Exam Alert: NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse cancel merger after EU ruling

On February 1, 2012, the European Commission blocked the merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse, two major exchanges, on the grounds that the combined entity would have a near-monopoly on the European derivatives market. On February 2, 2012, NYSE Euronext announced that, in light of the ruling, both companies have agreed to cancel the merger. Continue reading

On February 1, 2012, the European Commission blocked the merger of NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse, two major exchanges, on the grounds that the combined entity would have a near-monopoly on the European derivatives market.  On February 2, 2012, NYSE Euronext announced that, in light of the ruling, both companies have agreed to cancel the merger.

Sources: “EU blocks Deutsche Boerse/NYSE merger, cites near-monopoly”, “NYSE EURONEXT AND DEUTSCHE BOERSE TERMINATE BUSINESS COMBINATION AGREEMENT”

Prior related alert: “Exam Alert: NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse announce merger”

This alert applies to the Series 79, Series 62, Series 24, Series 99, Series 7, Series 65, and Series 66.

Exam Alert: FINRA recommends heightened supervision for complex products

On January 17, 2012, FINRA highlighted the need for firms to have adequate supervisory and compliance programs in place in order for registered representatives to recommend complex products. FINRA identified several characteristics that may cause a product to be considered “complex,” such as embedded derivatives or contingencies. The notice states that agents should determine suitability, consider the customer’s financial sophistication, discuss the products with the customer, and consider alternative investments that could meet the customer’s goals. The firm should also review the performance of the products and train the agents about the products. Continue reading

On January 17, 2012, FINRA highlighted the need for firms to have adequate supervisory and compliance programs in place in order for registered representatives to recommend complex products.  FINRA identified several characteristics that may cause a product to be considered “complex,” such as embedded derivatives or contingencies.  The notice states that agents should determine suitability, consider the customer’s financial sophistication, discuss the products with the customer, and consider alternative investments that could meet the customer’s goals.  The firm should also review the performance of the products and train the agents about the products.

Source: FINRA Regulatory Notice 12-03

This alert applies to the Series 6, Series 7, Series 24, Series 26, Series 55, Series 62, Series 79, Series 82, Series 99, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 66.

Exam Alert: New passing score for the Series 99 is 68%

First off, congratulations to all of our students who have passed the Series 99: FINRA Operations Professional Exam! We know many of you were anxious about this brand new exam Continue reading

First off, congratulations to all of our students who have passed the Series 99: FINRA Operations Professional Exam! We know many of you were anxious about this brand new exam (and brand new experience with standardized testing for many of you). But your hard work paid off, so well done!

As our students let us know they’ve passed, they’ve also told us that the current passing score for the Series 99 is 68%. Don’t let that low score fool you – this exam will still require hard work and diligent studying to pass. We continue to monitor this brand new exam and will keep you updated to any changes to the passing score or to the exam. Be sure to subscribe to our Blog and regularly check our Exam FAQs and Exam Updates pages to keep current with exam information!

Take advantage of our NEW reduced prices for our Series 99 products!

Blame the eggnog or perhaps it’s just the holiday spirit, but we have recently reduced our prices for our Series 99 Operations Professional Exam study materials! Continue reading

Blame the eggnog or perhaps it’s just the holiday spirit, but we have recently reduced our prices for our Series 99 Operations Professional Exam study materials! This Bernie Madoff-inspired exam was designed to encourage accountability amongst back office professionals. We currently offer a class and online exam simulator to help you with all your study needs. Our class price has been reduced to $139.95 and our online exam simulator is a steal at $69.95. If you purchase the Basic Package, you will save an extra 10% off the total price!

For more information about our Series 99 products, please click here.

Exam Alert: SEC gives guidance on cyber attack threat disclosure

On October 13, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued new guidelines that clarify the application of existing disclosure rules. Specifically, the SEC has identified cyber attack incidents, along with the risk of cyber attacks, as material information that must be disclosed to investors. Continue reading

On October 13, 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued new guidelines that clarify the application of existing disclosure rules.  Specifically, the SEC has identified cyber attack incidents, along with the risk of cyber attacks, as material information that must be disclosed to investors.

Source: CF Disclosure Guidance: Topic No. 2

Further reading: “SEC tells companies to disclose cyber attacks”

This alert applies to the Series 24, 26, 55, 6, 62, 63, 65, 66, 79, 82, 99, and 7.

