As part of our podcast series talking about FINRA’s 2023 Exam Priorities, in this episode of our Oyster Stew Podcast, our experts share best practices and what we are hearing from our clients and the industry at large on Reg BI (Regulation Best Interest under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934), Sales and Communications.    

Reg BI affects every product recommendation a broker-dealer is going to make to its customers. Putting the policies into place is only the start – are they being enforced? Does suitability apply to your clients? What about reasonable available alternatives – how are you monitoring and documenting what is being recommended? Listen as our experts share what they are seeing and recommending around Reg BI.

With the proliferation of texts, instant messaging and other personal and mass communication methods, hear how firms are working to supervise how their representatives are communicating with the public from training to disclosing and archiving.


Transcript provided by TEMI

Libby Hall:  Welcome to the Oyster Stew Podcast. I am Libby Hall, Director of Communications for Oyster Consulting. As part of our podcast series talking about FINRA’s 2023 exam priorities, today our experts share best practices and what we’re hearing from our clients in the industry at large on Reg BI, sales, and communications. With me today are our host, Bob Mooney, and experts Casey Dougherty, Evan Rosser, and Joe Sisti. Let’s get started. Bob,

Bob Mooney:  My name is Bob Mooney. I’m the General Counsel of Oyster Consulting, and I’m the host for today’s podcast. Joining me today are three experts from Oyster’s Governance, Risk and Compliance Practice Group, Evan Rosser, Joe Sisti, and Casey Dougherty. Good afternoon, gentlemen.

Evan Rosser:  Good afternoon. Hello, Bob. How are you doing, Bob?

Bob Mooney:  Terrific. Evan, and let me start with you. The report covers a lot of ground. Given the FINRA priorities and what you are seeing with working with your clients and current enforcement trends, what would your recommendations be for affirmative focus in 2023?

Evan Rosser:  Well, I think part of the reason FINRA puts out their exam priorities, as well as guidance from the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission), is to tell the members and the broker dealers what the regulators will be focusing on. And that in turn means that perhaps you should be focusing on it.  And they’re usually going to focus on new regulations. And while Reg BI isn’t exactly new, it’s a couple years, over two years old now, I still think people are getting their arms around it. And the biggest issue that I’ve seen with some clients around Reg BI is they have treated it as if it’s a one and done.  They did it back in June 20, and now they don’t have to go back and revisit that. And that’s certainly not the case, and the same is true as for Form CRS, as well. So I think that’s important that firms know that they need to review their Reg BI disclosures. There are a lot of other issues coming up, communication, social media, texting, and they’ll be around, as they have been for years. But I think Reg BI might be near the top because it really affects every recommendation, every product, that a broker dealer is going to recommend to its customers.

Joe Sisti:  Hey, Evan. This is Joseph. I think it’s important to look at this in a broad perspective as well. When it comes to Reg BI, I think it’s really hard for compliance professionals living through their day-to-day to see the forest through the trees. And you’re dealing with an 800-page rule, almost an 800-page rule.  So it literally is a forest.  It was implemented right during the middle of a pandemic where people were learning how to live and work in a different environment. So two and a half years later, we have some enforcement actions, and we have some guidance, but our answer is likely different depending on which firm we’re helping.  We’ve worked with dozens of firms so far in helping them implement the rule. We’ve also done reviews and assessments on their Reg BI programs and made recommendations about how they can enhance it. So depending on how far you’ve gotten with your program, how you’ve developed it, I think our answer to what they should look for would be different firm by firm.

However, FINRA’s done a great job of giving their priorities, talking about enforcement actions, and talking about ways that firms can address it. And if I had to pick one, I probably would look at supervisory principles and how supervisory principles are ensuring that their associates are complying with the rule. They’ve put in training, they’ve put in forms and worksheets in many regards to help people with the care obligation and making recommendations to compliance. But two and a half years out, have they enforced them? Are people doing that? Can they demonstrate compliance? And we found through branch examinations that we’ve done in support of our clients and other means, that documentation hasn’t been the best at a lot of broker dealers we support.

