FINRA Membership Application Rules Retrospective – FirstMark’s Summary


Check out the article written by FirstMark’s founder, Mitch Atkins, on LinkedIn summarizing the comments received in response to the FINRA Membership Application Rules Retrospective. This retrospective is a look back at the FINRA Membership Application Rules and further a request to the public for comment on what might be changed about the rules and processes.  FINRA often seeks comment about rule changes, but the retrospective is a bit different. FINRA has specifically selected rules for review as part of this process. Another area under review is the FINRA Advertising Rules. What is interesting is that despite the level of attention (i.e. frustration) that some have voiced about these rules over the years, very few actually commented in response to FINRA’s request. After reviewing the comment letters, Mitch Atkins believes that many of the common issues that arise in connection with the FINRA Membership Application Rules have been addressed.  To find out exactly what the commenters said, visit Mitch Atkins’ full article.

Mitch Atkins is a former regulator who held many roles at FINRA (and previously NASD) over a period of 20 years. He was responsible for overseeing FINRA’s South Region and administration of the FINRA Membership Application program within that region before the process was centralized in FINRA’s New York Offices. He has extensive experience with the FINRA Membership Application Rules and FINRA process for handling membership applications. For the last two years, Mitch Atkins has served as a FINRA Membership Application Rules consultant, helping those who wish to file FINRA NMA or CMA applications through FirstMark Regulatory Solutions which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. With 22 years of experience with FINRA Membership Application Rules, Mitch Atkins is uniquely positioned to offer an opinion and commentary. In the article, Mitch Atkins provides his perspective on the comments and what FINRA might do in response.

Mitchell C. Atkins to Present at 21st Annual Spring Life Settlement Conference

mitchell c. atkins

Mitchell C. Atkins, FirstMark’s founder and FINRA broker-dealer consultant will present on the fiduciary duty of agents and advisors at the 21st Annual Spring Life Settlement Conference in Boston on May 5, 2015. He will discuss the obligations of registered persons related to life settlement options when a variable policy is lapsing or is surrendered. Some states require disclosure of life settlements as an option, but this is not universal. Many customers who lapse or surrender a life insurance policy receive less money than if they considered a life settlement. The panel will address where there is an obligation under a fiduciary standard or FINRA Suitability Rules, and how recent DOL proposals regarding the fiduciary standard might impact life settlements. Mitchell C. Atkins has extensive experience in variable insurance products, including variable life settlements and the obligations of representatives and broker-dealers selling these products. While he was employed with FINRA (previously NASD), Atkins was designated as a national regulatory expert in mutual funds and variable insurance products by FINRA. Atkins worked at FINRA (previously NASD) for 20 years and has presented at numerous industry conferences on the topic of variable insurance. For more information about the conference, please visit the Life Settlement Association (LISA) internet site.

LISA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing participants in the Settlement Industry with a current membership of over 85 Companies, doing business in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  LISA’s membership consists of Brokers, Providers, Financing Entities, and Service Providers to the industry.

FirstMark Regulatory Solutions was founded by Mitchell C. Atkins in December of 2013 and is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  FirstMark offers a broad range of broker-dealer compliance consulting services, including AML independent testing, FINRA membership applications, internal controls testing, SRO relationship management, strategic advisory, and litigation support.

Mitch Atkins Presents at FINRA South Region Compliance Seminar

Mitch Atkins, founder and principal of FirstMark Regulatory Solutions, will present at the FINRA South Region Compliance Seminar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 20, 2014.  Atkins will present as a panelist on FINRA’s Suitability panel. The panel will discuss the FINRA Suitability Rule (Rule 2111), and in particular, the suitability of variable annuity L-shares and non-traded REITs.

While he was employed with FINRA (formerly NASD), Atkins was designated as a national regulatory expert in the areas of mutual funds and variable annuities. He founded FirstMark Regulatory Solutions in December of 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. FirstMark offers a broad range of compliance consulting services, including AML independent testing, Rule 3120 supervisory controls testing, SRO relationship management, FINRA membership applications, training, and more.

To register, please visit

For more information and to view the seminar brochure and agenda, simply click the image below.


FirstMark Regulatory Solutions Announces Launch of Broker-Dealer Consulting Practice

Fort Lauderdale – January 28, 2014. FirstMark Regulatory Solutions announced that it would begin offering consultancy services to clients in the financial services industry.  Its founder, Mitchell Atkins, said that the firm will offer its services to a variety of clients including SEC and FINRA registered broker-dealers, their accountants and their attorneys.  He said, “The breadth and scope of the ever-changing and sometimes overlapping regulatory requirements often prompts organizations in this industry to seek expert assistance. Navigating these complexities is our business and our passion.”

Atkins has over 20 years experience in various roles at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) – formerly the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).  Most recently, he held the position of Senior Vice President and Regional Director of FINRA’s South Region.  In that role, he oversaw the regulatory programs of FINRA’s Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta and Florida District Offices.  Atkins has extensive experience in the areas of regulatory risk assessment and complex regulatory matters.  Atkins said,

“I am excited about the opportunity transform my extensive experience and unique perspectives into valuable insights that will help those in the industry successfully navigate its complex regulatory environment.”

FirstMark Regulatory Solutions, which is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will provide specialized services including litigation support, FINRA membership applications, AML independent testing and more.