Tag Archive for: Mitch Atkins

Atkins Discusses FinCEN CDD Rule on FINRA AML Panel

Don’t miss the the AML Challenges panel at the 2018 FINRA Annual Conference on May 23, 2018 in Washington DC. FirstMark’s founder, Mitch Atkins, will present as a panelist. One of the key topics to be discussed is the FinCEN CDD Rule. The rule became fully effective May 11, 2018. If you’re ready, or even if you’re not, implementation questions still abound. As recently as April 2018. FinCEN issued additional guidance in the form of FAQs. This was the second round of FAQs issued on the FinCEN CDD Rule. The first round can be found here. Many firms have experienced challenges in understanding the nuances involved with the beneficial ownership requirements, including the ownership and control prong. There are numerous exceptions and interpretations to both. Also, perhaps more challenging has been the so-called “fifth pillar” requirements that involving ongoing monitoring to detect potential suspicious activity. The FinCEN CDD Rule codifies, for the first time, the requirement to conduct ongoing monitoring and to update customer information if there are red flags noted. Some AMLCOs have struggled with the concept of the fifth pillar, particularly with regard to the ongoing monitoring requirements. Questions have arisen as to whether the FinCEN CDD Rule requires that small firms implement an automated surveillance system. Guidance issued by Treasury on the FinCEN CDD Rule provides that this is not true – there is no new requirement to install a trade surveillance system. Instead, the FAQs explain that the monitoring can be done on a risk basis. However, during the course of the normal risk monitoring, if a red flag of potentially suspicious activity is noted, the customer profile that was developed based on the FinCEN CDD Rule “nature and purpose” provision should be revisited and if necessary updated. All of these issues will be addressed on the AML Challenges panel at the 2018 FINRA Annual Conference in Washington DC. If you haven’t signed up and were considering doing so, you can at this link. Also, you can view the conference video

Click on the image below to view the conference brochure:

FinCEN CDD Rule Atkins


Click on the image below to view FirstMark’s presentation materials (a practical quick reference guide to the FinCEN CDD Rule).

FinCEN CDD Rule Atkins

FirstMark Regulatory Solutions, Inc. is a compliance consulting organization based in Boca Raton, Florida. Mitch Atkins is FirstMark’s founder and principal. He focuses on broker-dealer compliance matters, including anti-money laundering independent testing, FINRA new member applications, FINRA CMAs, FINRA Enforcement litigation support, and supervisory controls testing.




Electronic Communication “Let’s Talk Supervision”

Compliance risks exist in your electronic communication. How will you effectively manage these risks? With the volume and velocity of information flowing through electronic communications channels, supervision has become a real challenge. Mitch Atkins presented at the Actiance Executive Briefing Series in New York on April 7, 2016 on how organizations can leverage their electronic communications applications to comply with regulatory requirements. Entitled, “Let’s Talk Supervision: Freedom with Responsibility” the talk took place at the Viceroy hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Among the topics discussed were:

  • FINRA 2016 examination priorities
  • Electronic communications requirements
  • Managing volume in supervisory reviews
  • Common challenges in managing reviews
  • Supervision of non-email content

Atkins discussed recent FINRA disciplinary actions that involved electronic communications rules violations, including two from the 1st quarter of 2016 in which FINRA named individuals, including a Chief Compliance Officer. CCOs are faced with many challenges from day to day and some of those include managing the review of electronic communications. During the presentation, Atkins stated that excessive volume, low value keywords, lack of training for reviewers and representatives, and insufficient internal controls contribute to failures in thia area. He emphasized that electronic communication channels are dynamic as is the language that is used through these channels. As such, supervisory systems related to electronic communications must also be dynamic. Keyword flagging databases must be updated frequently and should be developed with the input of the supervisors of the departments for which electronic communications are being monitored. Additionally, broker-dealers must develop and document that training has been conducted for associated persons who use electronic communications. He advised that systems of supervisory controls such as annual attestations by associated persons as to the electronic communications channels they use and that they understand the prohibition of using outside email or non-email channels for business communications. He recommended periodic testing of electronic communication channels to ensure that all are being captured in supervisory systems. He also queried the audience whether, in light of FINRA’s recent emphasis on culture of compliance, they know what culture is appearing in their electronic communications.

Electronic Communication Live Webinar

Additionally, Mitch Atkins was a featured presenter at the Actiance “From Supervision to Surveillance” webinar on April 12, 2016. This session also cover challenges in surveillance of electronic communication. View more information about the live webinar here. Another session will occur on May 5, 2016, and it is not too late to register.

Mitch Atkins to Discuss CCO Liability at ACFCS Financial Crime Conference in New York City

Mitch Atkins, founder of FirstMark Regulatory Solutions, is presenting at the Association for Certified Financial Crime Specialists (AFCFS) 2015 Financial Crime Conference on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.  Atkins will participate as a panelist on the Financial Crime Landscape for the Securities Industry panel and will discuss recent trends in chief compliance officer (CCO) and anti-money laundering compliance officer (AMLCO) liability.  As part of the discussion, Atkins will cover recent regulatory guidance for CCOs and AMLCOs.  There will be a panel discussion on FINRA’s recent action against an AMLCO which has raised concern among those with AML compliance responsibilities.  After the discussion on CCO liability, Atkins will discuss FINRA’s continued focus on complex products as was discussed in their Annual Examination Priorities Letter. Complex products present numerous opportunities for financial crimes, particularly when the product lacks transparency and liquidity. Atkins will discuss recent FINRA cases and examination trends involving complex products, including one related to a fraudulent private placement that resulted in the bar of a broker-dealer principal and the expulsion of his firm.

Click below for a link to the conference registration site:

mitch atkins

Click here to visit Mitch Atkins‘ bio. The Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (ACFCS) is a worldwide organization for private and public sector professionals who work in diverse financial crime disciplines. Its membership includes compliance officers, law enforcement agents, regulators, attorneys, technology providers, and others who work to detect and prevent financial crime in all its forms – money laundering, tax evasion, corruption, fraud, cyber crime, terrorist financing, and more. FirstMark Regulatory Solutions was founded by Mitch Atkins in December of 2013 and is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Mitch Atkins is a FINRA broker-dealer Consultant. FirstMark offers a broad range of compliance consulting services, including AML independent testing, internal controls testing, FINRA membership applications, SRO relationship management, strategic advisory, and litigation support.

FirstMark founder Mitch Atkins – Panelist at the 3rd Annual Life Equity Roundtable

FirstMark Regulatory Solutions founder and principal, Mitch Atkins, will participate as a panelist at the 3rd Annual Life Equity Roundtable in Aurora, Ohio on July 16, 2014.  The session, titled Variable Transactions Panel, covers various aspects of variable life settlements and the regulatory requirements for transactions involving these products.  The Roundtable will be attended by representatives from every aspect of the life settlement business, including investors, actuaries, brokers and marketers.  The discussion will include legal updates within the life settlement space, including FINRA requirements for the products.

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.