Casey Dougherty:  Yeah. This is Casey. To add on to that, I would suggest what I think are really key on the enforcement trends. It’s like, what are we seeing here? And I think that FINRA starting out at the gate was a lot more pointed than a lot of folks expected.  They’ve come in and they’ve been hypersensitive around the Form CRS formatting.  We’ve seen a lot of sensitivity around reasonably available alternatives. I think we’ve coached some clients as well around red flags that FINRA’s likely to look for. If you use the word suitable or suitability inside your written supervisory procedures or policy manual, I think that becomes a red flag for FINRA. It’s not all gone, but I think they’re looking for evidence that you haven’t updated your documentation to really conform with what they think now should be a well implemented rule at your firm.

Joe Sisti:  You know, think about conflicts of interest, and think about putting together a list of your conflicts and the ways that you try to mitigate or eliminate them. You can’t do that once. That’s something that you have to revisit. So, has your firm or your team, excuse me, had a conflicts of interest committee put together what reviews that detail so that you can make sure that what’s on your Form CRS is accurate and continues to be, as your clients look at that information on a regular basis?

Bob Mooney:  So, Casey, you mentioned suitability, and since the effective date of Reg BI, we’ve seen relatively few suitability matters. Can you talk a little bit about what type of activity is outside of the scope of Reg BI that is still covered by suitability?

Casey Dougherty:  Sure. Yeah Bob, as I referenced, it’s mostly gone, but not entirely.  As folks will probably recall, Reg BI is really for retail investors. The key there, they underline is this retail. So what that means is this whole large group of institutional investors are still subject to what I’m going to call the legacy rules, although they’re still current, related to institutional clients. So one of the things you can do, and really should be doing at your firm, is parsing out your client base into two sections. The retail clients, which for many of our clients, is the majority of their practice.  But we also have a good set of clients who work in the pension space, in the institutional space. And for those clients, suitability is still the name of the game.

Evan Rosser:  I agree with, with what Casey said. I have seen suitability still referenced in procedures, and I’ve said that’s not the standard anymore except for institutional non-retail accounts. And that’s important. I mean, you have to remember, Reg BI is intended to bring the broker dealer sales staff close to the fiduciary standard of an IA while still preserving the broker dealer model. So there is a difference, a significant difference, between suitability and best interest. And it’s really important for firms to understand that.  There are components to best interest that do not exist under the old suitability rule, which, by the way, 21-11 is still in the books. It just applies to institutional and non-retail accounts. So it’s very important that firms recognize the difference. This isn’t just a change in terminology or language. This is a significant difference.

Joe Sisti:  Yeah. For most firms though, we’re really talking about that fundamental change in the way regulators look at the relationship between associated persons and their retail clients. And that really has been a focus through FINRA’s priority detail with regards to communication and sales. When you look at what they’re focusing on, the retail event, investor is front and center.  And I think that really has to be a priority for firms looking at FINRA priorities and enhancing their overall compliance program.

Bob Mooney:  I think all three of you touched on the fact that suitability had been in the industry for decades, and firms had developed a number of processes, supervisory oversight technology to help them satisfy the suitability obligations. With Reg BI now coming up on its third anniversary, what aspects of the new reg do you see firms still struggling with?

Joe Sisti:  I’ll jump in.  I think the key thing is actually investment advice and making recommendations to clients on products, on investment strategies, and on account types.  When it comes to products, reasonable available alternatives come up, a focus on cost comes up, and firms can say that their associated persons have to pay attention to that when they’re making recommendations. But what tools are they giving them to do it?  Have they created worksheets?  Have they created checklists that help them do that? Are they documenting it?  And if they can’t demonstrate that, then I think the regulators are going to look at that and look at your firm and say, those are areas where you might be able to enhance your program.

Casey Dougherty:  Joe.  Now you mentioned reasonably available alternatives. And this is something I’ve actually struggled with in recommending to clients. Clients will come to me and say, Casey, all right, how big is a big enough product shelf? And with lack of a lot of enforcement action so far from FINRA, it’s a little tough to say. What I’ve given advice on is that they need to have a structured approach to it. They need to be very intentional so that people aren’t all over the map. But I’m curious from you, Evan, and Joe, what are your thoughts? I mean, how are you guiding clients in regard to reasonably available alternatives?

