Tag Archive for: Mitch Atkins FINRA

Join Mitch Atkins at the FINRA Arbitration and Enforcement Regional CLE Program

Join Mitch Atkins, Founder and Principal, FirstMark Regulatory Solutions, Inc., at the Third Annual American Bar Association Litigation Section’s Current Issues in FINRA Arbitration and Enforcement Regional CLE Program. Atkins will be presenting on the third panel: In-House Insomnia:  What Keeps Lawyers and Compliance Officers Up at Night? The panel will cover key topics of relevance to compliance personnel and attorneys focusing on securities matters. The panel will cover pressing compliance concerns including:

  • Technology and Surveillance – data mining, surveillance, and reporting
  • Culture of Compliance – how it influences the day-to-day activities within a broker-dealer
  • Regulation Best Interest – what firms are doing to prepare for the June 30, 2020 implementation date
  • Regulatory Inquiries and Investigations – responding to requests for information and handling concurrent investigations
  • Regulatory Examinations – preparation for examinations, responding to inquiries, problem mitigation, and costs
  • Business Considerations in Compliance – increasing costs of burdens of regulation, changing demographics and more

The panel’s speakers include broker-dealer compliance officers, in-house counsel and outside counsel. The session takes places at 11:15 AM on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at the offices of Bressler, Amery & Ross PC at 200 E. Las Olas Blvd.,  in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

FirstMark Regulatory Solutions provides compliance consulting services to broker-dealers and investment advisors. Founded in 2013, FirstMark provides expert advice and compliance consulting services. Areas of specialty include anti-money laundering independent testing, supervisory controls testing, FINRA membership applications, including FINRA CMA change of ownership and material change applications, among many other services offered.

Mitch Atkins has over 25 years of experience in the securities industry, having started work at NASD (FINRA’s predecessor) in the early ’90s as an examiner trainee. He worked his way up through the district office structure, working in virtually every district role until he was named the head of the Long Island office of NASD. Later, he was promoted to District Director of the Florida District Office of NASD, which became FINRA In 2007. He then became FINRA’s Senior Vice President and Regional Director covering four district offices in the FINRA South Region, overseeing regulation of approximately 850 broker-dealers. Since 2013, when he founded FirstMark, Atkins has been helping broker-dealers comply with the various SEC and FINRA Rules.

Download the brochure and register by clicking here.

Mitch Atkins to Speak at 2019 FMA Securities Compliance Seminar

Mitch Atkins, FirstMark’s founder and principal will be speaking on the Key 2019 Legislative and Regulatory Initiatives panel at FMA’s 2019 Securities Securities Compliance Seminar. The panel will take place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. in Fort Lauderdale. The panel will cover areas of enforcement focus in the financial industry. Additionally, the panel will address key legislative initiatives and rulemaking that impact broker-dealers and others in the financial services industry. Topics Mitch Atkins will discuss include AML Compliance, and in particular small firm experiences with the FinCEN CDD Rule, FINRA’s 529 Share Class Initiative, including recently issued frequently asked questions published by FINRA, the FINRA High-Risk Broker (Firm) initiative, and FINRA Examination Priorities.

Other panelists will cover a broad range of topics, including cyber security, fintech, crypto enforcement, SEC’s Regulation Best Interest, CFTC priorities, FINRA’ s CAT, Rule 606, customer privacy, and others. The conference includes 14 separate panels covering a wide variety of financial industry compliance topics. The conference is being held at the Marriott Pompano Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There is still space available. To register, visit www.fmaweb.org.

One of the topics to be covered on the panel will include a review of small firm experiences with the implementation of the FinCEN CDD Rule which required compliance beginning May 11, 2018. The Rule mandates that covered financial institutions implement procedures to ascertain the identities of beneficial owners and a control person for certain legal entity customers. Additionally, clients must certify as to the accuracy of this information. FirstMark Solutions has recommended that small and mid-sized FINRA members who are still struggling with the requirements consider utilizing the revised FINRA Small Firm Anti-Money Laundering Template to develop their procedures for compliance with the FinCEN CDD Rule. Additionally, FirstMark Solutions has also prepared a practical guide covering the requirements of the rule, and how firms can properly implement procedures to ensure they are compliant. That guide can be found here.

Mitch Atkins Presenting at FINRA South Region Conference

Mitch Atkins, founder and principal of FirstMark Regulatory Solutions, will present at the FINRA South Region Compliance Seminar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 6, 2017.  Mitch Atkins will present as a panelist on FINRA’s panel entitled Writing and Maintaining Written Supervisory Procedures. The panel will discuss the FINRA’s Supervision Rule (Rule 3110), and in particular, best practices for developing effective supervisory and compliance procedures. As a panelist, Atkins will discuss the regulatory requirements for procedures, and will provide take-away resource materials to attendees that will serve as a guide for developing procedures, including procedures for FINRA’s new Rule 2165 on financial exploitation of seniors/specified adults.

One of the most commonly cited violations on FINRA examinations is the failure to develop and implement adequate written supervisory procedures (“WSPs”). Beyond simply satisfying regulatory requirements, effective WSPs are a compliance tool that broker-dealers utilize to delegate responsibilities for compliance with FINRA and SEC rules. Additionally, effective WSPs do more than simply state the requirements of a particular rule, rather, they serve as a blueprint of the firm’s supervisory system. A supervisory system collectively includes the processes, technology, personnel and related documentation. Before engaging in the development of WSPs a firm should first carefully consider all aspects of an overall supervisory system. Lastly, an effective supervisory system includes clear lines of authority. There have been numerous regulatory enforcement actions which cited firms for failure to designate authority, or worse, in which a problem arose, but the lines of authority were blurred such that nothing was done to correct the problem. In some of these cases, the identification of the problem was not the issue so much as who was responsible for the resolution of the issue. These issues will be covered by the panel, which includes industry and regulator participation. The FINRA South Region Conference is a cost-effective way to gain additional knowledge in this and many other areas.

To register, please visit http://www.finra.org/industry/2017-south-region-compliance-seminar 

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. Mitch Atkins founded FirstMark in 2013.

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

mitch atkins finra

Update: To view the session materials, click the image below:

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 www.finra.org/conferences/southregion

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.