Focus on Senior Investors: FINRA’s Latest Rule Proposals

On October 19, 2016, FINRA filed with the SEC a proposed rule change that would amend FINRA Rule 4512 (Customer Account Information), and adopt new FINRA Rule 2165 (Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults).  The proposed amendments to FINRA Rule 4512 would require broker-dealers to make reasonable efforts to obtain the name and contact information for a “trusted contact person” for a customer’s account.  In addition, new FINRA Rule 2165 would permit (but not require) broker-dealers to place temporary holds on disbursements of funds or securities from the accounts of certain senior investors, as well as other investors with diminished capacity, when there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation.

This rule proposal fits squarely within FINRA’s recent focus on protecting senior investors, particularly with FINRA’s recent launch of the “Securities Helpline for Seniors,” and should remain a continued regulatory focus moving forward.

Active or Passive Investor? It Depends. . .

On July 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) announced that investment firm ValueAct had entered into a consent decree in which it agreed to pay $11 million to settle charges that two of its affiliated funds acquired large stakes in Halliburton Company (“Halliburton”) and Baker Hughes Incorporated (“Baker Hughes”) in violation of the notification and waiting requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (the “HSR Act”). The DOJ asserted that ValueAct was required to make an HSR Act filing, but ValueAct had asserted that no such filing was required due to the “investment-only” or so-called “passive investor” exemption. On the heels of such announcement, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) provided clarification that it does not view the inability to utilize the “passive investor” exemption under the HSR Act as equivalent to an investor not being considered “passive” for purposes of Section 13(d) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).

Read more here: Activism and Passivity: HSR Act and Section 13(d) Developments for Investors