Evan Rosser:  Well, that is a difficult question for firms, and they do ask that question, how far do I have to look? And the SEC, because it’s their rule.  FINRA may enforce it, but it’s the SEC’s rule.

They have stated that you don’t need to go out to the universe. However, you do need to know what you’re offering people and have, if your shelf is limited, you need to disclose that to people. If there are only certain things that you can sell, you need to disclose that. One example, I think, and this not only is kind of a shelf question, but it’s also a question around the difference between suitability and best interest. It might be suitable for a customer to take their cash held in their brokerage account and have them invest it in either a bank cash program or a money market program. That would certainly seem to be suitable. However, now you must make sure that is in the best interest of the client. And if you have more than one cash sweep program, it needs to be one that is in the best interest of the client.

And I know firms will put that cash customers cash in the sweep program that pays the firm the most money, that is no longer a problem. Now, under the old 22-11, that might have been all right because it was a suitable program. However, now under best interest, you’ve got to have the one that is best for the client, not best for the firm. So, that’s an interest, a big gap I’ve seen in some firms. I think another one is not really understanding the trigger for when the Reg BI disclosures must be provided to the customer or prospective customer, unlike the Form CRS, and this was a topic the SEC brought out in their guidance. The Reg BI is triggered by a recommendation, when a rep makes a recommendation to a customer.

And you get questions about what about the golf course and what about the cocktail party? Well, first of all, I tell firms maybe they shouldn’t be doing that. You shouldn’t be making recommendations on the golf course or at a cocktail party.

Casey Dougherty:  Evan, you were upsetting. You were upsetting years of practice. I don’t know where you’re going with this. This is the cocktail parties, the golf course. This is where business is done.

Well, that’s okay if it’s an existing client, and it’s okay to tell someone on the golf course. You know what, maybe you should come to my office. We can talk about some things that we can do for you. Some of the different services we offer, some of the different programs.  That’s all right. That’s not a recommendation. But firms have difficulty with that. And not surprisingly, because they’re not going to know when those kinds of things are said, but they need to let their sales reps know what they can and cannot say. And if they do make a recommendation, how they document delivery of the disclosures.

Bob Mooney:  So recently, the SEC published from the Division of Examinations, their observations on Reg BI.  Are the regulators giving us consistent guidance here, or focus?

Casey Dougherty:  I think that there is something that’s a bit more expansive in regard to what the SEC is looking at. I think the SEC emphasized, for instance, dually registered individuals and firms, the idea that if somebody has the ability to recommend an advisory program or an annuity or a mutual fund on the commission side, that the variety of accounts or a brokerage account, it’s like, what are firms doing? What are financial professionals doing to make sure that the recommendation of account type is in the best interest of the client. I think this relates, in some ways, to the reasonably available alternatives. There’s an overall cost sensitivity to it, but the SEC clearly has that type of item in its crosshairs. So if you are a firm that holds yourself out as being holistic and that you offer advisory services and commission-based products and brokerage windows and all the above, uh, realize the SEC is looking at that, they’re sensitive to that issue.

Bob Mooney:  You know, we frequently mentioned Reg BI and CRS in the same breath.  Can y’all discuss the difference between the two, and how frequently should firms be reviewing the form CRS?

Evan Rosser:  Well, for one thing, the CRS may only be two pages. Unlike Reg BI disclosures, which can be 10 times that long easily. And it’s important to remember if you have retail customers as a broker dealer, you must have a Form CRS. If you make recommendations to a customer, you must have Reg BI disclosures. I’ve worked with firms who do not have retail customers and they do not make recommendations, and they have neither.  Although I have to remind them, you can’t make recommendations, be careful because you don’t have a Reg BI disclosure.  And as far as updating them, and the triggers of course, are different as well. As I said, the CRS is delivered at or about the time the account is opened, whereas the Reg BI is delivered when and if a recommendation is made.