Exam Alert: Delayed results for new Series 99 exam candidates

FINRA announced last week that if you take the Series 99 within the first 60 days of October 17, 2011, your exam result will not be Continue reading

FINRA announced last week that if you take the Series 99 within the first 60 days of October 17, 2011, your exam result will not be provided to you the day of the test.  Instead, candidates will be notified of their results on or shortly after December 16, 2011.  This delay is to give FINRA a chance to review the effectiveness of the exam, which will include analyzing candidates’ performance during this initial period.  Those who fail the exam during this initial 60 days will be allowed to re-take the exam at no additional charge.

Find more details about the Series 99 exam from FINRA by clicking here.

Exam Alert: The Series 99 Outline is Up!

FINRA recently posted the outline for the new Series 99 Operations Professionals Exam. The Madoff-inspired test is meant to ensure that Continue reading

FINRA recently posted the outline for the new Series 99 Operations Professionals Exam.  The Madoff-inspired test is meant to ensure that operations professionals understand the fundamentals of the operations and regulations of a broker-dealer’s business.  Click here to see the official outline.

What will be tested on the exam?

This exam will be three hours and consist of 110 questions (10 unscored) focusing on the following three topics:

Basic knowledge associated with the securities industry – basic questions about SROs, types of markets, types and characteristics of securities, broker-dealers versus investment advisers, suitability, and types of broker-dealers

Basic knowledge associated with broker-dealer operations – basic questions about types of accounts, maintenance of accounts, custody, anti-money laundering, margin, short sales, settlement, tax-reporting, and record-keeping

Professional conduct and ethical considerations – questions on FINRA conduct rules involving privacy, complaints, information barriers, written supervisory procedures, and registration

The test will be more heavily weighted toward the second category with 48 questions on broker-dealer operations.  Securities industry knowledge is the second most important topic with 32 questions and the remaining 20 questions will be comprised of conduct and ethics.  FINRA has yet to release the score that will be required to pass.

How difficult is the exam? 

The exam outline contains 30 practice questions that represent the level of difficulty of the exam questions.  Based on these sample questions the exam appears to be comparable to the Series 6 exam.

Who will have to take the exam? 

Day One Professionals – Individuals who currently work as operations supervisors or operations managers or individuals who currently have the authority to materially commit capital in various back office functions.  These individuals must be identified by December 16, 2011 and must register within 60 days of being identified.  Those registered individuals will then have until October 17, 2012 to pass the Series 99 or a comparable exam such as the Series 6 or Series 7.

Non-Day One Professionals – Individuals who are not currently working in back-office activities, but plan to in the future.  These individuals must pass the Series 99 or a comparable exam before engaging in back-office activities.  They are not subject to the 12-month transition period.

Individuals who hold the following Series Exams will be exempt from taking the Operations Professionals Exam:  Series 4, 6, 7, 9/10, 14, 16, 17, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 37, 38, 51, and 52.

FINRA Alert: New rules for social media and personal device use for business purposes

Since FINRA first released rules regarding these issues back in 2010, many in the finance industry have raised questions and concerns over their abilities Continue reading

Since FINRA first released rules regarding these issues back in 2010, many in the finance industry have raised questions and concerns over their abilities to comply with these rules while keeping up with explosion of social media.  Last week, FINRA responded to these concerns by releasing several guidelines clarifying rules surrounding use of social media websites and personal devices for business purposes.  For example, some of the guidelines included the following:

  • If an individual posts a statement on Twitter on behalf of the firm, that will likely constitute an interactive statement and not require prior approval by a firm’s registered principal.  However, if that statement is then posted on a blog, becoming a static statement (and therefore an advertisement), prior approval is necessary.
  • Whether a statement is interactive or static, recordkeeping rules still apply.  This means that individuals and/or firms may not use social media sites or devices that automatically delete any posts.
  • Individuals may respond to third-party business-related posts on their personal social media site without violating FINRA guidelines.  However, responses must conform to firms’ individual policies regarding these types of posts.
  • As long as firms are able to keep records and supervise activity, individuals may use their own personal devices (e.g. a smart phone or a tablet) to conduct business and access business applications.  Something to keep in mind when using a personal device to conduct business: firms are allowed to supervise all communications made on personal devices, including personal communications, if the device is ever used for business purposes.

These are just a sampling of issues the recent FINRA Regulatory Notice addressed.  Please click here to review the full notice.