FINRA urged member firms to ensure that their business continuity plans ("BCPs") can address the various phases of a pandemic.
FINRA reminded member firms that FINRA Rule 4370 ("Business Continuity Plans and Emergency Contact Information") requires them to create, maintain and review procedures to address an emergency or significant business disruption. In an update to its 2009 Pandemic Preparedness Guidance, FINRA advised each member firm to:
- contact its assigned FINRA Risk Monitoring Analyst regarding the activation or implementation of its BCP;
- consider remote offices or telework arrangements for employees to mitigate the spread of pandemic;
- test the use of remote offices or telework arrangements prior to activating its BCP;
- prepare for heightened cybersecurity risks due to the increased computer use by remote employees, and heightened anxiety and confusion;
- attempt to provide written notification of emergency office locations to its FINRA Risk Monitoring Analysts;
- exercise diligence in confirming the identities of customers if customer calls are re-routed to another office;
- ensure that customers may access funds and securities in the event of a significant business disruption;
- provide FINRA with reliable emergency contacts;
- contact Risk Monitoring Analysts if extra time is required to open inquiries, investigations or upcoming filings; and
- request an extension from FINRA if anyone's qualifications examination is due to expire or continuing education window is due to close.
Additionally, FINRA informed member firms that it is temporarily suspending requirements to:
- update Form U4 information for registered persons who are temporarily relocated due to COVID-19; and
- submit branch office applications on Form BR for temporary office locations or space-sharing arrangements due to COVID-19.