And the other issue, I think, it’s important for firms to realize if they have new products on their platform, if they have new compensation arrangements, if they have new non-cash, or compensation or benefits, any of those changes, you will need to review both those documents to see if they need to be updated.

Casey Dougherty:  And Evan, I think you referenced earlier the idea that you’ve seen a lot of people that really thought of this rule as one and done. And I like to advise clients to look at this probably well, at least annually.  And when the exam priorities come out, it seems like a great time to start looking at things like this. But what I’m also talking to clients about is the difference between Form CRS and Reg BI, well, CRS, of course, applies not only to broker dealers, but to RIAs.  You need to give this disclosure about the services you provide. This document is intended to really put all these firms on a level playing field so that clients or prospects can, in a readily recognizable format, compare one firm versus another. But then when I pivot into Reg BI, I think, well, that’s a broker dealer rule. That’s something else that’s outside of the advisory world entirely. Joe, would you have anything else to add on that?

Joe Sisti:  No, I think you guys have covered it well.

Bob Mooney:  The report talks about variable annuities. Um, we all know variable annuities are always under the microscope from our regulators.  Some of the findings were, you could probably read back the exam priorities for the last 10 years, failure to supervise exchanges, insufficient training for an insufficient data quality supporting exchanges. But this year’s exam priorities talked about failure to consider reasonably available alternatives. I know we touched on that briefly earlier but like to hear your perspectives on satisfying the care obligation with respect to reasonably available alternatives, specifically, variable annuities.

Joe Sisti:  Well, the variable annuity space is interesting, and firms typically have heightened scrutiny in that regard.  When it comes to Reg BI and the care obligation, I think you really need to, and I think you really need to consider, those products, any complex product, high risk product with regards to potential concentration guidelines that you may have for your clients potential liquid net worth requirements that you may have for them.  We’ve seen supervisory principals have higher standards with regards to VA exchanges and require specific approvals for those actions.  Those are some of the things that you can do. And obviously, there are many others, but those are some of the things that the regulators are focusing on for sure.

Casey Dougherty:   Yeah. When I look at these things, I think that getting back to the fundamentals of FINRA 23-30.  VAs have been a forefront of thinner priorities for probably as long as I’ve been in the business. I think that the common thought is while these things are super expensive, the only reason anybody would ever sell these is because you’re going to make more money doing this than you might with an equivalent mutual fund or something else.  So, especially with Reg BI’s emphasis on cost and expense, I think it’s critical to document the specific needs of a client for that type of product versus something like a mutual fund or an ETF or advisory account. So document tax deferral or the need for the systematic rebalancing that comes along with the VA or the particular riders.

Evan Rosser:  If you don’t have that documentation, then I don’t think you’re going to survive your Reg BI analysis of best interest. Yeah, if you recommend a replacement transaction or a switch that is governed by Reg BI, that is a recommendation. And when you consider reasonably all available alternatives, and Casey, you touched on this, that alternative might be outside that asset class.  Variables, as Bob said, are always under scrutiny because of their fee structure, because of their insurance component. For example, if you are selling VAs, a tax deferred product to a tax-deferred account, which I know firms do, you might need now to say why that is in the best interest of a client to sell a tax-deferred product to a tax-deferred account.  if you, and I think that’s similar now with a host of alternative investments, the rule says you do not.

And I think the practice has been, you do not need to document the basis of every recommendation. However, when you are recommending an illiquid alternative product, when you’re recommending a tax deferred product to a tax deferred account, when you’re recommending something that may appear to be outside the general needs of the customer, then I would really recommend that you document the basis for that recommendation.

Casey Dougherty:  I agree with you, Evan. I think when looking at this, just to piggyback on this briefly, there’s this regulatory regime, it feels like where as long as you are recommending the product that was cheapest, in retrospect with perfect hindsight, then everything’s great. You don’t need a lot of documentation. But if you’re going to recommend something that’s not the cheapest or is a little more complex or anything else, then it really seems beholden to the firms and the financial professionals to create some documentation that, first of all, they probably considered the cheapest, and then they rejected it because there were specific attributes of something that was more expensive that was in the best interest of the client.

