NASD today introduced a new series of free, on-demand video webcasts for compliance professionals that's aimed at taking the mystery out of key regulatory processes and making firms' interactions with NASD more productive and efficient.
The first installment of the new What to Expect series focuses on what firms can expect before, during and after an NASD examination and offers practical tips for making the process go smoothly. While all NASD-registered firms can benefit from viewing this webcast, What to Expect: Preparing for an NASD Routine Exam will be of particular interest to firms on a four-year examination cycle whose examinations are coming up, given significant changes in the regulatory environment in recent years. Of the more than 5,100 securities firms registered with NASD, approximately 3,000 are classified as low-risk and are on a four-year examination cycle. About 800 low-risk firms undergo routine NASD examinations each year.
"NASD, other regulators and Congress have responded to the scandals and excess of the post-bubble period with new rulemaking and broader efforts to protect investors and ensure market integrity," said NASD Vice Chairman Mary Schapiro. "For securities firms, that has meant more rigorous - and broader - examinations and regulatory inquiries.
"At NASD, we have increased our focus on supporting firms' compliance efforts through a number of programs, including this webcast series," Schapiro said. "We want to inform firms, in plain English, about what NASD expects from them, and what they can expect from us. To achieve the goals of investor protection and market integrity, it's crucial that firms be knowledgeable about their obligations and compliant with NASD and SEC rules - and we are committed to helping them do that."
Over the next year, NASD will fill out the series with installments focusing on enforcement investigations, U4/U5 disclosures, written supervisory procedures, advertising reviews, the handling of customer complaints and corporate finance filings. To expand the series' reach, each installment will be accompanied by an informational guide and will also be offered as an audio-only podcast.
This new series joins a popular series of issue-specific webcasts that deliver priority compliance information to registered firms' frontline personnel. Those webcasts - which address such "hot" compliance topics as anti-money laundering, annuities sales practices, bond sales, new product suitability considerations, 529 College Savings Plan sales, fee-based brokerage accounts, mutual fund share classes and breakpoint discounts and customer data protection - have been viewed by more than 146,000 users since the series was launched in early 2005.
NASD also offers more formal compliance courses on its E-Learning Exchange, which debuted in mid-2005. Nearly 900 firms have licensed e-learning compliance courses for more than 111,000 employees.
Earlier this year, NASD introduced free podcasts that highlight industry news, regulatory updates and hot compliance topics. Users can listen online or download to a portable digital media player or computer. Users can also sign up for a free subscription to receive new podcasts automatically.