has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness and has requested that the SEC waive the requirement that the proposed rule change not become operative for 30 days after the date of the filing so that FINRA can implement the proposed rule change immediately.

FINRA | Illicit Activities

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting most aspects of our society and daily lives, as well as the U.S. economy and markets. Events with such profound impact routinely create opportunities for financial fraud.

Firms and their associated persons should be aware of and take appropriate measures to address the increased risks and challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to new scams focusing on COVID-19, previous scams may also find new life as fraudsters adapt to and exploit recent events and related vulnerabilities, especially those related to the remote working environment.

FINRA is committed to providing guidance, updates and other information to help stakeholders stay informed about the latest developments relating to COVID-19, which can be found on FINRA’s COVID-19/Coronavirus Topic Page. FINRA will also continue to inform the industry on emerging cybersecurity trends and related frauds, and reminds firms to review resources on FINRA’s

Cybersecurity Topic Page, which provides information on how firms can strengthen their cybersecurity programs.

FINRA | Qualification Exams

FINRA and NASAA are pleased to report continued progress toward the launch of an online test delivery service, planned for May 24, 2020. In the weeks ahead, we will finalize requirements for this service, which will initially include online delivery of the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams. Starting May 11, candidates and firms will be able to begin scheduling their online test appointments for May 24 and beyond. Additional details regarding online test delivery requirements and appointment scheduling will be made available on the Qualifications Schedule an Exam page by May 11.

FINRA | Resilient Market Structure Podcast

Market volatility in recent weeks has surpassed anything else in history in terms of both the extremity and duration. Despite that, the so-called plumbing of U.S. financial markets has held up remarkably well—even with most market participants working from home.

On this episode, FINRA’s Executive Vice President of Market Regulation and Transparency Services Tom Gira, walks us through the evolution of our market structure that has contributed to this resilience and how FINRA and other are handling the increased volumes.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Mark-ups

FINRA releases response addressing the following question on Fixed Income Mark-up Disclosure:

  • How might volatile market conditions, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, impact a firm’s process for providing customers with fixed income mark-up disclosure under FINRA Rule 2232?

FINRA | FAQ Update, Funding Portal

FINRA releases response addressing the following questions relating to Relief for Funding Portal Members; Funding Portal Members Will Be Permitted To Spread Out Payment of Their Gross Income Assessment:

  • In light of the challenges presented by the pandemic, will FINRA permit funding portal members additional time to pay the Funding Portal Gross Income Assessment (FPGIA), in similar fashion to small firms?
  • Will a funding portal member still be responsible for paying the FPGIA for 2020 if the funding portal member terminates its membership of FINRA in June 2020?

FINRA | Testing

FINRA and NASAA are working together with input from other regulators and the industry to accelerate the delivery of an online testing service that will be administered and remotely proctored by test delivery provider, Prometric.  The online test delivery service will allow candidates to use their personal or firm-provided, camera-equipped computer to take qualifications examinations. Prometric staff will proctor the examination through the camera and other online tools.  A trial of the online testing service to work out any technical, operational or candidate experience issues is underway. 

Service is expected to be launched on a limited basis in the near future, starting with the SIE, Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, and Series 66 with increasing capacity and exam offerings over the next four to six weeks.

You can access additional details about this service on FINRA’s COVID-19 page, starting Friday May 1st.  Prometric also announced its intention to open select test centers in limited geographic locations as early as May 1. Select in-center testing will only be made available to essential service programs, including financial services programs, and capacity will be limited due to social distancing requirements. These requirements may impact already scheduled exam appointments. For the most up-to-date information about test center availability and COVID-19 impacts, please visit the Prometric COVID-19 website.

FINRA | Supervision Guidance

FINRA releases a response to its FAQ addressing the following question on Supervision:

  • Our branch office staff is working remotely due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). During this time can firm mail that would ordinarily be delivered to the branch be directed or forwarded to an associated person’s residence?

FINRA | Supervision Guidance

FINRA releases a response to its FAQs addressing the following question on Advertising Regulation:

  • Our firm’s registered representatives are unable to meet with their customers face-to-face because they are working from home or due to COVID-19 related restrictions, and instead are meeting with clients via a live video or audio conferencing platform.  How should our firm supervise these meetings?  Is the firm required to keep records of these live video meetings?

FINRA | Regulatory Relief, Comment Period Extension

FINRA Extends Comment Period on Proposal to Implement Recommendations of the CE Council Regarding Enhancements to the Continuing Education Program for Securities Industry Professionals.

FINRA | Regulatory Relief, Comment Period Extension

In response to requests for an extension of the Comment Period due to COVID-19, FINRA has extended the comment period to May 15, 2020 on proposed amendments to the CAB rules.

FINRA | CARES Act

FINRA provides insights on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.  The Act provides more than $2 trillion in relief for businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new law includes provisions that provide temporary support related to retirement assets and student loan payments to help Americans deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic. FINRA provides insights on the following:

  • Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distributions for Certain Retirement Accounts
  • Temporary Waiver of Early Withdrawal Penalty for a Coronavirus-Related Distribution from Retirement Accounts
  • Temporary Increase in Amount for Retirement Account Loans
  •  Relief for Student Loan Borrowers

FINRA | Regulatory Oversight

On April 7, 2020, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released Risk Alerts for Reg BI and Form CRS.  These Risk Alerts set forth OCIE’s expectations for firms’ compliance with Reg BI and Form CRS and provide broker-dealers with information about the scope and content of OCIE’s initial examinations following the compliance date of June 30, 2020.  FINRA will take the same approach as set forth in the SEC Risk Alerts when FINRA examines broker-dealers and their associated persons for compliance with Reg BI and Form CRS.  This initial approach will focus primarily on assessing whether firms have made a good faith effort to establish and implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to comply with Reg BI and Form CRS.  However, as always, FINRA will take action in the event FINRA observes indications of customer harm or conduct that would have violated current standards (e.g., suitability).

We also emphasize that we stand ready to work with firms and the SEC on issues that may arise in the course of examinations for compliance with Reg BI and Form CRS and understand that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created challenges for firms.  As with the SEC, we appreciate that implementation will be an iterative process, and our focus will be on firms continuing good faith and reasonable efforts, including taking into account firm-specific effects from disruptions caused by COVID-19.

FINRA | Registration

FINRA releases FAQs responding to questions pertaining to Individual Registration including Termination, Continuing Education and Late Filing Fees for Forms U4/U5.

FINRA | General Announcement

FINRA releases FAQs responding to questions pertaining to Annual Assessment, Deferred Annual Assessment; Net Capital and Treatment of Covered Loans Under the CARES Act.

FINRA | Regulatory Relief, Extended Operative Date

FINRA is filing with the SEC a proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness to provide members with additional time to comply with the amendments adopted by SR-FINRA-2019-014 related to transactions in U.S. Treasury Securities executed to hedge certain primary market transactions.

In light of significant impacts that the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may have on member firms, FINRA is extending the effective date of the amendments adopted by SR-FINRA-2019-014 related to U.S. Treasury Security hedge transactions to allow members additional time to prepare for implementation of the new requirements.

The new operative date of the amendments adopted by SR-FINRA-2019-014 will be August 3, 2020.

FINRA notes that the implementation delay will not impact transparency because transactions in U.S. Treasury Securities currently are not disseminated.

FINRA | Regulatory Relief & Guidance

FINRA podcast highlights business in the time of COVID-19.  Topics include business continuity planning, regulatory relief among others.

FINRA | Illicit activity warning

FINRA warns of virus-related investment scams and provides tips to keep your money and personal information safe. From regulators, law enforcement agencies, and consumer organizations around the globe, the message is clear: fraudulent schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic have arrived, and they are coming in many forms, from investment fraud to fake CDC emails to phishing scams.

FINRA | Cybersecurity Alert

FINRA has published a cybersecurity alert providing measures to consider as firms respond to the virus. This alert provides firms and associated persons with measures they may use to help strengthen their cybersecurity controls in areas where risks may increase in the current environment.  Alert topics include office & home networks; computers & mobile devices; common attacks; incident response; network security controls; training & awareness; contact information and provides links to additional resources.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, Best Execution

Under Rule 5310, firms must exercise “reasonable diligence” to ascertain the best market for the security and buy or sell in that market so that the resultant price to the customer is as favorable as possible under prevailing market conditions. Evaluating a broker-dealer’s satisfaction of its duty of best execution necessarily requires a “facts and circumstances” analysis. While broker-dealers are not relieved of their best execution obligations in these circumstances, FINRA notes that the reasonable diligence required for best execution is assessed in the context of the characteristics of the security and market conditions, including price, volatility, relative liquidity, and pressure on available communications.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, Registration

FINRA has updated its virus-related FAQs advising that FINRA is temporarily suspending the requirement to maintain updated Form U4 information regarding office of employment address for registered persons who temporarily relocate due to COVID-19. In addition, members are not required to submit branch office applications on Form BR for any newly opened temporary office locations or space-sharing arrangements established as a result of recent events.  Also, if a member relocates personnel to a temporary location that is not currently registered as a branch office or identified as a regular non-branch location, the firm should use its best efforts to provide written notification to its FINRA Risk Monitoring Analyst as soon as possible after establishing a new temporary office or space-sharing arrangement, to include at a minimum the office address, the names of each member involved, the names of registered personnel, a contact telephone number and, if possible, the expected duration. The notification should also indicate whether the member’s personnel will be sharing space with another entity, and if so, the type of business in which it is engaged (e.g., an affiliated investment adviser or an organization in the securities business). FINRA reminds members that while a pandemic may create exigent circumstances that result in emergency relocations, firms should take into account the risks associated with sharing office space with another entity (e.g., customer privacy, information security or recordkeeping considerations) and take steps to mitigate the risks during the emergency relocation. FINRA does not expect to receive written notification regarding each associated person’s location (e.g., the person’s home residence if working from home) or if another person (e.g., a spouse or another immediate family member) is also teleworking in the same residence as the associated person.  In addition, in instances where a non-branch location or branch office has been relocated, or customer calls are being rerouted to another office, members must exercise diligence in validating the identity of the customer (e.g., when accepting orders and request for disbursement of funds) as well as provide heightened supervision of the affected customer accounts.

FINRA | FAQ Update, AML

FINRA is reminding member firms that they have until December 31, 2020 to perform the annual independent testing of the member’s AML compliance program. FINRA Rule 3310’s reference to a “calendar-year basis” means that, for most member firms, the independent testing must be performed at least once during each calendar year (i.e., between January 1 and December 31). This provides member firms with the ability to choose when to perform their independent testing within the calendar year, unless circumstances warrant more frequent testing. Member firms that do not execute transactions for customers or otherwise hold customer accounts or do not act as introducing brokers with respect to customer accounts (e.g., engage solely in proprietary trading or conduct business only with other broker-dealers), may perform independent testing every two years (on a calendar-year basis) rather than on an annual basis. If a member firm qualifies for the two-year testing exception, and the last year in which an independent test was performed was in 2018, the member firm has until December 31, 2020 to perform its next independent testing.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Advertising

FINRA understands that members may experience significantly increased customer call volumes or online account usage during a pandemic (e.g., due to significant market movements), which may cause temporary operational challenges. Members are encouraged to review their BCPs regarding communicating with customers and ensuring customer access to funds and securities during a significant business disruption. If registered representatives are unavailable to service their customers, members are encouraged to promptly place a notice on their websites indicating to affected customers who they may contact concerning the execution of trades, their accounts, and access to funds or securities. Supervisory control policies and procedures should be considered that will mitigate risks that may arise due to the reduced ability to communicate with customers, inability to rely on mail or other disruption to the existing controls over communications with customers.  Also, FINRA Rule 2210(c)(7) (Communications with the Public) excludes from Rule 2210’s filing requirement retail communications that do not make any financial or investment recommendation or otherwise promote a product or service of the member. For example, a member is not required to file with FINRA a retail communication regarding COVID-19 that does not make any financial or investment recommendation or promote a product or service of the member.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, BCPs

FINRA has updated it’s Business Continuity Planning (BCP) FAQs.  Among other things, FINRA encourages members to contact their assigned FINRA Risk Monitoring Analyst to discuss the activation and implementation of their BCPs; reminds firms of Rule 4370 requirement to promptly update emergency contact information; encourages firms to contact FINRA’s Call Center at (301)-590-6500 if unable to communicate with FINRA through normal channels; and draws attention to regulatory relief defined in FINRA Regulatory Notice 20-08.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, FOCUS Filings

Every member is required to file a Financial and Operational Combined Uniform Single (FOCUS) report as specified under SEA Rule 17a-5. Rule 17a-5(a) requires members to submit their FOCUS reports no later than 17 business days after month-end. Based on discussions with the SEC staff, any member that (1) meets the exemptive provisions in SEA Rule 15c3-3(k) or (2) files a Part IIA FOCUS Report is being provided a 10 business day extension for submitting any FOCUS report to FINRA related to a period ending in February 2020 through April 2020. Further, the written application and procedures required pursuant to SEA Rule 17a-5(a)(6), and the related Interpretations, are waived for purposes of this extension. For any member that qualifies for the above extension, FINRA is providing a corresponding 10 business day extension for any applicable supplemental FOCUS schedules required pursuant to FINRA Rule 4524.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, Active Duty Military

The declaration of an emergency in a specified area due to COVID-19 may result in some persons volunteering or being called into active military duty. FINRA updates FAQs to remind them that FINRA Rule 1210 (Registration Requirements) provides specific relief to persons registered with FINRA who volunteer or are called into active military duty.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, 4530 Reporting Requirements

FINRA Rule 4530(d) requires that each member report to FINRA statistical and summary information regarding written customer complaints by the 15th day of the month following the calendar quarter in which customer complaints are received by the member.  FINRA is providing additional time for members to report to FINRA this statistical and summary information regarding customer complaints for the first quarter of 2020. Members have until May 31, 2020 to report to FINRA statistical and summary information regarding written customer complaints received by the member in the first quarter of 2020.

