The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently unveiled two programs on its website to help securities firms meet compliance and regulatory reporting requirements online. One of the products from the securities industry regulator is a suite of compliance applications called Firm Gateway that enables the 5,000-plus FINRA-registered firms to submit nearly every electronic regulatory form through the web, such as those required when a broker joins or leaves a firm and branch-office registration forms. Compliance staff also can easily check the status of filings and receive alerts to key regulatory changes

Firm Gateway features some of the most frequently-used regulatory applications, including the central registration depository (CRD), financial and operational combined uniform single reports (FOCUS), the order audit trail system (OATS) and the investment adviser registration depository (IARD).

It also features customizable links for one-click access to high-frequency tasks, lists of new rules and proposed rule changes, alerts highlighting critical assignments and events, and a consolidated "filing cabinet" to organize electronic forms. Firm Gateway is being rolled out in phases, and currently can be accessed by 6,600 individuals at 1,600 firms. When fully deployed during the coming weeks, Firm Gateway will be available to about 25,000 employees-typically compliance personnel-at all 5,000-plus FINRA-registered firms.

FINRA's other product is a series of free, instructional webcasts regarding compliance obligations when working with senior customers. The webcast, Suitability Considerations for Work with Seniors, is available at the on-line learning section at

The webcast addresses not just to working with seniors, but the vast number of boomers who are at, or near, retirement. A similar webcast aimed at firms' supervisory personnel and a formal online e-learning course addressing senior issues will be posted to FINRA's web site in coming weeks. FINRA webcasts are brief online tutorials available on-demand and take less than 10 minutes to view. Through FINRA's monthly report, training managers can view and download a list of employees at their firm who have registered for and viewed a FINRA webcast.

The new webcast's launch comes one month after FINRA announced two major regulatory sweeps intended to ensure that securities firms adhere to appropriate sales practices when dealing with seniors and individuals nearing retirement. The announcement was made at the Securities and Exchange Commission's second annual Seniors Summit.

The first sweep examines the use of so-called "professional" designations to possibly mislead or defraud investors. The second looks at early retirement seminars conducted by firms that are designed to entice older workers to liquidate retirement savings in employer-sponsored plans for investment with a specific firm or representative.

Since January 2005, FINRA has completed approximately 100 formal disciplinary actions involving or related to seniors. Currently, FINRA has about 70 open investigations that involve seniors or related issues.

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