FINRA’s 2018 Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter

By: Esmat Hanano, IAC Intern Spring 2018

At the start of the year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) releases its annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter (“Letter”). The Letter operates as a list of goals for member firms and FINRA itself to aspire to in the coming year. Specifically, FINRA hopes that member firms will use the Letter to “. . . enhance their compliance, supervisory, and risk management programs, and to prepare for their FINRA examination.” Accordingly, FINRA highlights the topics that it thinks will be of critical importance as the new year begins.

As part of every Letter, FINRA’s President and CEO writes an introduction that sets forth a vision for what the organization hopes to accomplish in the new year. This year’s introduction incorporates two themes: continuity and change. FINRA CEO Robert Cook writes that 2018 will see FINRA continue its work in protecting investors while also changing how that mission is accomplished by improving a number of different functions.

This is the first post in a five-part series of blog posts that will detail the Letter and its various components. The topics covered in the subsequent blog posts will be focused on operational and financial risks, sales practice risks, and the new rules that will take effect this year. These three topics represent the most pertinent subjects for retail investors to know in the new year when it comes to the securities market. In the Investor Advocacy Clinic, we use the Letter to help guide our work throughout the year, and an understanding of FINRA’s goals for the new year will help investors navigate the securities market.