FINRA | FAQ Update, Regulatory Relief, Supervision

FINRA is providing additional time for some members to complete and submit to their senior management the report required under Rule 3120 that details a member’s supervisory controls system (and with respect to certain members, additional information). Members whose annual deadline for submitting the report falls between March 1 and May 1, 2020, may take up to and including May 31, 2020 to complete and submit the report to their senior management.  In addition, FINRA is providing additional time for some members to execute their Rule 3130 certification. A member whose certification deadline falls between March 1 and May 1, 2020, may take up to and including May 31, 2020 to complete its certification. Among other things, Rule 3130 requires as a condition for certification that the CEO(s) has conducted one or more meetings with the CCO(s) in the preceding 12 months to discuss the member’s processes. FINRA notes that those meetings may be conducted virtually.

FINRA | Essential Employee Paperwork

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of states and localities have issued workplace restrictions as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.  These “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders vary in scope and duration, but generally require businesses not considered “essential” to close their physical offices and continue their operations remotely.

Many of the orders list financial institutions as essential businesses and permit critical on site functions to continue, subject to limitations.  Member firms should closely review the applicable state and locality orders’ impacts on their operations, and make any necessary changes.

To aid member firms, FINRA is providing a list of state orders of which FINRA is aware.  Firms should rely on their local authorities for the latest developments.  If a member firm decides an employee is permitted to report to a physical office location, FINRA suggests that the employee carry documentation explaining that the employee works for an “essential” business, and why the employee’s work requires his or her physical presence in the office.

FINRA | Registration

FINRA issues Temporary Extension of Time for Submission of Fingerprint Information Under Rule 1010(d). Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the SEC recently issued an order providing temporary relief from the fingerprinting requirements of Section 17(f)(2) of the Exchange Act and SEA Rule 17f-2 for the period of March 16, 2020, until May 30, 2020.
In addition, FINRA Rule 1010(d) authorizes FINRA to extend the 30-day period for submitting fingerprint information upon application and a showing of good cause. Given the Commission’s order, and the authority in Rule 1010, FINRA is temporarily extending the time period for submitting fingerprint information under Rule 1010(d). Specifically, members that submitted, or will submit, an applicant’s initial or transfer Form U4 between February 15, 2020 and April 29, 2020, will have until May 30, 2020, to submit the necessary fingerprint information. FINRA will continue to assess this situation and consider any additional extensions of time as appropriate.

FINRA | Examinations

Due to the temporary closing of the Prometric test centers, FINRA is extending expiring qualification examination windows until May 31, 2020. Consistent with this extension, individuals who were designated to function as principals under Rule 1210.04 prior to February 2, 2020 will be given until May 31, 2020 to pass the appropriate examination(s). FINRA will continue to assess this situation and consider any additional extensions of time if necessary.

FINRA | Processes

FINRA has filed with the SEC a proposed rule change to extend the current pilot program related to FINRA Rule 11892 (Clearly Erroneous Transactions in Exchange-Listed Securities) (“Clearly Erroneous Transaction Pilot” or “Pilot”) until October 20, 2020.

FINRA has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness. The proposed rule change will become operative on April 17, 2020 (30 days after the date of filing).

FINRA | Processes

FINRA is filing with the SEC a proposed rule change to amend FINRA Rule 6121.02 (Market-wide Circuit Breakers in NMS Stocks) concerning the resumption of trading following a Level 3 market-wide circuit breaker halt.

FINRA | Processes

The Division of Enforcement and the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations continue to execute on their mission of protecting investors and remain fully operational. The agency is actively monitoring our markets for frauds, illicit schemes and other misconduct affecting U.S. investors relating to COVID-19—and as circumstances warrant, will issue trading suspensions and use enforcement tools as appropriate.

On March 19 the Commission issued an order in pending Administrative Proceedings to encourage parties to file and serve documents electronically.

FINRA | Scheduled Securities Exam Appointments and Enrollment Period

FINRA has granted courtesy cancellation of upcoming exam appointments as well as extending an existing enrollment period for exams. Questions should be directed to FINRA at 301-590-6500.

FINRA | Exam Appointments

Prometric closed testing centers in US & Canada for a period of 30 days, starting March 18, 2020. Candidates who have an existing appointment will receive an email from Prometric with instructions on how to reschedule; rescheduling fees will not be applied. To change an existing appointment scheduled over 30 days (April 16 or later) or to schedule a new appointment, please access the Prometric website.

FINRA will extend all enrollment windows currently open and scheduled to expire by the end of May. Each FINRA-administered exam enrollment end date will be extended through the same end date of May 31, 2020.

FINRA | Membership Application Program 

Pre-filing meetings and membership interviews for new and continuing membership applications will be conducted via video conference.  FINRA will grant a courtesy extension on a firm’s new or continuing membership application, if needed. Should firms need pursue an extension they should contact their MAP examiner for more information.

FINRA U4 Wet Signature Requirements

FINRA has granted a temporary relief from the wet signature requirement. As cited on FINRA’s COVID 19 FAQ FINRA will permit firms to electronically file an initial or transfer Form U4 without obtaining the individual applicant’s manual signature if the firm:

  • provides the applicant with a copy of the completed Form U4 prior to filing;
  • obtains the applicant’s written acknowledgment (which may be electronic) prior to filing that the information has been received and reviewed, and that the applicant agrees that the content is accurate and complete;
  • retains the written acknowledgment in accordance with SEA Rule 17a-4(e)(1) and makes it available promptly upon regulatory request; and
  • obtains the applicant’s manual signature as soon as practicable.

FINRA | Investor Alert

FINRA issued Investor Alert intended to provide guidance on Financial Peace of Mind in the Age of Coronavirus.

FINRA | General Communication

SEC provides regulatory relief through May 20, 2020.  They will not recommend enforcement action should CAT implementation deadlines not get met.

FINRA | Branch Exams

FINRA issued Regulatory Notice 20-08, outlining the following for branch exams:

With respect to oversight obligations, a member firm’s scheduled on-site inspections of branch offices may need to be temporarily postponed during the pandemic, with FINRA understanding that the ability to complete this annual regulatory obligation in 2020 may need to be re-evaluated depending on the duration and severity of the pandemic.

MSRB | FAQ update

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) today updated answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 pandemic-related regulatory relief and guidance. A new FAQ addresses a question related to the application of MSRB Rule G-23 to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s emergency temporary conditional order concerning direct placements of municipal securities.

 

MSRB | Cloud data insights

MSRB Publishes Newsletter Highlighting Leveraging the Cloud to Shed Light on COVID-19’s Effects on the Market.  The dark cloud of COVID-19 has cast a long shadow on the municipal market, ushering in a period of unprecedented market volatility and fiscal pressure on states and communities across the country. A bright spot in these challenging times is the tremendous potential of cloud-based technologies to shed light on the effects of this pandemic. The data and insights gleaned from the cloud have helped inform the development of effective emergency relief for this critical capital market.

 

MSRB | Guidance

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) provided answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing COVID-19 pandemic-related regulatory relief and guidance for brokers, dealers, municipal securities dealers and municipal advisors in light of disruptions to normal business operations. This resource should be read in conjunction with the applicable MSRB rules and interpretations.
The MSRB will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and the related risks of market disruption and operational challenges to determine whether additional guidance and relief may be appropriate.

 

MSRB | Regulatory Relief, Fees

The SEC seeks comment on MSRB proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness consisting of a proposed amendment to MSRB Rule A-13 regarding underwriting and transaction assessments for brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers to waive certain, transaction and technology assessments (“market activity fees”) related to transactions with the Municipal Liquidity Facility (“Facility” or “MLF”) established by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

The MSRB has designated the proposed rule change as “establishing or changing a due, fee, or other charge” under Section 19(b)(3)(A)(ii) of the Act and Rule 19b-4(f)(2)4 thereunder, which renders the proposal effective upon filing with the Commission.

 

MSRB | Investor Protection

Investors who hold municipal bonds may not be aware of the resources available to assist them in understanding how the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may affect their holdings. As the regulatory organization that safeguards the municipal securities market, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s (MSRB) mission is to protect investors, issuers and the public interest. The MSRB fulfills this mission by establishing rules against fraud and manipulation, ensuring transparency about bond prices, features and risks through its free Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website, and providing objective educational resources. This notice is intended to highlight available MSRB resources for investors and to provide information on where to find COVID-19-related disclosures from issuers.

 

MSRB | Trading

A new commentary by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s (MSRB) Chief Economist Simon Wu reviews how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected trading costs for investors buying and selling municipal securities.

Using effective spread as a measure, the MSRB found that trading costs, which had been trending consistently downward over the last decade, reversed drastically in March 2020 when market volatility spiked up, wiping out the entire reduction realized over the preceding four-year period. Furthermore, by the end of April 2020, the effective spread had not yet returned to the pre-COVID-19 level. The MSRB found this development most pronounced for the below $100,000 trade size group where “mom-and-pop” retail investors predominate.

 

MSRB | Disclosures

States, municipalities and other bond issuers continue to ramp up the pace of public disclosures describing the impact of the novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on their financial condition and operating status. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) enhanced the format of its weekly report aggregating disclosures submitted to its free Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) system that reference COVID-19.

 

MSRB | Regulatory Relief Extension 

The Board of Directors of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) met via conference call on April 22-23, 2020 for its quarterly meeting. The Board discussed the MSRB’s organizational response to the COVID-19 pandemic and early benefits to the municipal market of the MSRB’s enterprise-wide migration to the cloud, among other governance and market topics.

The Board discussed the federal government’s relief efforts for the municipal market, including the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility. Additionally, the MSRB has taken several regulatory actions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including providing temporary regulatory relief, suspending price variance alerts for dealers, extending the comment deadline on request for comment on proposed governance enhancements and reminding regulated entities of application of supervisory requirements in light of coronavirus.

The Board discussed the following additional important topics at its meeting:

Additional COVID-19 Regulatory Relief: The Board voted to seek approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide an extension for the regulatory authorities that examine dealers for compliance with MSRB rules under the examination schedule established by MSRB Rule G-16.

Governance Matters: The Board remains focused on continually improving its governance practices. As part of its discussion of annual governance matters, the Board reaffirmed the organization’s long-term strategic goals and directed staff to prioritize supporting the post-pandemic recovery of the municipal market by continuing to provide data, expertise and leadership to policymakers and other stakeholders.

Pre-Trade Analysis: The Board discussed staff’s analysis of pre-trade data voluntarily provided by alternative trading systems (ATS), which notes a significant increase in the amount of responses to requests for quotes (RFQs) and live quotes between 2015 and 2018. The Board directed staff to continue analyzing ATS data.

 

MSRB | Regulatory Relief, Additional time to comply and suspension of late fees

On April 13, 2020 the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a proposed rule change for Immediate Effectiveness to provide Dealers and Municipal Advisors additional time to comply with certain obligations for a temporary period of time and temporarily suspend late fees on payments owed to the MSRB.  The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.

 

MSRB | Market Analysis

Financial markets worldwide have experienced unprecedented volatility as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the municipal securities market and the exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track municipal bond indexes. A new market commentary by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s (MSRB) chief economist looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the most actively traded municipal bond ETFs during the month of March 2020, analyzing the price divergence between the ETFs and their benchmark indexes.

 

MSRB | Regulatory Relief, Time Lines and Fees

In light of the disruptions to normal business operations as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) sought immediate authorization from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide temporary regulatory relief to market participants by extending certain MSRB compliance and testing deadlines.

The actions announced provide for an extension of time to implement certain amended rules and interpretive guidance, and additional time to complete certain professional qualification and supervisory requirements. MSRB-regulated firms will now have additional time to:

  • Prepare to operationalize the submission of additional data related to primary offerings of municipal securities under amendments to MSRB Rule G-32;
  • Prepare to operationalize compliance with amended and restated guidance regarding the fair dealing obligations underwriters owe to issuers of municipal securities under MSRB Rule G-17;
  • Take and pass certain qualification exams and continuing education modules required by MSRB Rule G-3;
  • Conduct the annual needs analysis and the delivery of continuing education content pursuant to MSRB Rule G-3;
  • Conduct the annual compliance meeting and branch inspections pursuant to MSRB Rule G-27;
  • Provide the annual report related to the dealer’s review of the firm’s supervisory controls under MSRB Rule G-27; and
  • Provide the annual certification related to the municipal advisor firm’s compliance policies and procedures under MSRB Rule G-44.

Additionally, the MSRB sought SEC approval to temporarily waive late fees for any registration, annual and market activity-based fees billed for the period of March 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 under MSRB Rules A-11, A-12 and A-13.

The proposed rule change was filed for immediate effectiveness on April 9, 2020. The MSRB is publishing Regulatory Notice 2020-09 to outline the temporary relief.

 

MSRB | General Announcement

Disclosures submitted to the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s (MSRB) free Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) system provide a window into how states and municipalities are grappling with the impact of the novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on their revenues and ability to finance essential public services. The MSRB today began publishing a weekly summary to assist market participants, policymakers and the general public with identifying disclosures submitted to the EMMA system by issuers of municipal securities that reference COVID-19.

