CE Council/FINRA Request Comment on CE Program

The Securities Industry/Regulatory Council on Continuing Education (CE Council) is seeking comment on enhancements under consideration for the continuing education requirements for registered persons. The CE Council, which is comprised of representatives from the securities industry, including FINRA, develops uniform continuing education requirements for registered persons and broker dealers.

The continuing education program consists of two parts: a Regulatory Element and Firm Element. The Regulatory Element, administered by FINRA, focuses on regulatory requirements and industry standards. The Firm Element, developed and administered by each broker dealer, focuses on securities products, services and strategies offered by broker-dealers, amongst other topics such as firm policies and industry trends.

The CE Council is planning to transition the Regulatory Element program to a shorter and more-focused learning requirement administered annually. They additionally want the Firm Element to reflect advances in technology and learning theory, while continuing to ensure registered persons receive timely education on the securities market and applicable regulatory requirements. The CE Council is also considering letting individuals maintain their qualification status following the termination of their registrations with their broker-dealer firms.

The CE Council has identified a number of possible program enhancements, as well as several areas for which the CE Council is interested in gathering additional information on current firm practices and needs. Some of these questions include:

1.) In order to increase the timeliness of Regulatory Element content, the CE Council is considering recommending moving to an annual requirement. Although the transition would reduce the amount of content included in a session to approximately one-third of the current program, the increased frequency could result in increased effort required to monitor participation. What are the potential impacts of this transition to firms?

2.) The CE Council has discussed with FINRA possible enhancements to the CRD system and the Financial Professional Gateway. Would enhanced reporting and automated notification functions help mitigate the additional efforts required to monitor participation of an annual Regulatory Element requirement? What other system enhancements would firms find helpful?

3.) The CE Council is considering narrowing the focus of the Regulatory Element to rule changes and significant regulatory issues. Does this seem like an appropriate focus? Are there other topics that should be included within the Regulatory Element?

4.) Is the current Firm Element Advisory (FEA) useful? Do firms reference the FEA when planning their training programs? Which aspects of the FEA are most helpful? Are there other resources the CE Council should provide to help firms meet their Firm Element requirements?

5.) How much Firm Element training does the typical covered person receive? Are electronic and in-person courses the standard format for delivering Firm Element training? Do most courses include an assessment component? What other learning activities do firms commonly use to meet Firm Element requirements?

6.). Is Firm Element generally limited to covered persons? Do firms typically offer similar amounts of training to registered persons who are not covered persons? Do firms offer similar training opportunities to unregistered persons? Should the Firm Element requirement apply to all registered persons? What types of training do covered persons undertake that should be included as Firm Element training?

7.) Should the CE Council pursue a recommendation to allow previously registered individuals to maintain their qualification status while away from the industry? Does a CE program seem like an appropriate way to accomplish this?

8.) If the CE Council recommended introducing a CE program that allowed individuals to maintain their qualification status while outside the industry, how much CE would be sufficient?

9.) If the CE Council recommended introducing such a program, should it impose an experience requirement for individuals to be eligible? If the CE Council recommended establishing a minimum duration of prior registration, what would be a reasonable requirement?

10.) In developing a specific recommendation to change the industry CE requirements, what are the most important issues for the CE Council to consider?

The comment period on this Regulatory Notice expires November 5, 2018. To read the complete Regulatory Notice, click here.