Bob Mooney:  So, following up on this line of discussion, the exam priority also discusses private placements, and it points out that even if a private placement passes the reasonable basis test that it’s appropriate for at least some customers, a broker dealer could violate the reasonable basis portion of Reg BI’s care obligation if the broker dealer doesn’t understand the security. What types of policies or procedures should firms consider when offering complex or high-cost products to retail clients?

Casey Dougherty:  From my perspective, I think, as you pointed out, Bob, training, the firm, the financial professional that’s selling the product needs to fully understand it. I think prior to Reg BI I would’ve told firms, look, if you come in here and it seems to pass the smell test, you’re probably good enough at this point. It’s under a best interest standard. I think you need to demonstrate why that private product or that that complex product is objectively better than a publicly traded, freely traded alternative of some sort, something that’s a little less complex.  So, I think firms need to augment their due diligence functions. I think that ideally I would look for them to, as part of that due diligence function, articulate and document where that particular product fits a niche where it’s not just competitive, but actually probably better than a publicly traded alternative, that’s what I’d recommend to firms today, that we’re creating due diligence programs around private placements.

Evan Rosser:  Yeah, private placements, again, are always going to be under scrutiny by the regulators. And it’s not enough anymore to say, for a private placement, for example, the customer wanted a higher return.  That doesn’t really wash anymore. In the world of Reg BI.  In many cases, these are illiquid products. There’s no place to sell them. They’re often speculative. And if your rationale is simply the return offered by a private placement, can you get that return somewhere else without the illiquidity, without the speculative nature, because a lot of clients would just as easily take a little less for that liquidity, for that less speculative investment. And I would also recommend to firms while Reg BI allows a certain layering of disclosures, meaning you can refer to other disclosures that are in other documents, I would not recommend that you address illiquidity or speculative nature of an investment by referring them to an offering document or a private placement memo. I think you need to do that. It’s important that you deliver that because that’s got to be part of your determination.

Bob Mooney:  So Joe, that’s something I wanted to talk about. I noticed a number of the observations that FINRA had, with respect to Reg BI, and other aspects of its priorities really focused on training, documentation of supervision, and what I would consider the institutionalization of the controls around Reg BI and Form CRS and the new expectations. I’d love to get your perspective on where firms are with catching up on the detail side.  Of being able to demonstrate that they have an effective set of controls around Reg BI and Form CRS.

Joe Sisti:  Yeah, for firms that are smaller, I think the tools that they use may be an issue. Obviously CRMs are out there, and many firms are using them, but are they using them to comply with Reg BI? That’s been a little bit all over the place.  With the firms that I’ve worked with, I think that supervisory principles have to create structure around their approach to managing the care obligation. So the focus originally was, well, how do we do this? How do we identify reasonable available alternatives? How do we provide the right product sweep? How do we train our folks to look at this stuff? And often they didn’t provide them tools to do it.  I would say over the last couple of years, the tools are becoming more and more available from applications that manage and review, reveal reasonable available alternatives and give you technical responses to that question, to handwritten worksheets that folks can use.

That’s phase two. The third phase is, okay, how do we know that that’s happening? And I think that that’s just a slow process. We’re really only a few years in here, and the fines drive the focus, right? I think the enforcement actions drive where people pay attention.  So I think this priority list gives some of that detail.  But I think every firm is going to look at that priority list and focus their attention differently. There are a number of different ways you can go. I would say supervisory principle review is critical, and I would say ensure you have the resources in that space to be able to do it. Typically, that is the barrier. That’s the largest is having the hours, the man hours, and time to focus on that as well as run and manage your business.

Bob Mooney:  Another topic in the priority seems to be a recidivist topic, which is ensuring that your registered representatives only use the approved communication channels. You’ve seen a number of large fines over the last year of firms struggling with this. Maybe you all can talk about what you’re seeing with your clients and how firms are wrestling with ensuring that, with the proliferation of texts and instant messaging and other communication methods, that they’re able to supervise how their representatives are communicating with the public.