The disclosures in the MSRB’s summary are accessible to the public at no cost on the EMMA website. The MSRB searched the approximately 40,000 disclosures the EMMA system received from January 2020 to March 2020 to identify those that referenced COVID-19 or related keywords.

 

MSRB | Regulatory relief | Price Variance Alerts

The MSRB is temporarily suspending the transmission of the price variance alerts for trades reported to MSRB’s Real-Time Transaction Reporting System (RTRS) effective immediately.  As of March 2019, the MSRB sends a price variance alert via email to a dealer when a transaction reported to RTRS by the dealer is at a price that is notably different (i.e., notably lower or higher) than the price reported to RTRS by other dealers in the same security within a specified time period. The price variance alert was designed as a tool to assist dealers in identifying transactions that may warrant review to ensure the information reported to RTRS reflects the trade price as intended. While dealers remain obligated under MSRB Rule G-14 to ensure that the information being disseminated by RTRS is accurate, the price variance alert tool does not, in these current market conditions, serve its intended purpose of assisting firms in their efforts to comply with Rule G-14.  Accordingly, the MSRB is temporarily suspending reporting on price variance alerts.

 

MSRB | Trade Data

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) began publishing daily analysis of trade activity to assist market participants, policymakers and the general public with understanding the impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on the liquidity of the $4 trillion municipal securities market.

MSRB data show trading in the secondary market for municipal securities is at all-time highs, as institutional investors sell off large positions. Meanwhile, in the fixed-rate market, customer buying in smaller pieces of $100,000 or less, indicative of retail investors, jumped to a daily average of approximately 11,700 trades in March 2020, compared to about 8,500 trades per day in January and February.  The MSRB also plans to analyze and publish additional variable rate data.

 

MSRB | Comment Deadline

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) continues to monitor the impact of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the municipal securities market. In light of the impact and in response to requests from market participants, the MSRB has extended the comment deadline for MSRB Notice 2020-02 by 30 days to April 29, 2020.

MSRB Notice 2020-02 requests comment on draft amendments to MSRB Rule A-3, on membership on the Board, designed to improve Board governance.

 

MSRB | Municipal Securities

The MSRB is closely monitoring the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on municipal market participants, including municipal securities dealers and municipal advisors. Please reach out to us at compliance@msrb.org with any compliance questions or suggestions for how we can help regulated entities.

Stay up-to-date on MSRB information, including notices and market analysis, with a new dedicated COVID-19 information page on MSRB.org.

 

MSRB | General Communication

MSRB issued reminder to regulated entities that in light of virus event, they are still required to supervise municipal securities, municipal advisory activities and activities of their associated persons.

NASAA | Investor Alert

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) and FINRA have joined to encourage investors to proceed cautiously with new investment opportunities considering the potential for fraudsters to take advantage of the buzz surrounding companies promoting products and services related to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

NASAA | Regulatory Relief Extension

FINRA and NASAA will provide one additional extension of enrollment windows for the SIE, Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, Series 65 and Series 66 that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and October 16, 2020. The exam enrollment end dates will be extended through the same end date of October 16, 2020. Affected enrollment windows will be systematically updated and reflected in CRD on September 29, 2020.

All candidates should note that FINRA and NASAA do not contemplate any further extension of exam enrollment windows for these exams.

 

NASAA | Regulatory relief extension, exam windows

As previously announced, FINRA and NASAA have been working together to deliver an online testing service for candidates seeking to take qualification exams remotely. Beginning July 13, candidates and firms may schedule online test appointments for FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, and Series 7 exams and NASAA’s Series 63, Series 65 and Series 66 exams.
NASAA and FINRA continue to recognize the ongoing challenges our test candidates face during this COVID-19 pandemic and will extend all enrollment windows that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and September 2020. NASAA, FINRA, and MSRB exam enrollment end dates will be extended through the same end date of September 30, 2020. Affected enrollment windows will be systematically updated and reflected in CRD on August 25.  NASAA, FINRA, and MSRB will continue to assess this situation and consider whether any additional extension of their exam enrollment windows is necessary.

 

NASAA | Illicit activities

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced that its COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, consisting of state and provincial securities regulators, has initiated actions to disrupt 220 schemes seeking to fraudulently profit from the pandemic.  With 111 investigators representing 44 jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the COVID-19 Task Force represents the largest coordinated enforcement initiative undertaken by state and provincial securities regulators.

 

NASAA | Remote Exams-Update

As previously announced, FINRA and NASAA have been working together to deliver an online testing service for candidates seeking to take qualification exams remotely. Beginning July 13, candidates and firms may schedule online test appointments for FINRA’s Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, and Series 7 exams and NASAA’s Series 63, Series 65 and Series 66 exams.

FINRA and NASAA anticipate high demand for online test appointments and recognize the challenges associated with accommodating the current demand driven by months of COVID-19 restrictions. Online appointments will be limited initially so we can monitor program performance under increased volume and adjust if necessary. We expect to be able to increase appointment availability during the months of July and August. FINRA and NASAA encourage firms and candidates to utilize a combination of online testing as well as testing at an available local test center as we work with Prometric to increase online capacity. More information on test center openings and availability can be found on Prometric’s website.

As a reminder, as previously announced, all FINRA-administered exam enrollment windows that are currently expired, or will expire, between March 16 and August 2020 have been extended through the same end date of August 31, 2020.

 

NASAA | Enforcement

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) updated the status of the work of the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, consisting of state and provincial securities regulators, to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the pandemic. Currently, more than 100 investigators from 44 jurisdictions including the United States, Canada, and Mexico, are participating in the task force, which formed in April and is led by NASAA’s Enforcement Section and its Enforcement Technology Project Group.

 

NASAA | Investor Protection

FINRA, NASAA and SEC Staff have joined together to provide this warning to investors about promoters targeting retirement accounts, as well as to provide a few key considerations for investors thinking of using 401(k) withdrawals or loans to purchase securities.

The CARES Act of 2020 provides significant relief for businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes allowing retirement investors affected by the coronavirus to gain access to up to $100,000 of their retirement savings without being subject to early withdrawal penalties and with an expanded window for paying the income tax they owe on the amounts they withdraw.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous promoters have used these CARES Act benefits to encourage investors to take money from their 401(k)s or traditional IRAs, not for current emergency financial needs, but to buy investments (often riskier ones) in an account at a firm the promoter recommends or in the investor’s existing account.

 

NASAA | Deregulation warning

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) told Congress to guard against proposals to weaken securities laws as it continues to craft legislative responses to address the effects the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is having on the nation’s capital markets.

 

NASAA | Illicit Activity

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption and anxiety to individuals and the financial markets. Because fraudsters often try to capitalize on current issues and problems to promote their scams, NASAA is issuing this updated investor alert (published originally in 2013) on exempt securities offerings, also known as “private placements,” in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

NASAA | Qualification Exams

FINRA and NASAA are pleased to report continued progress toward the launch of an online test delivery service, planned for May 24, 2020. In the weeks ahead, we will finalize requirements for this service, which will initially include online delivery of the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE), Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66 exams. Starting May 11, candidates and firms will be able to begin scheduling their online test appointments for May 24 and beyond. Additional details regarding online test delivery requirements and appointment scheduling will be made available on the Qualifications Schedule an Exam page by May 11.

 

NASAA | COVID-focused task force

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced the formation of the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, consisting of state and provincial securities regulators, to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

NASAA | Testing

FINRA and NASAA are working together with input from other regulators and the industry to accelerate the delivery of an online testing service that will be administered and remotely proctored by test delivery provider, Prometric.  The online test delivery service will allow candidates to use their personal or firm-provided, camera-equipped computer to take qualifications examinations. Prometric staff will proctor the examination through the camera and other online tools.  A trial of the online testing service to work out any technical, operational or candidate experience issues is underway. 

Service is expected to be launched on a limited basis in the near future, starting with the SIE, Series 6, Series 7, Series 63, and Series 66 with increasing capacity and exam offerings over the next four to six weeks.

You can access additional details about this service on FINRA’s COVID-19 page, starting Friday May 1st.  Prometric also announced its intention to open select test centers in limited geographic locations as early as May 1. Select in-center testing will only be made available to essential service programs, including financial services programs, and capacity will be limited due to social distancing requirements. These requirements may impact already scheduled exam appointments. For the most up-to-date information about test center availability and COVID-19 impacts, please visit the Prometric COVID-19 website.

 

NASAA | General Announcement

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) released a new resource to provide information about the operational status of state securities regulators and any regulatory relief that has been granted in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. A chart outlining this information is available on NASAA’s COVID-19 Update Center.

 

NASAA | State Operations & Regulatory Relief

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) today released a new resource to provide information about the operational status of state securities regulators and any regulatory relief that has been granted in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. A chart outlining this information is available on NASAA’s COVID-19 Update Center.

 

NASAA | Investor Protection

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) told a Securities and Exchange Commission advisory committee that state securities regulators are maintaining essential regulatory and investor protection operations during the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The past few weeks have been challenging for investors, regulators, and the financial services industry. While state securities authorities are working to help financial professionals withstand current difficulties, we remain focused on our mission to protect investors,” Christopher W. Gerold, NASAA President and Chief of the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, said in remarks to the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee.

In his remarks, Gerold also raised concerns among state securities regulators that some will take advantage of concerns with the regulated securities market to promote private offerings related to COVID-19.

 

NASAA | Illicit activity warning

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state and provincial securities regulators are alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes.

 

NASAA | Guidance

NASAA has developed a resource on its website to track regulatory updates from its members related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

NASAA | Dedicated Webpage

NASAA has established an online resource page to collect COVID-19-related updates from state and provincial securities regulators. The resource page includes emergency temporary regulatory relief orders from NASAA members as well as updates on their operating status. At this time, NASAA is not aware of any state or provincial securities regulator that is not providing services.

US Department of Labor | Statement regarding need for financial aid to states

NASAA Deputy Securities Commissioner Hopkins written statement to U.S. House Committee on Financial Services regarding the need for financial aid to America’s states and territories during the pandemic.

 

US Department of Labor | Regulatory Relief, Use of Electronic Media

The Department of Labor is adopting a new, additional safe harbor for employee benefit plan administrators to use electronic media, as a default, to furnish information to participants and beneficiaries of plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The rule allows plan administrators who satisfy specified conditions to provide participants and beneficiaries with a notice that certain disclosures will be made available on a website, or to furnish disclosures via email. Individuals who prefer to receive disclosures on paper can request paper copies of disclosures and opt out of electronic delivery entirely. The Department expects the rule to enhance the effectiveness of ERISA disclosures and significantly reduce the costs and burden associated with furnishing many of the recurring and most costly disclosures.

 

US Department of Labor | Regulatory Relief Extension

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued extended deadline relief and other guidance under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) applicable to employee benefit plans, plan participants and beneficiaries, employers and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, and other service providers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

 

US Department of Labor | End of temporary period of non-enforcement of paid leave

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced the end of the temporary period of non-enforcement of paid leave protections under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

The non-enforcement period allowed the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to offer extensive guidance and education about the law’s requirements, which aided American workers and enabled employers covered by the new law to come into compliance as the nation continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

To resolve issues that have arisen with providing FFCRA-required leave, WHD has explained employers’ obligations and has assisted employers with getting money into the hands of workers. Educational outreach efforts will continue as enforcement begins in order to ensure compliance with the law and to maximize its benefits for workers and employers alike.

FFCRA helps combat the workplace effects of the coronavirus by reimbursing America’s private employers with fewer than 500 employees with tax credits for the cost of providing employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to the coronavirus. The law enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers do not have to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

 

US Department of Labor | Paid Leave

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to this new law, effective April 1, 2020.

Temporary Rule: Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

 

US Department of Labor | Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued additional guidance Explaining Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family & Medical Leave Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

 

US Department of Labor | Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.

 

US Department of Labor | Employee Leave

The US Department of Labor publishes questions and answers that may arise in regard to FMLA and COVID-19.

 

US Department of Labor | Wage & Hours

DOL published virus-related guidance on common issues employers and employees face when responding to virus events and other health emergencies and their effects on wages and hours work under the FLSA and job protected leave under FMLA.

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair of Supervision Randal K. Quarles remarks at the Institute of International Finance highlighting; ‘What Happened? What Have We Learned From It? Lessons from COVID-19 Stress on the Financial System.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair Clarida remarks at 2020 Annual Membership Meeting of the Institute of International Finance highlighting the current situation and outlook for the economy in light of COVID-19.  Vice Chair Clarida also discussed the September decisions of the FOMC and the New Monetary Policy Framework.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair Supervision Randal K. Quarles remarks at the Hoover Institution on the current economic situation and monetary policy highlighting the actions that the Federal Reserve has taken this year to help ensure that the banking system remains a source of strength during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Chair Jerome H. Powell remarks at the National Association for Business Economics Virtual Annual Meeting highlighting the effect of COVID-19 on the economy, and the efforts of the Federal Reserve in providing relief during the recession and recovery.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair Remarks on Optimism in the Time of COVID-19

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Chairman Testifies on FRB’s Pandemic Response including Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security (CARES) Act

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

Federal Reserve Board Issues Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households

 

Federal Reserve Board | Monetary policy

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. Economic activity and employment have picked up in recent months but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year. Weaker demand and significantly lower oil prices are holding down consumer price inflation. Overall financial conditions have improved in recent months, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Congressional Testimony

Kent Hiteshew, Deputy Associate Director, Division of Financial Stability testifies before the Congressional Oversight Commission, Washington, D.C., highlighting relief efforts in response to COVID-19 including the Municipal Liquidity Facility and its effectiveness.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Monetary Policy

FRB Governor Remarks on Fed Response to COVID-19 Recession in Era of Low Rates & Low Inflation

 

Federal Reserve Board | Municipal Liquidity Facility changes

The Federal Reserve Board  announced revised pricing for its Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). The revised pricing reduces the interest rate spread on tax-exempt notes for each credit rating category by 50 basis points and reduces the amount by which the interest rate for taxable notes is adjusted relative to tax-exempt notes.

