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Broker-dealer firms play a crucial role in the financial industry, facilitating transactions and maintaining the integrity of financial markets. However, broker-dealers must adhere to strict regulations and undergo a periodic FINRA audit, also called broker dealer audits, by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to operate effectively and maintain trust. 


A Critical Process for A Qualified Firm: FINRA Audit

Preparing for a FINRA audit, also called a  broker-dealer examination, is critical to make or break your firm’s reputation and market standing. This comprehensive guide will walk you through crucial preparation areas to help you adequately prepare for a FINRA audit.


1. Understanding the FINRA Audit Process

Before diving into the preparation steps, it’s essential to understand the broker-dealer audit process. A FINRA audit is a comprehensive examination of a broker-dealer’s operations, books, and records to ensure broker dealer compliance with regulatory requirements. Auditors will assess various areas, including customer protection, financial responsibility, trading, and sales practices.


2. Remembering Deadlines

One of the first and most crucial steps in preparing for the audit is remembering and meeting all deadlines. Failure to do so can result in penalties or regulatory actions against your firm. Keep track of the audit notification date, document request, and the actual audit dates. Ensure your team is well-informed about these dates and prepared to meet them promptly.


3. Ensuring a Financial and Operations Principal (FinOp) is in Place

A qualified Financial and Operations Principal (FinOp) is a regulatory requirement for broker-dealer firms. The FinOp can be responsible for financial reporting, record-keeping, and ensuring the firm’s compliance with net capital requirements. Ensure you have a designated FinOp; their responsibilities and qualifications align with regulatory standards.


4. Understanding Broker-Dealer Exemptions

Broker-dealer firms may be eligible for certain exemptions or reduced regulatory obligations based on their size, business model, or client base. Understanding these exemptions can significantly impact the scope of your audit and compliance requirements. Consult with legal and compliance experts to determine which exemptions your firm may qualify for and ensure you adhere to them.


5. Preparing Essential External Documents

During a FINRA audit, you must provide various documents and records. These documents include but are not limited to:

  • Customer account records
  • Trade confirmations and statements
  • Compliance manuals and procedures
  • Financial statements and records
  • Written supervisory procedures
  • Anti-money laundering (AML) policies and records

Ensure that all these documents are up-to-date, organized, and readily accessible for auditors. Any discrepancies or missing documents can raise red flags during the audit.


6. Assurance Dimensions: Your Partner in Remote Auditing

In the digital age, many broker-dealer firms are looking for more convenient and efficient ways to undergo audits. Assurance Dimensions is here to help. We offer remote auditing services, allowing your firm to experience a FINRA audit without needing extensive on-site visits. Our experienced auditors will work with your team to ensure a smooth and compliant audit process while minimizing disruptions to your daily operations.


Securing Regulatory Compliance and FINRA Audit Success with Expert Guidance

Preparing for a broker dealer audit is a multifaceted process that requires meticulous attention to detail, adherence to deadlines, and a deep understanding of regulatory requirements. By remembering deadlines, ensuring a FinOp is in place, understanding broker-dealer exemptions, and preparing essential external documents, your firm can proactively manage the audit process and demonstrate a commitment to compliance.


Stay One Step Ahead with Assurance Dimensions

By following the steps outlined in this guide and partnering with Assurance Dimensions, you can ensure that your firm is well-prepared for your next audit, maintaining its reputation and regulatory compliance in the ever-evolving financial industry. Request a quote today, and let us help you prepare for your next audit.