Joe Sisti:  Yeah, I would say I’ve done a significant number of branch reviews over the last couple of years. And I’ve seen firms try and use the branch review process and the response to a couple of simple questions to cover themselves from the perspective of using digital communication or texting. I think it’s pretty fair to assume that in this modern age, that customers do, in fact, text their representatives from time to time. And I think that the practice has to be to use the appropriate communication means, whether that be picking up the phone and speaking to the client or using appropriate email because the fines are clear.  I think they’ll continue, I think they will get larger as we go forward.  And failure to adhere to those rules could be costly.

Casey Dougherty:  Yeah, a text message, an instant message, an email, a letter – They’re written communications and subject to FINRA’s rules regarding written communications. You need appropriate disclosure. You need to archive those. You need to make sure that firms have an ability to capture and assure if it’s taking place outside of their purview, so they can supervise it. They need to supervise those communications. And the biggest challenge that I see, is that sometimes technology seems to progress so much faster than compliance’s ability to pragmatically capture and supervise some of these things. So I tell my clients, when FINRA comes in and talks about a culture of compliance, when they talk about the importance in compliance, compliance needs a seat at the table, they need to be taken seriously at an executive level.  I don’t know how you can function as a firm adequately right now if compliance doesn’t have a seat.

Evan Rosser:  Well, the one thing about the SEC cases that they have noted is that simply prohibiting texts, prohibiting texting is not a solution. I’ve been speaking to a firm, and they prohibit it.  By their own admission, they recognize it’s impossible to monitor that. So you just can’t wash your hands at the issue by saying, we prohibit that activity. It’s a challenge because clients, your customers will text you. Is it a business text if a client’s or customer’s coming downtown to meet at the office and they want to know where they can park?  I mean, <laugh>, I don’t know if that’s a business communication. They didn’t initiate it. And I know it’s expensive to capture texting for small firms, so there’s no easy answer.  I think at an absolute minimum, you have to say you cannot conduct any firm business through text. There are going to be one-off texts, as I said, about appointments and non-business issues with customers. However, absolutely, there should be no recommendations, no analysis, no review of accounts, none of that should be done through text. If you can afford it, you ought to just capture it.  You can do it. It’s not a challenge anymore to capture text. Most large archiving firms will do it, but it does cost money.

Bob Mooney:  Evan, are you seeing that the regulators are moving to where they believe that’s table stakes that firms need to be capturing text versus other ways of supervising electronic communications?

Evan Rosser:  Well, I mean, as Casey said, it’s an electronic, it’s a communication with a customer. It’s an electronic communication, but it is a communication, and you can say most anything in a text that you can say in an email. So yeah, I think they’re going to want firms to capture those, and that seems clearly to be the message from the recent cases that firms need to capture those texts, and that goes all the way to the top, which is another thing I’ve seen at firms.  They seem to think that the capturing of texts only applies to the registered reps, not to the senior officers of the firm who routinely use it. And that, again, has been an issue brought up in some of the enforcement cases that, they had rules around texting, but they were ignored not just by the reps, but also by the senior managers of the firm.

Bob Mooney:  That seemed to be an aggravating factor in some of the size of the fines, I think that we saw. So following up on communications with the public, there was some guidance with respect to crypto communications. There was a discussion about reviewing crypto communications to make sure that they’re not exaggerating benefits or that there’s a sufficient differentiation between broker dealer products and non-broker dealer products. Are these issues you’re seeing your clients wrestle with? And if so, how are they addressing that?

Evan Rosser:  If you’re going to discuss crypto with customers, some of that may not be done through the broker dealer, some of it’s going to be done somewhere else, and it just raises a whole host of issues that you really need to be very careful about and you really need to know what you’re talking about.

Casey Dougherty:  Yeah, I did. I guess I would add on to that as well, there could be several recommendations that are happening. When somebody makes a recommendation to buy crypto, they could actually be making a recommendation to sell a security and then buy crypto. And both sides of that recommendation need to be in the best interest of a client. So, FINRA can get its talons into a firm, into a financial professional, based on the sell side, even if we decided that the crypto wasn’t a security, which is still a bit of debate here. So, I would say that clients need to be looking at making sure that if they have any communications around this, that they’re obviously fair and balanced.  Risks are well disclosed, that if your financial professionals are talking about them, that they’re well informed about not only the risks, but what the products are.  You probably need some policies and procedures around supervising those recommendations. Joe, what am I missing here?