The changes will ensure the MLF continues to provide an effective backstop to assist U.S. states and local governments as they weather the pandemic.

The MLF was established under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, with approval of the Treasury Secretary. It offers up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities to help manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Money policy statement

Federal Reserve Board Issues Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement including decisions on implementing the money policy stance.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Regulatory Relief Extension

The Federal Reserve Board announced an extension through December 31 of its lending facilities that were scheduled to expire on or around September 30. The three-month extension will facilitate planning by potential facility participants and provide certainty that the facilities will continue to be available to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Regulatory Relief, Emergency Lending Facilities Expansion

The Federal Reserve Board has broadened the set of firms eligible to transact with and provide services in three emergency lending facilities. Encouraging a broader range of agents for the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) and counterparties for the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF) will increase the Federal Reserve’s operational capacity and insight into the respective markets.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Rule Extension

The OCC, Board, FDIC, FCA, and FHFA (each an Agency and, collectively, the Agencies) are adopting

and inviting comment on an interim final rule amending the Agencies’ regulations that require swap dealers, security-based swap dealers, major swap participants, and major security-based swap participants under the Agencies’ respective jurisdictions to exchange margin with their counterparties for swaps that are not centrally cleared (non-cleared swaps) (Swap Margin Rule).

Under the Swap Margin Rule, as amended, initial margin requirements will take effect under a phased compliance schedule spanning from 2016 through 2020, and in a final rule published in the Federal Register, the Agencies have extended the phase-in period to 2021.

Due to the COVID–19 pandemic, the Agencies are extending by one year the phases 5 and 6 implementation deadlines for initial margin requirements from September 1, 2020, to September 1, 2021 (for phase 5) and from September 1, 2021, to September 1, 2022 (for phase 6). The Agencies’ objective is to give covered swap entities additional time to meet their initial margin requirements under the rule so as not to hamper any efforts  underway to address exigent circumstances caused by COVID–19.

DATES: The interim final rule is effective September 1, 2020. Comments should be received on or before August 31, 2020.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Speech

FRB Governor Lael Brainard remarks at the Perspectives on the Pandemic Webinar Series, hosted by the National Association for Business Economics; highlighting economic impacts as a result of the pandemic.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Testimony – Coronavirus & CARES Act

FRB Chairman Jerome H. Powell testifies before before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.  Chairman Powell highlighted the economy in light of coronavirus and recent impact of the CARES Act in providing stability to the economy.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Market liquidity

The Federal Reserve Board announced updates to the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF), which will begin buying a broad and diversified portfolio of corporate bonds to support market liquidity and the availability of credit for large employers.

As detailed in a revised term sheet and updated FAQs, the SMCCF will purchase corporate bonds to create a corporate bond portfolio that is based on a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds. This index is made up of all the bonds in the secondary market that have been issued by U.S. companies that satisfy the facility’s minimum rating, maximum maturity, and other criteria. This indexing approach will complement the facility’s current purchases of exchange-traded funds.

The Primary Market and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities were established with the approval of the Treasury Secretary and with $75 billion in equity provided by the Treasury Department from the CARES Act.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Monetary Policy

FRB Chairman Jerome H. Powell testifies before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate; highlighting the semiannual Monetary Policy Report and the challenges caused by the pandemic.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair, Richard H. Clarida remarks at the Foreign Policy Association highlighting the current economic situation and outlook.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Monetary policy strategy

The Federal Reserve Board released a report, Fed Listens: Perspectives from the Public, summarizing the 15 Fed Listens events held by the Board and the Federal Reserve Banks since the beginning of 2019, including the most recent event to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fed Listens events are part of the Federal Reserve’s review of monetary policy strategy, tools, and communication practices.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economic Outlook

The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term. In light of these developments, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.

To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions. In addition, the Open Market Desk will continue to offer large-scale overnight and term repurchase agreement operations. The Committee will closely monitor developments and is prepared to adjust its plans as appropriate.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Lending

The Federal Reserve Board expanded its Main Street Lending Program to allow more small and medium-sized businesses to be able to receive support. The Board lowered the minimum loan amount, raised the maximum loan limit, adjusted the principal repayment schedule to begin after two years, and extended the term to five years, providing borrowers with greater flexibility in repaying the loans. The Board expects the Main Street program to be open for lender registration soon and to be actively buying loans shortly afterwards.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Regulatory relief, MLF expansion

The Federal Reserve Board announced an expansion in the number and type of entities eligible to directly use its Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). Under the new terms, all U.S. states will be able to have at least two cities or counties eligible to directly issue notes to the MLF regardless of population. Governors of each state will also be able to designate two issuers in their jurisdictions whose revenues are generally derived from operating government activities (such as public transit, airports, toll facilities, and utilities) to be eligible to directly use the facility.

In addition to the expanded terms outlined above, the MLF continues to be directly open to U.S. states, the District of Columbia, U.S. cities with a population of at least 250,000 residents, U.S. counties with a population of at least 500,000 residents, and certain multistate entities.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair Richard H. Clarida remarks at the New York Association for Business Economics, highlighting the effect of COVID-19 on the economic situation and outlook.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Chair Jerome H. Powell and Governor Lael Brainard remark at a Fed Listens Event sponsored by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Chair Powell and Governor Brainard highlighted COVID-19 and its impact on communities in their remarks.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Chair Jerome H. Powell testifies before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.  Chair Powell highlighted the Federal Reserve’s response to the coronavirus including the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) which he stated was critical in enabling the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to establish many of the current lending programs in support of the economy.  Chair Powell’s testimony also included a review of the steps taken to support the longer-term, market-based financing that is critical to economic activity and the ongoing work of the Federal Reserve during these challenging times.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

The report draws from the Board’s seventh annual Survey of Household Economics and Decision making (SHED), which examines the economic well-being and financial lives of U.S. adults and their families. The 2019 complete survey was conducted in October 2019, offering a picture of personal finances prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. To obtain updated information in the midst of closures and stay-at-home orders, a smaller supplemental survey was conducted in April 2020, focusing on labor market effects and households’ overall financial circumstances at that time.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

FRB Vice Chair for Supervision Randal K. Quarles testifies before the Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions highlighting the Federal Reserve’s approach to supporting the nation’s economy, maintaining the supply of credit, and reducing the economic impact of the various containment measures taken in response to public health concerns.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Economy

SEC Chair Jerome H. Powell remarks at the Peterson Institute for International Economics highlighting the effects of COVID-19 on economic and social activity and discusses recent measures taken to offset the economic effect of the virus and the path ahead.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Community Reinvestment

FRB Governor Lael Brainard gives welcome remarks at the ‘Investment Connection- Response to COVID-19: Colorado webinar series’ hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City highlighting the Federal Reserve’s actions to address the coronavirus crisis.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Monetary Policy

The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals.  The coronavirus outbreak is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. The virus and the measures taken to protect public health are inducing sharp declines in economic activity and a surge in job losses. Weaker demand and significantly lower oil prices are holding down consumer price inflation. The disruptions to economic activity here and abroad have significantly affected financial conditions and have impaired the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses.

The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term. In light of these developments, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.

The Committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook, including information related to public health, as well as global developments and muted inflation pressures, and will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy. In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the stance of monetary policy, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its maximum employment objective and its symmetric 2 percent inflation objective. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments.

To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions. In addition, the Open Market Desk will continue to offer large-scale overnight and term repurchase agreement operations. The Committee will closely monitor market conditions and is prepared to adjust its plans as appropriate.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Expanded MLF Scope

The Federal Reserve Board announced an expansion of the scope and duration of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF). The facility, which was announced on April 9 as part of an initiative to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support U.S. households, businesses, and communities, will offer up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities to help manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The facility, as revised, will purchase up to $500 billion of short-term notes issued by U.S. states (including the District of Columbia), U.S. counties with a population of at least 500,000 residents, and U.S. cities with a population of at least 250,000 residents. The new population thresholds allow substantially more entities to borrow directly from the MLF than the initial plan announced on April 9. The facility continues to provide for states, cities, and counties to use the proceeds of notes purchased by the MLF to purchase similar notes issued by, or otherwise to assist, other political subdivisions and governmental entities. The expansion announced also allows participation in the facility by certain multistate entities.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Market Stability

FRB Chairman Jerome Powell remarks at the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. (via webcast) highlighting the CARES Act, and the importance of stability in the financial markets.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Market Stability

To support the credit needs of American households and businesses, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it will establish a Primary Dealer Credit Facility, or PDCF. The facility will allow primary dealers to support smooth market functioning and facilitate the availability of credit to businesses and households.

The PDCF will offer overnight and term funding with maturities up to 90 days and will be available on March 20, 2020. It will be in place for at least six months and may be extended as conditions warrant. Credit extended to primary dealers under this facility may be collateralized by a broad range of investment grade debt securities, including commercial paper and municipal bonds, and a broad range of equity securities. The interest rate charged will be the primary credit rate, or discount rate, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Market Stability

The Federal Reserve Board expanded its program of support for the flow of credit to the economy by taking steps to enhance the liquidity and functioning of crucial state and municipal money markets. Through the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, or MMLF, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston will now be able to make loans available to eligible financial institutions secured by certain high-quality assets purchased from single state and other tax-exempt municipal money market mutual funds.

The attached term sheet details the assets that are eligible under the MMLF program, as well as additional information.

More detailed program terms and conditions and an operational calendar will be published soon.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Market Stability

FRB Announces coordinated central bank action to futher enhance provisions of U.S. dollar liquidity.

The Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, and the Swiss National Bank are today announcing a coordinated action to further enhance the provision of liquidity via the standing U.S. dollar liquidity swap line arrangements.

To improve the swap lines’ effectiveness in providing U.S. dollar funding, these central banks have agreed to increase the frequency of 7-day maturity operations from weekly to daily. These daily operations will commence on Monday, March 23, 2020, and will continue at least through the end of April. The central banks also will continue to hold weekly 84-day maturity operations.

The swap lines among these central banks are available standing facilities and serve as an important liquidity backstop to ease strains in global funding markets, thereby helping to mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses, both domestically and abroad.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Money Market

The Federal Reserve Board broadened its program of support for the flow of credit to households and businesses by taking steps to enhance the liquidity and functioning of crucial money markets. Through the establishment of a Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, or MMLF, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston will make loans available to eligible financial institutions secured by high-quality assets purchased by the financial institution from money market mutual funds.

Money market funds are common investment tools for families, businesses, and a range of companies. The MMLF will assist money market funds in meeting demands for redemptions by households and other investors, enhancing overall market functioning and credit provision to the broader economy.

Federal bank regulatory agencies (FBR, OCC and FDIC) have issued a interim final rule for the Money Market Liquidity Facility.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Federal Open Market Committee

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is taking further actions to support the flow of credit to households and businesses by addressing strains in the markets for Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities. The Federal Reserve will continue to purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions. The Committee will include purchases of agency commercial mortgage-backed securities in its agency mortgage-backed security purchases. In addition, the Open Market Desk will continue to offer large-scale overnight and term repurchase agreement operations. The Committee will continue to closely monitor market conditions, and will assess the appropriate pace of its securities purchases at future meetings.

 

Federal Reserve Board | Commercial Paper Funding Facility

The Federal Reserve Board announced that it will establish a Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) to support the flow of credit to households and businesses. Commercial paper markets directly finance a wide range of economic activity, supplying credit and funding for auto loans and mortgages as well as liquidity to meet the operational needs of a range of companies. By ensuring the smooth functioning of this market, particularly in times of strain, the Federal Reserve is providing credit that will support families, businesses, and jobs across the economy. The CPFF will provide a liquidity backstop to U.S. issuers of commercial paper through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will purchase unsecured and asset-backed commercial paper rated A1/P1 (as of March 17, 2020) directly from eligible companies.

The CPFF program is established by the Federal Reserve under the authority of Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act, with approval of the Treasury Secretary.

 

Federal Reserve | Market stabilization

FRB takes action to foster maximum employment and price stability through the virus event.  Federal funds rate has been lower to a range of 0 to 1/4%.  This target range is expected to remain in place until confidence that economy has weathered events and is back on track to achieve maximum employment and price stability.  Also in support of credit needs of households and businesses, measures were announced related to discount window, intraday credit, bank capital and liquidity buffers, reserve requirement and U.S. dollar liquidity swap line arrangements.

SEC | Extension – Rule change comments

Certain of the Commission’s proposed actions have comment periods that have expired. We understand that challenges associated with COVID-19 may delay the completion and submission of some comment letters. The Commission and staff have historically considered comments submitted after a comment period closes but before adoption of a final rule or order, consistent with the Commission’s Informal and Other Procedures (17 C.F.R. 202.6). For the item listed below, the Commission will not take final action before May 1 in order to allow commenters additional time if needed:

  • Amendments to Rule 2-01, Qualifications of Accountants, File No: S7-26-19, Release Nos.: 33-10738, 34-87864, FR-86, IA-5422, IC-33737

 

SEC | Speech

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioner Elad Roisman summarize the work of the SEC in FY 2020 highlighing the Commission’s efforts in rulmaking, relief and enforcement during the pandemic.

