Wednesday’s Word: Comment Letter

By Geoff Hafer, fall 2016 student intern

Have you ever questioned some of the rules sweeping over the US securities industry?  Perhaps thought to yourself, “Well if they just rephrased this or added that…”  So do something about it!  Fortunately our friends at FINRA encourage member firms and other interested parties to submit comment letters on proposed rules or areas of regulatory interest.

Typically, once an idea for a possible rule proposal is identified, the FINRA subject-matter experts research and develop it and then present it to FINRA management for review.  From there, the proposal is reviewed by various FINRA committees and then presented to the Small Firm Advisory Board.  Once this review is complete, FINRA issues a Regulatory Notice soliciting comment on the rule proposal.

This is your time to shine!  Once complete, you can submit your comment by hard copy or electronically.  For more information on submitting comments click here.  Best yet, all comments become part of the rule proposal’s “official record” and are posted directly to FINRA’s web site.  Your thoughts and suggestions are now available for all interested parties to see!  For examples from the Investor Advocacy Clinic at the Georgia State College of Law see http://www.finra.org/industry/notices/15-37 and http://www.finra.org/industry/notices/14-35.

After reviewing the comments, FINRA will either scrap, revise or file the proposed rule with the SEC.  Should the proposed rule go to the SEC, the next step in the rule process is to publish the proposal for comment, once again, in the Federal Register.  The comment period for this step in the process is only 21 days following the publication date, so if you are late to the game you best get moving!  Get involved in the rulemaking process and let your voice be heard.  Remember, rule proposals can and have changed as a result of well-constructed comments.