Joe Sisti:  I have, in review of disclosure of assets, had firms ask that associates tell them about crypto assets that they hold, but they have not requested documentation because, as Evan said, it’s so widespread and difficult to communicate that.  But other firms have taken the approach that it’s not a security and I don’t want to know about it at all.  Even in the review of your outside assets.

Evan Rosser:  You know, in some of the work we’ve done, as I recall, we have found that firms, while they may allow their associated persons to own crypto, they do not allow them to recommend it to their customers. I think a lot of firms right now aren’t allowing it to be recommended just because they don’t quite understand it yet.

Bob Mooney:  So Casey, you’re one of the newer consultants to join Oyster. I’m just interested in your take on how you look at the exam priority report from FINRA as a consultant advising a client versus someone responsible for the day-to-day execution of a compliance program.

Casey Dougherty:  Well, I think one of the things that’s been an eye-opening aspect of being part of a consulting firm like Oyster, Oyster has experts like Evan and Joe and well candidly, myriad others. And I’m really applying best practices in ways that I never did as just acting as a normal CCO. So I think in acting as a CCO, you really dig in.  You understand the components of your individual program. But when I act as a consultant and work with individual clients, what I’m really doing is I’m bringing the brain trust of not just me, but everybody over at Oyster that’s working in governance, risk and compliance to say, Hey, have you considered this? Have you considered that? So I think of it as a lot more holistic.  I think it’s a lot better at risk mitigation because there’s just more heads candidly, that are being brought to the table.

Joe Sisti:  Yeah, and that was what I was referring to earlier when you talked about doing an assessment on your program, whether the focus is Reg BI or any other aspect of your compliance program, you really get broad-based knowledge and you get to refine your focus based on recommendations provided by Oyster’s practitioners, and then focus your resources in a way that’s most effective to change.  That’s really hard to do while you’re working day to day with a pile of reports to go through and transactions to look at and managing a group of supervisory principles.  So, that’s the value of what we bring to the table.

Bob Mooney:  Well, that’s all we have time for today.  Joe, Casey, Evan, thank you very much for your time. To our listeners, if you’d like to learn more about how Oyster Consulting can help you with your compliance and regulatory needs, please visit Thank you.

Libby Hall:  Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you’d like to learn more about our experts and how Oyster can help your firm, visit our And if you like what you heard today, follow us on whatever platform you listen to and give us a review.  Reviews make it easier for people to find us. Have a great day. 

About The Podcast Speakers
Photo of Bob Mooney

Bob Mooney

Bob Mooney serves as General Counsel for Oyster Consulting, bringing deep compliance and risk leadership experience. Bob’s executive roles managing risk and controls for Wells Fargo Advisors’ Wealth and Investment Management businesses, in addition to his roles of Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Administration Officer, provide him with a perspective that expands Oyster’s ability to view issues through many vantage points.

Photo of Evan Rosser

Evan Rosser

Evan Rosser is an experienced and respected securities industry professional with over 25 years of experience managing complex securities investigations for NASD/FINRA and providing compliance expertise to both broker-dealers and investment advisors.  Evan has served as CCO for both investment advisors and broker-dealers, as well as providing compliance support to numerous broker-dealers and registered investment advisors.

Photo of Joe Sisti

Joe Sisti

Joe Sisti has more than 30 years of both front / back office experience in the Financial Services Industry.  His expertise and experience spans broker-dealer operations, compliance, relationship management, client integrations and conversion events.  Joe has worked multiple engagements with broker-dealers, clearing firms, and registered investment advisors, performing a varying scope of services including operational risk and readiness assessments, branch audits, compliance support, remediation projects and both trade and supervisory procedure reviews.

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Casey Dougherty

Casey Dougherty’s 20 years of experience includes expertise in Compliance and Legal supervision in a shared-services environment, executing broker-dealer to broker-dealer joint work and succession arrangements, and other marketing arrangements covering private placement life insurance, VUL and annuity sales.

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