 

SEC | Economy

The Securities and Exchange Commission published a staff report titled U.S. Credit Markets: Interconnectedness and the Efects of the COVID-19 Economic Shock, which focuses on the origination, disribution and secondary market fow of credit across U.S. credit markets. The staff report also addresses how the related interconnections in our credit markets operated as the efects of the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. In addition, staff will host a Roundtable on Interconnectedness and Risk in U.S. Credit Markets to discuss the issues raised in the report on the afternoon of Oct. 14.

 

SEC | Speech Regulatory Framework

SEC Director, Dalia Blass, gives keynote address; ” Regulating with our Eyes on the Future”, at Investment Company Institute 2020 Virtual Securities Law Developments Conference highlighting ‘how the Division is working to modernize the fund industry’s regulatory framework in a way that seeks to anticipate, or at least accommodate, future trends and developments.’

 

SEC | Public Statement

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, Director Dalia Blass and Commissioner Elad Roisman remark at the virtual meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee highlighting the work of the Committee in the area of private investments and the impact of COVID-19 on the asset management industry.

 

SEC | Public Statement

SEC Director, Division of Investment Management, Dalia Blass remarks on two important issues: first, the Division of Investment Management’s focus on international policy, particularly relating to the pandemic; and second, recent developments in Europe relating to MiFID II’s unbundling of research.

 

SEC | Regulatory relief, crowdfunding

The SEC is extending the effective date and applicability dates of the temporary final rules under Regulation Crowdfunding to facilitate capital formation for small businesses impacted by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The temporary final rules are intended to expedite the offering process for smaller, previously established companies directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 that are seeking to meet their funding needs through the offer and sale of securities pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding. The temporary final rules are designed to facilitate this offering process by providing tailored, conditional relief from certain requirements of Regulation Crowdfunding relating to the timing of the offering and the availability of financial statements required to be included in issuers’ offering materials while retaining appropriate investor protections.

Effective date: The amendments in this rule are effective from August 31, 2020, through September 1, 2021. The expiration date for the temporary final rules published May 7, 2020 (85 FR 27116) is extended from March 1, 2021, to September 1, 2021.

Applicability date: The temporary final rules apply to securities offerings initiated under Regulation Crowdfunding between May 4, 2020, and February 28, 2021.

 

SEC | Comments requested on FINRA proposal to provide additional relief

SEC seeks comments on FINRA proposal for immediate effectiveness to continue the temporary relief  provided through the FAQs by adopting Rules 1210.12 and 1220.07 to extend the 120-day period during which an individual can function as a principal or Operations Professional before having to pass an applicable qualification examination until December 31, 2020.

The proposed rule change would apply only to those individuals who were designated to function as a principal or Operations Professional prior to September 3, 2020. Any individuals designated to function as a principal or Operations Professional on or after September 3, 2020, would need to successfully pass an appropriate qualification examination within 120 days. The proposed rule change would extend the 120-day period that certain individuals can function as a principal or Operations Professional without having successfully passed an appropriate qualification examination through December 31, 2020.

 

SEC | Regulatory relief, Reg SHO

SEC Issues Order Granting Exemptions from Certain Rules Related to the Sale & Delivery of Physical Securities Under Regulation SHO Related to COVID-19.

 

SEC | Compliance risk considerations

SEC Issues Alert Highlighting Select COVID-19 Compliance Risks & Considerations for Broker-Dealers & Investment Advisers

 

SEC | Public statement

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Allison Herren-Lee, Elad Roisman and Hester Peirce remark at SEC Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Meeting highlighting the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the obstacles that many underrepresented entrepreneurs have historically faced in raising capital.

 

SEC | Regulatory relief, file transfer

In light of ongoing health and safety concerns related to coronavirus (COVID-19), the Division of Corporation Finance is providing a temporary secure file transfer process for the submission of supplemental materials pursuant to Securities Act Rule 418 and Exchange Act Rule 12b-4 and information subject to Rule 83 confidential treatment requests.

 

SEC | Public remarks on pandemic 

SEC Director Dalia Blass, Division of Investment Management, remarks on the challenges imposed by COVID-19, recent rulemaking initiatives and regulatory relief over the past year.

 

SEC | Statement

One of the COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group’s initial initiatives has been the exploration of whether credit assessments and credit rating agency downgrades and market anticipation of, and responses to, those ratings actions may (1) contribute to negative procyclicality in certain circumstances and (2) have implications for financial stability.  The interrelationships between ratings actions, procyclicality and financial stability is a topic that other members of the global financial regulatory community are also examining, and we have benefited from our ongoing coordination and sharing of analysis and observations with them.

“While our work on this topic and more broadly, other issues relating to COVID-19’s effects on markets, issuers and investors is ongoing, we have several initial observations concerning ratings actions, procyclicality and financial stability issues that we believe would be helpful to share with the public.”

 

SEC | Public Statement

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton remarks at the Financial Stability Oversight Council meeting highlighting SEC efforts to help facilitate the orderly and fair market function, including in coordination with colleagues at the Federal Reserve and Treasury.  Chairman Clayton also remarked on the recent work of the COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group.

 

SEC | Temporary extension – Office Inspections

The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.

FINRA is proposing to adopt temporary Supplementary Material .16 (Temporary Extension of Time to Complete Office Inspections) under FINRA Rule 3110 (Supervision) that, in light of the operational challenges member firms are facing due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), would extend the time by which member firms must complete their calendar year 2020 inspection obligations under Rule 3110(c) (Internal Inspections) to March 31, 2021.4

 

SEC | Reg S-T Rule 302(b) Document retention requirement

The staff of the Division of Corporation Finance, the Division of Investment Management, and the Division of Trading and Markets has received inquiries from persons and entities subject to Regulation S-T regarding the authentication document retention requirements under Rule 302(b) in light of health, transportation, and other logistical issues raised by the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  Given the public health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, the staff is providing this statement to those affected by COVID-19 regarding Rule 302(b) of Regulation S-T.

SEC | Form 144

The staff of the Division of Corporation Finance is aware of logistical difficulties of submitting Forms 144 in paper given the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In light of ongoing health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, the staff is providing this statement to those affected by COVID-19 regarding Forms 144. This staff statement is temporary and covers those who submit Forms 144 until the staff provides public notice that it no longer will be in effect; that notice will be published at least two weeks before the announced termination date.

SEC | Forms Other than 144

The staff of the Division of Corporation Finance (CF) is aware of logistical difficulties submitting certain forms (other than Forms 144) in paper given the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  In light of ongoing health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, the staff is providing this statement to those affected by COVID-19 regarding the forms listed. This staff statement is temporary and covers those who submit the listed forms until the staff provides public notice that it no longer will be in effect; that notice will be published at least two weeks before the announced termination date.

SEC | Update – Extension of Relief for Transfer Agents & Others

On March 20, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) issued an order pursuant to its authority under Sections 36 and 17A(c)(1) of the Exchange Act that granted transfer agents (and other persons with regard to Exchange Act section 17(f)(2) and Rule 17f-2 thereunder) the following temporary exemptions:

(1) transfer agents from the requirements of Sections 17A and 17(f)(1) of the Exchange Act, as well as Rules 17Ad-1 through 17Ad-11, 17Ad-13 through 17Ad-20, and 17f-1 thereunder; and

(2) transfer agents and other persons subject to such requirements, from the requirements of Section 17(f)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rule 17f-2 thereunder (collectively, the “Exemptions”). The Exemptions were granted in light of the challenges that may be presented by COVID-19 and originally were scheduled to expire on May 30, 2020. On May 27, 2020, the Commission issued an order extending the Exemptions until June 30, 2020.

The Commission understands that COVID-19 may continue to present challenges for transfer agents and other persons in timely meeting certain of their obligations under the federal securities laws. For this reason and the reasons stated in the Order originally granting the Exemptions, the Commission finds that extending the Exemptions pursuant to its authority under Sections 36 and 17A(c)(1) of the Exchange Act, is appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 17A and 36 of the Exchange Act, that the time period for the Exemptions specified in the Order is hereby extended to the date to be specified in a public notice from Commission staff specifying the date on which the Exemptions will terminate. Such date shall be at least two weeks from the date of the Commission staff public notice. Transfer agents and other persons seeking to avail themselves of this relief must satisfy certain conditions.

SEC | Statement on Temporary International Mail Suspension

The staff in the Division of Trading and Markets and the Division of Investment Management has received inquiries from persons and entities regarding requirements under the federal securities laws to mail certain regulatory communications to shareholders, clients and customers who (1) have mailing addresses located in international jurisdictions where the United States Postal Service,  other common carrier, or public or private foreign postal operator has temporarily suspended international mail service due to impacts related to the coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”) and (2) have not consented to electronic delivery of these regulatory communications. Division staff received these inquiries from persons and entities that include broker-dealers, investment advisers, and other intermediaries with clients or customers in Affected Jurisdictions, as well as registered investment companies that offer shares directly and who have shareholders in Affected Jurisdictions.

SEC | Update – Paper Submissions

SEC Division of Trading & Markets Updates Statement on Requirements for Certain Paper Submissions in Light of COVID-19 Concerns

SEC | Regulatory Relief Update

SEC Chair, Jay Clayton and Directors, William Hinman, Dalia Blass, and Brett Redfearn provide a summary of the current targeted, temporary relief and assistance provided by the Commission and staff, along with the staff’s views on whether and, if so, how that relief should be adjusted taking into account market outreach and observations.  “It is clear that the need for certain relief remains, such as relief to ensure continued remote operations and to provide flexibility in light of continued market volatility.  Other forms of current relief, however, are unlikely to be extended.  For example, the Commission and its staff provided temporary, targeted, and conditional relief and assistance to issuers and registrants from certain filing and delivery deadlines in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 on operations while also maintaining important investor protections.  As market participants have worked to implement business continuity plans and adjusted in many cases to a more remote and distributed workforce, the present need for extensions of certain regulatory deadlines has diminished.”

SEC | Capital markets & emergency lending

SEC Chairman Clayton provides testimony before the Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship and Capital Markets Subcommittee, US House Committee on Financial Services on capital markets and emergency lending in the COVID-19 Era.

SEC | Financial Reporting

SEC Chief Accountant Remarks on the Continued Importance of High-Quality Financial Reporting for Investors in Light of COVID-19.

SEC | Disclosures

This guidance provides additional views of the Division of Corporation Finance (CF) regarding operations, liquidity, and capital resources disclosures companies should consider with respect to business and market disruptions related to COVID-19.

SEC | Regulatory relief extension

The Securities and Exchange Commission is extending conditional relief from the in-person voting requirements for fund boards that it originally provided in March 2020.  That relief will now extend at least through December 31, 2020.  This extension is designed to provide flexibility to boards of registered funds and business development companies (funds) that may continue to face challenges meeting in person.

SEC | Regulatory relief, Bank solicitation by Municipal Advisors

The SEC is granting a temporary conditional exemption from broker registration under Section 15 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for registered municipal advisors to address disruption in the municipal securities markets as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic. The temporary conditional exemption permits registered municipal advisors to solicit banks, their wholly-owned subsidiaries that are engaged in commercial lending and financing activities, and credit unions in connection with direct placements of securities issued by their municipal issuer clients, subject to the requirements set forth.

DATES: This exemptive order is effective from the date of this Order until December 31, 2020.

SEC | Notarization

If you submitted (or plan to submit) an application for EDGAR access pursuant to temporary final Rule 10(c) of Regulation S-T between March 26, 2020 and July 1, 2020, due to inability to obtain notarization of Form ID during the COVID-19 pandemic, please be reminded to submit the required notarized authentication document as correspondence to EDGAR within 90 days of the day you submitted your application for EDGAR access. Failure to do so may result in suspension of your access to EDGAR.

Please submit the notarized authentication document—a PDF copy of a notarized Form ID signed by an authorized person of the entity—as correspondence (CORRESP) on EDGAR. Instructions for submitting the notarized authentication document are available on the EDGAR – How Do I page of SEC.gov under the section “Save authentication document as a PDF File in Adobe Acrobat / Adobe Reader.”

SEC | Investor Protection

FINRA, NASAA and SEC Staff have joined together to provide this warning to investors about promoters targeting retirement accounts, as well as to provide a few key considerations for investors thinking of using 401(k) withdrawals or loans to purchase securities.

The CARES Act of 2020 provides significant relief for businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes allowing retirement investors affected by the coronavirus to gain access to up to $100,000 of their retirement savings without being subject to early withdrawal penalties and with an expanded window for paying the income tax they owe on the amounts they withdraw.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous promoters have used these CARES Act benefits to encourage investors to take money from their 401(k)s or traditional IRAs, not for current emergency financial needs, but to buy investments (often riskier ones) in an account at a firm the promoter recommends or in the investor’s existing account.

SEC | CAT reporting

The Securities and Exchange Commission publishes effective date of amendments to the national market system plan governing the consolidated audit trail. The amendments impose public transparency requirements on the self regulatory organizations that are participants in the plan. Under the amendments, plan participants are required to publish and file with the Securities and Exchange Commission a complete implementation plan for the consolidated audit trail and quarterly progress reports. The amendments also establish financial accountability provisions.

The amendments will become effective on June 22, 2020.

SEC | Regulatory response highlighted

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman give opening remarks at the meeting of the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee (FIMSAC) highlighting the work of the Committee in assisting the Commission with its efforts to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the fixed income market; and the need to continue the work of the Committee through 2021.

SEC | Investor impact statements

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Director, Division of Investment Management Dalia Blass give opening remarks at the meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on investors, investment products and the financial market.

