Wednesday, May 27, 2009

my current Sales Practices Manual tells me I am not to be engaged in blogging activity

I have never used this or any other blog for professional purposes.

That being said,  I am aware, as of today, that, for considerations relating to my registrations with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA),  I am not to be engaged in blogging activity. Therefore, this is my last blog post; here’s the proximate rule, the one that most closely affects me:

Prohibited Activities
The below list is not intended to be inclusive of all of the instances in which the Firm will prohibit a communication with the public; rather it is intended to demonstrate some of the most common types of communications that are not approved. . . .
. . . Blogs: Interactive electronic forums such as blogs subject a member firm to various supervision and record keeping requirements. As such, no employee or affiliated person with the Firm may participate in blogs or other similar interactive electronic communications such as chat rooms.
WSP Online: Current Manual

And another, less proximate:

Electronic Chat Rooms, Blogs and Bulletin Boards
The fact that an individual is registered subjects him/her to a higher standard than members of the general public. Given the fast-paced environment of chat rooms, blogs and bulletin boards, casual or off-handed statements have the potential of crossing the line between being a reasonable opinion and an exaggerated or unwarranted claim. Because of the difficulties of supervision and the potential liabilities from participating in these forums, many firms limit or prohibit participation altogether.
Chat room participation by RRs is considered a public appearance. Therefore, RRs must follow the same requirements for participating in a chat room that they would if they were speaking in person before a group of investors. There are no filing requirements, but RRs are accountable under FINRA Conduct Rules and the federal securities laws for what they say regarding securities or services. Also, member firms are responsible for supervising the business-related activities of RRs including chat room participation. Remember, these rules apply regardless of whether an RR is in the office at home or a public computer.
In general, blogs and bulletin boards are considered advertisements and as such, all the content standards apply. Depending on the subject matter, firms may need to file these postings with FINRA.
RRs who are considering hosting a bulletin board, blog or chat room should contact their compliance department to determine whether such activities are permitted and what procedures may apply. Member firms must supervise the operation of any securities-related blog, bulletin board or chat room hosted by an RR or by the firm itself to ensure compliance with FINRA Conduct Rules and the federal securities laws. For example, a member firm may limit when commenters can post new messages to times when such messages can be monitored. A member firm may also require commenters to register and agree to abide by the terms of the Web site, including limitations on content.

4 comments:

  1. well that 's sad! you've had your blog for ages!

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  2. More face-to-face unrehearsed sessions, channeling through others, construction of a "community dashboard" with dissidents from the West. Follow the progress over at gloriaferris.net. Marc Canter is coming to town soon. George Nemeth will assist. Gloria's bringing in the remainders of I-Open and the Women's Enterprise network, in her own inimitable way.

    I also have to get back to work building a new, open-source practice; I haven't worked seriously at my profession since 2005, and now it's time for the transformation. I've learned a lot about new structures, and now it's time to wire up and connect a client base.

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  3. I know nothing of finance but at first glance I rationalized why this might be - I'm sure they're concerned with the leakage of some sort of (somewhat) important financial information.

    That changed when I came across this line though - "in blogs or other similar interactive electronic communications such as chat rooms."

    Seems to me like another example of heavy handed regulation by someone who is probably out of touch with the technology itself. Seems to me like that line actually forbids you from using -any- chat room ever. What if it's got nothing to do with finance at all? Are you not allowed to start a blog about fly-fishing if that were something you were into? Whatever the case, I'm sure the benefits of this organization far outweigh the benefits of your blog though, so I sympathize.

    Glad to see you'll still have your fingers in the i-pie, though.

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