SEC | No action relief reaffirmed, TALF

On March 23, 2020, the Federal Reserve Board, with the approval of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, established TALF 2020 in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global financial markets. To the extent that investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 are considering participating in TALF 2020, we wanted to bring to your attention two no-action letters that we had issued in 2009, one to Franklin Templeton Investments and one to T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., relating to the Term-Asset Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) established by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board in response to the financial crisis of 2008 (“TALF 2008”).

In the staff’s view, the terms and conditions of TALF 2020 are substantially similar to those of TALF 2008 for purposes of the staff no-action positions taken in the 2009 Letters. Accordingly, we reaffirm our no-action positions in the 2009 Letters as they may relate to registered investment companies’ participation in TALF 2020.

SEC | Comments sought on Temporary Proposed Rule Change

SEC seeks comment on FINRA Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change to Temporarily Amend Certain Timing, Method of Service and Other Procedural Requirements in FINRA Rules During the Outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

SEC | Regulatory Relief Extension

On March 20, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an order pursuant to its authority under Sections 36 and 17A(c)(1) of the Exchange Act that granted transfer agents (and other persons with regard to Exchange Act section 17(f)(2) and Rule 17f-2 thereunder) the following temporary exemptions:

(1) transfer agents from the requirements of Sections 17A and 17(f)(1) of the Exchange Act, as well as Rules 17Ad-1 through 17Ad-11, 17Ad-13 through 17Ad-20, and 17f-1 thereunder; and

(2) transfer agents and other persons subject to such requirements, from the requirements of Section 17(f)(2) of the Exchange Act and Rule 17f-2 thereunder (collectively, the “Exemptions”).  The Exemptions were granted in light of the challenges that may be presented by COVID-19 and are scheduled to expire on May 30, 2020

The Commission understands from transfer agents and their representatives, as well as other persons, that COVID-19 may continue to present challenges in timely meeting certain of their obligations under the federal securities laws.

For this reason and the reasons stated in the Order originally granting the Exemptions, the Commission finds that extending the Exemptions until June 30, 2020, pursuant to its authority under Sections 36 and 17A(c)(1) of the Exchange Act, is appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors.

SEC | Regulatory relief extended to FINRA

Based on the facts and circumstances discussed in FINRA’s Request, and without necessarily concurring in conclusions and analysis, the Trading and Markets Division Staff would not recommend enforcement action to the Commission against FINRA under Exchange Act Section 19(g)(1) if FINRA, in certain limited circumstances, and only on a temporary basis and under specific circumstances, issues targeted, solely technical or ministerial COVID-19 Guidance and Temporary Regulatory Relief from obligations under FINRA’s rules that may result in FINRA not complying with Exchange Act Sections 19(b)(1) and 19(g)(1), and Exchange Act Rule 19b-4.

SEC | Overview of SEC’s response to virus

The SEC Co-Director, Division of Enforcement, Steven Peikin gives Keynote Address highlighting the Division’s significant time and resources on responding to COVID-related matters. Director Peikin also described ongoing non-COVID-19 work including continuing with hundreds of investigations and litigations.

SEC | Market Monitoring 

On April 24, the SEC announced the formation of an internal, interdisciplinary COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group. This temporary, senior-level group was formed to assist the Commission and its various divisions and offices in (1) developing Commission and staff analyses and actions related to the effects of COVID-19 on markets, issuers and investors—including in particular our long-term Main Street investors, and (2) responding to requests for information, analyses and assistance from fellow regulators and other public sector partners on market matters arising from the effects of COVID-19.  While the COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group is now the focal point for managing and coordinating the agency’s efforts in this regard, the vast majority of the SEC’s COVID-19-related market monitoring and response work began several months ago and is informed on a continuous basis by the women and men working across the Commission.

The SEC has received inquiries from various parties regarding the work of the COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group.  This statement is intended to provide investors, other market participants and the public generally with further information about our ongoing efforts and, in particular information regarding (1) the status of our ongoing coordination with domestic and foreign regulatory partners and public sector officials, and (2) certain specific medium- and longer-term market analysis work streams.  We welcome continued public engagement on these matters.

SEC | Disclosures

The SEC Division of Corporation Finance (CF) issues COVID-19 related frequently asked questions (FAQs).  Because these responses relate to unique circumstances arising from COVID-19, the staff is not including them within our Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations. The staff may supplement or amend these responses.

  • What disclosure is required under the COVID-19 Order (Release No. 34-88465 (March 25, 2020) (“COVID-19 Order”)?
  • May a registrant continue to conduct takedowns using an already-effective registration statement while relying on the COVID-19 Order for a periodic report, including a Form 10-K?
  • With respect to an effective Form S-3, when must a registrant reassess its eligibility to remain on the form if it has relied on the COVID-19 Order to delay fling a Form 10-K that will serve as a Section 10(a)(3) update?
  • Is a registrant relying on the COVID-19 Order to delay a required filing eligible to file a new Form S-3 registration statement between the original due date of a filing and the extended due date, and will the staff accelerate the effectiveness of registration statements that do not contain all required information?

SEC | Disclosures

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioner Hester Peirce remark to the Special Meeting of the Investor Advisory Committee highlighting the importance of issuer-investor engagement in the context of the challenges posed by COVID-19 and disclosure considerations.

SEC | Disclosures

The effects of COVID-19 have raised uncertainties regarding the financial status of State and Local Governments and Special Purpose Entities. Municipal Securities Issuers are encouraged to provide updated financial and other disclosures; and Financial Professionals are encouraged to discuss these matters with Main Street Investors.

SEC | Regulatory Relief, Crowdfunding

The Securities and Exchange Commission is adopting temporary final rules to facilitate capital formation for small businesses impacted by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The temporary final rules are intended to expedite the offering process for smaller, previously established companies directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 that are seeking to meet their funding needs through the offer and sale of securities pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding. The temporary final rules are designed to facilitate this offering process by providing tailored, conditional relief from certain requirements of Regulation Crowdfunding relating to the timing of the offering and the availability of financial statements required to be included in issuers’ offering materials while retaining appropriate investor protections.

Effective date: The amendments are effective from May 4, 2020, through March 1, 2021.

Applicability date: The amendments apply to securities offerings initiated under Regulation Crowdfunding between May 4, 2020, and August 31, 2020.

SEC | Market Monitoring

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the formation of an internal, cross-divisional COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group.  This temporary, senior-level group will assist the Commission and its various divisions and offices in (1) Commission and staff actions and analysis related to the effects of COVID-19 on markets, issuers, and investors—including our Main Street investors, and (2) responding to requests for information, analysis and assistance from fellow regulators and other public sector partners.

The COVID-19 Market Monitoring Group will work closely with personnel from across the agency, including staff in the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA), Division of Trading and Markets, Division of Investment Management, Division of Corporation Finance, Office of Municipal Securities, Office of Credit Ratings, Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), Office of International Affairs, Office of the Chief Accountant and the SEC’s Activities-Based Monitoring Committee, among others.  The group will also assist in the SEC’s efforts to coordinate with and support the COVID-19-related efforts of other federal financial agencies and other bodies, including the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG), Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), among others.

SEC | Forms Filings

The staff of the Division of Corporation Finance (CF) is aware of logistical difficulties submitting certain forms (other than Forms 144) in paper given the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  In light of ongoing health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, the staff is providing the following statement to those affected by COVID-19 regarding the forms listed below.  This staff statement is temporary and covers those who submit the following forms for the period from and including April 23, 2020 to June 30, 2020:

  • Annual reports to security holders furnished by foreign private issuers on Form 6-K pursuant to Rule 101(b)(1) of Regulation S-T;
  • Forms 11-K pursuant to Rule 101(b)(3) of Regulation S-T;
  • Periodic reports and distribution reports filed by certain international development banks pursuant to Rule 101(b)(5) of Regulation S-T;
  • Reports or other documents furnished by foreign private issuers on Form 6–K pursuant to Rule 101(b)(6) of Regulation S-T; and
  • Unabridged foreign language documents and English translations of a foreign government’s or its political subdivision’s latest annual budget pursuant to Rules 306(b) and (c) of Regulation S-T.

SEC | FAQ, Financial Responsibility Rules

The Division of Trading and Markets, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, has prepared responses to questions about certain provisions of the broker-dealer financial responsibility rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expects to update from time to time the staff’s responses to additional questions.  The following topics are included in this guidance:

  • Prompt Transmission of Customer Checks under 15c3-3(k)(2)
  • Quarterly Securities Count of Physical Certificates

SEC | Regulatory Relief Extension

The Division of Investment Management is extending the EDGAR filing window on April 29, 2020, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) for registered investment company and business development company filings to mitigate potential filing delays due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.  A registered investment company or business development company filing submitted after 5:30 p.m. EDT would normally be considered to be filed the next business day, but instead if it is filed by 10:00 p.m. EDT on April 29, 2020, the SEC will automatically adjust its filing date in EDGAR to reflect April 29.  The SEC will make the adjustment on April 30 or as soon as practicable thereafter.  Filers who do not intend a filing date adjustment should notify IMEmergency@sec.gov.

This is a one-day extension only and therefore any registered investment company or business development company requiring a subsequent filing window extension should submit a request to IMEmergency@sec.gov.

SEC | Regulatory Relief, CAT NMS Plan

The SEC issues Order granting limited exemptive relief under Rule 608(e) of the Exchange Act to allow for the implementation of Phased Reporting for Industry Members and that, pursuant to Rule 608(e), such relief is consistent with the public interest, the protection of investors, the maintenance of fair and orderly markets and the removal of impediments to, and perfection of the mechanisms of, a national market system.

Although the Participants proposed in the February 19, 2020 Exemption Request that Phase 2a reporting would commence on April 20, 2020 and Phase 2b reporting would commence on May 18, 2020, in light of COVID-19 and the Participants’ subsequent March 19, 2020 No Action Request, the Commission believes that the Participants should be granted an exemption from the CAT NMS Plan so that the Compliance Rules may require Phase 2a reporting to commence on June 22, 2020 and Phase 2b reporting to commence on July 20, 2020, provided that Industry Members who elect to report to the CAT prior to such dates be permitted to report to the CAT as early as April 20, 2020 for Phase 2a reporting and as early as May 18, 2020 for Phase 2b reporting.

Based on the foregoing, the Commission is granting this conditional exemptive relief from Sections 6.4, 6.7(a)(v) and 6.7(a)(vi) of the CAT NMS Plan related to Industry Member reporting of Industry Member Data to the Central Repository to allow for the implementation of Phased Reporting subject to conditions.

SEC | Regulatory Relief,  Comment Period Extension

Certain of the Commission’s proposed actions have comment periods that have expired. We understand that challenges associated with COVID-19 may delay the completion and submission of some comment letters. The Commission and staff have historically considered comments submitted after a comment period closes but before adoption of a final rule or order, consistent with the Commission’s Informal and Other Procedures (17 C.F.R. 202.6). For the pending item listed below,

the Commission will not take final action before May 1 in order to allow commenters additional time if needed.

  • Proposed Revisions to Prohibitions and Restrictions on Proprietary Trading and Certain Interests in, and Relationships With, Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds, File No. S7-02-20, Release No. BHCA-8

SEC | Regulatory Relief,  Comment Period Extension

Certain of the Commission’s proposed actions have comment periods that have expired. We understand that challenges associated with COVID-19 may delay the completion and submission of some comment letters. The Commission and staff have historically considered comments submitted after a comment period closes but before adoption of a final rule or order, consistent with the Commission’s Informal and Other Procedures (17 C.F.R. 202.6). For the item listed below the Commission will not take final action before May 1 in order to allow commenters additional time if needed.

  • Use of Derivatives by Registered Investment Companies and Business Development Companies; Required Due Diligence by Broker-Dealers and Registered Investment Advisers Regarding Retail Customers’ Transactions in Certain Leveraged/Inverse Investment Vehicles, File No. File No: S7-24-15, Release Nos.: 34-87607, IA-5413, IC-33704

SEC | Regulatory Relief,  Comment Period Extension

Certain of the Commission’s proposed actions have comment periods that have expired. We understand that challenges associated with COVID-19 may delay the completion and submission of some comment letters. The Commission and staff have historically considered comments submitted after a comment period closes but before adoption of a final rule or order, consistent with the Commission’s Informal and Other Procedures (17 C.F.R. 202.6). For the pending item listed below, the Commission will not take final action before May 1 in order to allow commenters additional time if needed.

  • Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers, File No: S7-24-19, Release No. 34-87783

SEC | Regulatory Relief,  Comment Period Extension

Certain of the Commission’s proposed actions have comment periods that have expired. We understand that challenges associated with COVID-19 may delay the completion and submission of some comment letters. The Commission and staff have historically considered comments submitted after a comment period closes but before adoption of a final rule or order, consistent with the Commission’s Informal and Other Procedures (17 C.F.R. 202.6). For the pending item listed below, the Commission will not take final action before May 1 in order to allow commenters additional time if needed.

  • Amending the “Accredited Investor” Definition, File No: S7-25-19, Release Nos.: 33-10734, 34-87784

SEC | Regulatory Relief,  Comment Period Extension

Certain of the Commission’s proposed actions have comment periods that have expired. We understand that challenges associated with COVID-19 may delay the completion and submission of some comment letters. The Commission and staff have historically considered comments submitted after a comment period closes but before adoption of a final rule or order, consistent with the Commission’s Informal and Other Procedures (17 C.F.R. 202.6). For the item listed below, the Commission will not take final action before May 1 in order to allow commenters additional time if needed:

  • Amendments to Rule 2-01, Qualifications of Accountants, File No: S7-26-19, Release Nos.: 33-10738, 34-87864, FR-86, IA-5422, IC-33737

SEC | FAQ

The staff of the Division of Investment Management (IM) has prepared responses to questions about funds and advisers affected by COVID-19. These responses represent the views of the staff of the Division. They are not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC has neither approved nor disapproved this content. These responses, like all staff guidance, have no legal force or effect: they do not alter or amend applicable law, and they create no new or additional obligations for any person.

SEC | Timely Delivery of Disclosures

The Division of Investment Management (IM) continues to closely monitor the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) and consider the interests of long-term Main Street investors, who access the capital markets mainly through investment companies. In that regard, we are focused on ensuring that investment companies continue to meet their obligations under the federal securities laws to provide material and timely information to investors. In light of the current uncertainties and market disruptions, investors need high-quality financial information more than ever. We are committed to promoting the updating and delivery of such information, which is particularly important to keep Main Street investors up to date about their investments.

Over the past several weeks, the staff and the Commission have provided guidance and targeted, conditional, and temporary relief as appropriate and as circumstances warrant. Some of the relief issued was responsive to the operational challenges faced by funds and other market participants as a result of the shifts to remote business operations. We are issuing this statement to emphasize the ongoing importance to update and deliver required information to investors in a timely manner consistent with investment companies’ disclosure obligations, even during this period of operational challenge.

SEC | Illicit Activity Warning

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Retail Strategy Task Force are issuing this Alert to educate Main Street investors about current investment frauds, including scams related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Fraudsters often seek to use national crises and periods of uncertainty to lure investors into scams.  They may play off investors’ hopes and fears, as well as their charity and kindness, and may try to exploit confusion or rumors in the marketplace.

You can also help others by reporting possible securities fraud to the SEC.  We strongly encourage anyone who becomes aware of possible securities fraud to report the activity using the SEC’s online tip, complaint, and referral (TCR) system at https://www.sec.gov/tcr.

SEC | Regulatory Relief, Email Delivery of Forms 144

The staff of the Division of Corporation Finance is aware of logistical difficulties of submitting Forms 144 in paper given the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In light of ongoing health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, the staff is providing the following statement to those affected by COVID-19 regarding Forms 144. This staff statement is temporary and covers those who submit Forms 144 for the period from and including April 10, 2020 to June 30, 2020.

Division of Corporation Finance staff will not recommend enforcement action to the Commission if Forms 144 filed in paper under Rules 101(b)(4) or 101(c)(6) of Regulation S-T are submitted via email in lieu of mailing or delivering the paper form to the SEC if the filer or submitter attaches a complete Form 144 as a PDF attachment to an email sent to PaperForms144@SEC.gov.

SEC | Regulatory Relief, Business Development Companies

The SEC announced that it is providing temporary, conditional exemptive relief for business development companies (BDCs) to enable them to make additional investments in small and medium-sized businesses, including those with operations affected by COVID-19.  BDCs were created to provide capital to smaller domestic operating companies that otherwise may not be able to readily access the capital markets.  This relief will provide additional flexibility for BDCs to issue and sell senior securities in order to provide capital to such companies, and to participate in investments in these companies alongside certain private funds that are affiliated with the BDC.  The relief is subject to investor protection conditions, including specific requirements for obtaining an independent evaluation of the issuance terms and approval by a majority of a BDC’s independent board members.

SEC | Disclosures

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Director, Division of Corporation Finance, William Hinman remark on the SEC’s three part mission to maintain market integrity, facilitate capital formation and protect investors.  Disclosure, providing the public with the information necessary to make informed investment decisions, is fundamental to furthering each aspect of our mission.

‘In the coming weeks, our public companies will be issuing earnings releases and conducting analyst and investor calls.  We urge companies to provide as much information as is practicable regarding their current financial and operating status, as well as their future operational and financial planning.  In an effort to facilitate robust disclosure and engagement, we provide observations and requests.

SEC | General Announcement

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, Commissioner Elad Roisman remark at the Open Meeting of the Securities and Exchange Commission highlighting the Commission’s action in response to congressional directives, which addresses investment companies, including those that invest in small and mid-size businesses—businesses that are critical to our nation’s economic recovery.

SEC | General Announcement, Hearing Requests

The Division of Investment Management’s (IM) Chief Counsel’s Office is responsible for reviewing applications under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940.  When the Commission issues a notice that an application has been filed, the notice generally outlines a procedure for interested persons to request a hearing on the matter. That procedure typically includes writing to the Commission’s Secretary, and the Commission’s notice includes the Commission’s physical mailing address. However, due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Commission will be requiring interested persons to submit written hearing requests by sending an e-mail to the Commission’s Secretary at Secretarys-Office@sec.gov. The Commission will reflect this e-mail requirement in forthcoming notices.

SEC | Regulatory Relief, Shareholder Meetings

The SEC Division of Corporation Finance (CF) has updated recent guidance to assist public companies, investment companies, shareholders, and other market participants affected by COVID-19 with their upcoming annual shareholder meetings.

SEC | General Statement, Comment Periods & Regulatory Action

SEC Commissioner Allison Herren Lee issued statement on staff priorities and challenges posed by COVID-19.  Two considerations highlighted that should inform the regulatory approach of the SEC in the current climate:

  • ‘First, we should move quickly and clearly to extend current and recently closed comment periods to ensure that the public has an adequate opportunity to provide full and complete comments on the Commission’s proposed regulatory actions.
  • Second, we should proceed with great caution in considering whether to take regulatory action outside of that called for by the current dire and pressing public health crisis and its ramifications for the public, investors, markets, and the economy.  A careful balancing of interests, including the burdens we all face in coping with the economic and social challenges of protecting ourselves, our families, and our nation, suggests that regulatory action in the near term not related to the exigencies created by COVID-19 would rarely be warranted.’

SEC | Regulatory Relief, Signature and Notary Requirements

The staff of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets has received inquiries from persons and entities regarding the requirements for certain forms and submissions that Division staff receives or otherwise reviews in light of health, transportation, and other logistical issues raised by the spread of COVID-19. In particular, some persons and entities have noted that they are experiencing logistical difficulties submitting certain documents in paper format, rather than electronically. In addition, some of these paper forms may require manual signatures and may also require those signatures to be notarized (collectively, the “Impacted Paper Submissions”). Further, broker-dealers filing their annual audited reports electronically through EDGAR may also find it impracticable to obtain notarization services as a result of COVID-19.

In light of these difficulties, Division staff is providing this statement to those affected by COVID-19 regarding these Impacted Paper Submissions acknowledging it will not seek enforcement if certain conditions are met as described in the statement.. This staff statement is temporary and covers those who submit Impacted Paper Submissions for the period from and including March 16, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

SEC | General Announcement

Where appropriate, the Commission and the staff have been ready to assist market participants with financial reporting issues.  For example, the Commission recently issued an order conditionally extending the temporary 45-day grace period for registrants affected by COVID-19 to file Exchange Act reports to include reports due through July 1, 2020.  The Division of Corporation Finance also provided guidance for companies as they assess COVID-19-related effects and consider their disclosure obligations.

Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA) is available to help companies, auditors, and others with complex accounting, financial reporting, independence, and auditing issues.  We are taking a proactive approach and have been engaged with stakeholders across the financial reporting ecosystem – e.g., preparers, auditors, audit committee members, investors, standard setters, and other regulators – on issues related to current market developments.  We remain available for consultation and encourage stakeholders to contact our office with questions they encounter as a result of COVID-19. We expect that our work in this area will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

SEC | Regulatory Relief, Filing Requirements 

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioner Hester M. Peirce remark on COVID-19 and the challenges for small business and the capital markets. Chair Clayton highlighted the SEC efforts to date including relief to companies with respect to certain filing obligations under Regulation A and Regulation Crowdfunding. Commissioner Peirce summarized the work of the Commission over the past month including a number of amendments designed to harmonize and simplify the framework for private offerings in light of COVID-19.

SEC | General Announcement

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton remarks at the special meeting of the Investor Advisory Committee highlighting the market and investment related issues facing retail investors, and Main Street investors as we collectively tackle the unprecedented national challenge posed by COVID-19.

Chairman Clayton provided a brief summary on the operations of the SEC in response to COVID-19 which included:

  • maintaining the continuity of Commission operations;
  • monitoring market functions and system risks;
  • providing prompt, targeted regulatory relief and guidance to issuers, investment advisers and other registrants impacted by COVID-19 to facilitate continuing operations, including in connection with the execution of their business continuity plans (BCPs); and
  • maintaining our enforcement and investor protection efforts, particularly with regard to the protection of our critical market systems and our most vulnerable investors

SEC | Comment period extension on Volcker Rule

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) announced that they will consider comments submitted before May 1, 2020, on their proposal to modify the Volcker rule’s general prohibition on banking entities investing in or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds—known as “covered funds.”

The agencies will continue to consider comments to provide interested persons more time to analyze the issues and prepare their comments in light of potential disruptions resulting from the coronavirus.  The proposal asked for comments to be submitted by April 1, 2020.

SEC | General Announcement

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton remarks on the challenges of COVID-19 and the functioning of our capital markets at the SEC Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee special meeting.

SEC | General Announcement

The uncertainties caused by COVID-19 have not changed SEC’s perspective or commitment. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton released a public statement highlighting approaches the SEC has taken to allocate resources, provide continued oversight and ongoing rulemaking in light of virus. Among other things, Chair Clayton acknowledges that the June 30, 2020 compliance date of Regulation BI and Form CRS remains appropriate.

SEC | Regulatory Guidance

The SEC Division of Corporation Finance (CF) staff publish updated Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations for Exchange Act rules Section 135: Questions 135-12 and 135-13 relating to Rule 12-b5 and Rule 12-b-25(b)(2)(ii) filing requirements in light of COVID-19.

SEC | Regulatory Relief | Filing Requirements

The SEC is adopting temporary final rules for Form ID filers and for issuers subject to reporting obligations pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A in order to address the needs of companies directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19.  The temporary final rules provide temporary relief from the Form ID notarization process for certain filers and extend the filing deadlines for specified reports and forms due pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A for certain issuers.

Effective dates:

The amendment to 17 CFR 232.10 (“Rule 10”) of Regulation S-T will be effective from the date of Public Inspection in the Federal Register through September 30, 2020.

The amendments to 17 CFR 227.202 (“Rule 202”) of Regulation Crowdfunding under the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) and 17 CFR 230.257 (“Rule 257”) of Regulation A under the Securities Act will be effective from the date of Public Inspection in the Federal Register through July 15, 2020.

SEC | Regulatory Relief | Filing Requirements

To address potential compliance issues municipal advisors may have in timely submitting annual update filings (Form MA-A), the SEC has extended a temporary conditional exemptive order that provides, subject to certain conditions, affected municipal advisors with an additional 45 days to file annual updates to Form MA that would have otherwise been due between March 26, 2020 and June 30, 2020.  Among other conditions, the municipal advisor must be unable to meet the filing deadline for its annual update to Form MA due to circumstances related to current or potential effects of COVID-19 and must provide a brief description of the reasons why it could not timely file.

SEC | Regulatory Relief  |Debt Securities Purchases

SEC has issued conditional no action relief under the Investment Company Act for affiliated purchases of debt securities from registered open-end investment companies Due to COVID-19.  Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a short-term dislocation in the market for a variety of debt securities (including, without limitation, commercial paper, corporate debt securities, certificates of deposit, asset-backed debt securities and municipal obligations.  SEC understand that purchasers may wish to purchase debt securities from the Funds in light of these dislocations to enhance the Funds liquidity and to fund shareholder redemptions, considering the signifcant securities market disruptions related to the COVID-19 outbreak, but are unable to do so due to the restrictions on affliated transactions contained in Section 17(a) of the Act.

SEC | Modified reporting and proxy delivery requirement relief

On March 4, 2020, in response to the potential effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an order (the “Original Order”) pursuant to its authority under Section 36 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 granting exemptions from certain provisions of that Act and the rules thereunder related to the reporting and proxy delivery requirements for certain public companies, subject to certain conditions.

The Commission has been monitoring the effects of COVID-19 and is now modifying the exemptions in light of its current understanding of the circumstances. The health and safety of all participants in the securities markets is of paramount importance, and the Commission recognizes that public companies and other market participants continue to face challenges in meeting the reporting and proxy delivery requirements of the federal securities laws in a timely manner.

For this reason and the reasons stated in the Original Order, the Commission finds that modifying the exemptions to cover filings due on or before July 1, 2020, pursuant to its authority under Section 36 the Exchange Act, is appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors. This Order supersedes the Original Order.

SEC | Public Statement

SEC Chair Clayton releases public state clarifying among other things that the SEC and other financial regulators are focused on two overriding and interrelated issues. First, we are facing an unprecedented national challenge — a health and safety crisis that requires all Americans, for the sake of all Americans, to significantly change their daily behavior and, for many, to make difficult personal sacrifices. Second, the recognition that the continuing, orderly operation of our markets is an essential component of our national response to, and recovery from, COVID-19.

SEC | Regulatory Relief

The Financial Information Forum (“FIF”) and Security Traders Association (“STA”) have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission an application for an exemption from certain requirements of Rule 606 of Regulation NMS under the Exchange Act in light of unforeseen and uncertain demands on information technology and other resources required to respond to COVID-19.

This order grants the following temporary exemptive relief from certain requirements of Rule 606 including:

(1) broker-dealers are exempt from the requirement to provide the public report covering the first quarter of 2020 required by Rule 606(a) until May 29, 2020;

(2) broker-dealers that engage in outsourced routing activity are exempt from the requirement to collect the monthly customer-specific data required by Rule 606(b)(3) for such activity until June 1, 2020, and are exempt until July 29, 2020, from the requirement to provide a customer-specific report of June 2020 outsourced routing data within seven business days for customer requests for such customer-specific reports that are made on or before July 17, 2020.

SEC | General Statement

SEC Chair Jay Clayton provides remarks at the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) open meeting highlighting the current national challenge with COVID-19 and the impact on the orderly operation of our credit and other capital markets.

SEC | Regulatory Relief Extended

The SEC has extended the filing periods covered by its previously enacted conditional reporting relief for certain public company filing obligations under the federal securities laws, and that it is also extending regulatory relief previously provided to funds and investment advisers whose operations may be affected by COVID-19. In addition, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance issued today its current views regarding disclosure considerations and other securities law matters related to COVID-19.

SEC | No Action Relief

The SEC has issued a statement expecting all persons and entities subject to Regulation S-T to comply with the requirements of Rule 302(b) to the fullest extent practicable based on their particular facts and circumstances. Understanding that some may experience difficulties satisfying these requirements due to circumstances arising from COVID-19, the SEC will not recommend
enforcement action with respect to the requirements of Rule 302(b) if a signatory retains a manually signed signature page or other document authenticating, acknowledging, or otherwise adopting his or her signature that appears in typed form within the electronic filing and provides such document, as promptly as reasonably practicable, to the filer for retention in the ordinary course pursuant to Rule 302(b); such document indicates the date and time when the signature was executed; and the filer establishes and maintains policies and procedures governing this process.

SEC | Guidance

The SEC issued guidance on assessing and disclosing the evolving impact of COVID-19; the need to refrain from trading ahead of dissemination of material non-public information; reporting earnings and financial results.

SEC | Form ADV

The SEC has issued an order extending certain Form ADV filing and delivery exemptions. This new order supersedes the March 13, 2020 order.

SEC | Fund-related relief

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced temporary flexibility for registered funds affected by recent market events to borrow funds from certain affiliates and to enter into certain other lending arrangements. This relief is designed to provide funds with additional tools to manage their portfolios for the benefit of all shareholders as investors may seek to rebalance their investments.

The Commission has issued the order as necessary and appropriate in the public interest and consistent with the protection of investors. For an entity seeking to rely on the order, attention is directed to its various conditions. Subject to these conditions, the order provides the following temporary exemptive relief from the Investment Company Act of 1940:

  • Relief permitting registered open-end funds and insurance company separate accounts to borrow money from certain affiliates;
  • Relief that permits additional flexibility under existing interfund lending arrangements and extends the ability to use interfund lending arrangements to funds that do not currently have exemptive relief; and,
  • Relief that permits registered open-end funds to enter into lending arrangements or borrowings that deviate from fundamental policies, subject to prior board approval.

This temporary relief will extend until the date specified in a public notice from the staff stating that the relief will terminate, which date will be at least two weeks from the date of the notice and no earlier than June 30, 2020.  The Commission may provide additional relief as circumstances warrant.

SEC | General Communication

Over the past several weeks, the women and men of the SEC have worked responsively, pragmatically and effectively with their colleagues at the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and other governmental authorities to ensure that our capital markets remain open and function well, consistent with evolving health and safety directives and other measures.

We stand ready to continue to work with federal and state authorities and market participants.  We are focused on ensuring that the business continuity plans of market participants are adjusted, as necessary or appropriate, to comply with health and safety measures, and that they also facilitate the continuing operation of our markets, market integrity and investor protection.

SEC | CAT / NMS Participants

Following the SEC Division’s March 16 No-Action Relief Letter, the Participants have received many questions from Industry Members and have been closely watching the rapid developments related to COVID-19, including the recent presidential declaration of a national emergency related to the pandemic, and believe that additional staff no-action relief is warranted.

The CAT has been available for testing by Industry Members since December 2019 and will be ready to accept CAT reports from Industry Members as of April 20, 2020. In addition, the Participants understand that Industry Members have been preparing to commence reporting equities to the CAT by April 20, 2020 and options by May 18, 2020, including satisfying various testing and other requirements necessary to commence such reporting.

In light of these exigent circumstances and based on the industry’s representations, the Participants request that the Division provide additional no-action relief from Section 19(g)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 608(c) of Regulation NMS to the Participants from enforcing CAT Equities Phase 2a implementation deadlines against Industry Members through Monday, June 22, 2020, and from enforcing CAT Options Phase 2b implementation deadlines against Industry Members through Monday, July 20, 2020.  Subject to the receipt of the requested no-action relief, the Participants note that they also would not enforce their CAT

Compliance Rules generally during this period, including, without limitation, applicable reporting error rates and compliance thresholds for Industry Members that begin reporting during the no-action periods.

SEC | Transfer Agents

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it is providing conditional regulatory relief for registered transfer agents and certain other persons with regulatory obligations under the federal securities laws.

The impacts of COVID-19 may present challenges for transfer agents and other persons that are affected either directly or indirectly by COVID-19.  To address these challenges, the Commission has issued an order that, subject to certain conditions, provides registered transfer agents and certain other persons with exemptive relief for certain regulatory obligations under the federal securities laws through May 30, 2020.  Importantly, however, transfer agents at all times continue to be subject to the requirements of Exchange Act Rule 17Ad-12, which requires transfer agents to ensure that they adequately safeguard securities and funds in their possession or custody.

Among other conditions, persons that wish to take advantage of the relief must provide written notification to the Commission that such person is taking advantage of the relief, a description of the specific regulatory obligations that the person is unable to comply with, and a statement of the reasons the person is unable to comply with such obligations.  The Commission may extend the time period for the relief, with any additional conditions it deems appropriate, or provide additional relief as circumstances warrant.

SEC | Dislocation 

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a short-term dislocation in the market for money market securities. This short-term dislocation is causing liquidity problems for securities that Funds hold. The SEC further understands that Purchasers may wish to purchase securities from the Funds in light of these dislocations, but are unable to do so in reliance on rule 17a-9 because of conflicting banking regulations to which they are subject (e.g., Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act and Regulation W, and certain exemptions).

Based on the information provided in the Investment Company Institute’s March 19, 2020 letter, the staff of the Division of Investment Management will not recommend enforcement action to the Securities and Exchange Commission against any registered open-end investment company that is regulated as a money market fund under rule 2a-7 under the Investment Company Act of 1940, or any affiliated person of the Fund (or any affiliated person of such person) that is subject to Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act and that purchases a security from a Fund (each, a “Purchaser”), under Section 17(a) of the Act or rule 17a-9 thereunder, if a Purchaser purchases securities from a Fund, under the circumstances and subject to certain conditions (the “Affiliated Purchases”).

SEC | Illicit Activities

The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted the securities markets in unprecedented ways. The SEC, other governmental authorities, and market participants have worked to ensure that our markets have continued to function, as many have transitioned to telework and instituted business continuity plans. The Commission has provided relief to facilitate these transitions.

We wish to emphasize the importance of maintaining market integrity and following corporate controls and procedures. For example, in these dynamic circumstances, corporate insiders are regularly learning new material nonpublic information that may hold an even greater value than under normal circumstances. This may particularly be the case if earnings reports or required SEC disclosure filings are delayed due to COVID-19. Given these unique circumstances, a greater number of people may have access to material nonpublic information than in less challenging times. Those with such access – including, for example, directors, officers, employees, and consultants and other outside professionals – should be mindful of their obligations to keep this information confidential and to comply with the prohibitions on illegal securities trading. Trading in a company’s securities on the basis of inside information may violate the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.

SEC | Pending Measures

SEC advises they will not take final action on a number of pending measures with open comment periods.  No final action will be taken before April 24th.

SEC | Taxes

The U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Treasury Department, and the Internal Revenue Service announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

The act will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

SEC | OCIE

The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) recognizes that health and other measures necessitated by COVID-19 may significantly alter the operations of registrants in the securities markets.  OCIE remains fully operational nationwide and continues to execute on its investor protection mission.  In light of health and safety concerns and other circumstances, OCIE has moved to conducting examinations off-site through correspondence, unless it is absolutely necessary to be on-site.  OCIE recognizes that registrants have taken similar steps and are devoting substantial time and attention to maintaining operations.

Recognizing these conditions and priorities, OCIE is working with registrants to address the timing of its requests, availability of registrant personnel, and other matters to minimize disruption.  Specifically, we will work with registrants to ensure that our work can be conducted in a manner consistent with maintaining normal operations, and importantly, necessary or appropriate health and safety measures.

SEC | Closures

SEC Issues Guidance Relating to Conducting Investment Advisory Business from a Temporary Location & Inadvertent Adviser Custody During a Temporary Office Closure Due to COVID-19.

SEC | General Communication

Federal financial institution regulators and state regulators encourage financial institutions to meet the financial needs of customers and members affected by virus event.

SEC | General Communication

SEC provides a virus update page on their website.  SEC is currently teleworking with limited exceptions.  SEC continues to monitor the markets, engage with market participants, and provide guidance and regulatory relief where appropriate.

SEC | CAT Implementation  

SEC provides regulatory relief through May 20, 2020.  They will not recommend enforcement action should CAT implementation deadlines not get met.

SEC | CAT Implementation  

SEC has issued no-action relief regarding the SRO’s enforcement of CAT compliance rules through May 20, 2020 to enable personnel who work on CAT matters to focus on maintaining critical operations and implement BCPs.

SEC | Guidance

SEC provides guidance to promote continued shareholder engagement.  Guidance is designed to facilitate the ability of companies to hold annual shareholder meetings virtually through the use of technology.


Testing Administration Updates

Developments from test administration companies.

Pearson Vue | Closures, Testing

Pearson Vue has extended their closure until at least April 30th.

Some testing centers are open with limited capacity in select states. Remote exam proctoring may also be available. Please see the State Activity section for state-specific testing details.

 

Pearson Vue | Closures, Testing

Pearson Vue has extended their exam closure to at least April 30.

 

Pearson Vue | Closures, Testing

All US Pearson Vue test centers are closed until April 16.

Prometric | Closures, Testing

Prometric has extended their closure until at least May 31st.

Some testing centers are open with limited capacity in select states. Remote exam proctoring may also be available. Please see the State Activity section for state-specific testing details.

 

Prometric | Closures, Testing

Prometric is still planning on reopening exam test centers on April 16.

 

Prometric | Closures, Testing

All Prometric exam centers in US and Canada are closed through April 15.

PSI | Closures, Testing

PSI exam vendor has extended their closure until at least April 30th.

Some testing centers are open with limited capacity in select states. Please see the State Activity section for state-specific testing details.

 

PSI | Closures, Testing

PSI exam vendor is closed until at least April 13.

How RegEd Can Help

The RegEd team and our solutions can help you keep your compliance and credentialing program running at the highest level during this uncertain time.


Regulatory Change Management

There are more than 5,000 insurance and securities regulatory changes each year…and now add the volume of COVID-19 related updates. Our Enterprise Regulatory Change Management solution delivers fully analyzed updates to your desktop and provides the most efficient means of managing the implementation of new requirements. Learn More

Branch Audit Management

Enterprise Branch Audits

RegEd’s Enterprise Branch Audit Management is the industry’s most fully featured and flexible onsite and remote branch audit solution. The solution includes the ability to efficiently conduct and manage virtual branch exams and ensure a closed-loop on any needed remediation. Learn More

Advertising Review

Advertising and Customer Communications Review

A more challenging macroeconomic environment may affect asset-based and advisory fees. Reps/advisors and their firms will focus on growing AUM, which will drive focused marketing efforts, increasing volume of marketing and communications, requiring swift compliance review to ensure timely release. Learn More

Annual Compliance Meeting On-Demand

As firms move to virtual self-study for their annual compliance meeting, RegEd can help with our Annual Compliance Meeting On-Demand, featuring a large course library and the ability to convert client content to online self-study courses. Learn More

Live CE

Live CE Program Management

As more states allow a webinar format for Live CE programs, RegEd is in step to support our clients. RegEd’s Live CE Program Management solution enables insurance companies to easily and efficiently host their live CE program via webinar. Learn More

Policies and Procedures Management

Rapidly evolving work models, unforeseen business continuity requirements and third party management needs will spawn massive changes to firms’ policies and procedures. RegEd’s Enterprise Policies and Procedures Management delivers a highly systematized process to manage the creation, approval, dissemination and attestation of new and updated corporate, BCP and regulatory-driven policies. Learn More

Employee Compliance and Conflicts of Interest

The pandemic and its longer-term impacts increase the potential for bad actors, making it critical to ensure employee compliance with the firm’s policies and regulations through strong, technology-enabled processes and oversight. RegEd’s Enterprise Employee Compliance and Conflicts of Interest solutions enable firms to fully manage requests and approvals associated with potential conflicts of interest. Learn More

Regulatory Change Management

Complaints Management

In this unprecedented circumstance, firms are receiving record numbers of customer inquiries and complaints. RegEd’s fit-for-purpose Enterprise Complaint Management solution can ease this burden, enabling precise and systematized management of complaints and inquiries, ensuring each loop is closed and helping to preserve and protect the firm’s reputation. Learn More

Policies and Procedures

Onboarding and Xchange for Call Centers

The world has gone “remote”, at least temporarily. Need to ramp up your call center with registered and/or licensed and appointed individuals? RegEd’s market-leading Enterprise Xchange Onboarding, Licensing and Registration technology and expert solutions professionals can help you develop a comprehensive program that speeds time to market for call center employees. Learn More

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