THE BLOG

31
May

Orion Bi-Weekly: New Product Updates, Ascent Early Bird Pricing, Compliance Insights and More!

What's new with Orion? In this update, you'll find what you need to know about our latest software update, how to save on the cost of Ascent registration, what new integration can simplify your CRM and more!

The post Orion Bi-Weekly: New Product Updates, Ascent Early Bird Pricing, Compliance Insights and More! appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.

31
May

The Important of SEC Mock Exams

Recently, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been showing up unannounced at registered investment advisors’ (RIA) offices to conduct surprise investigations in order to:

  • Better understand how an RIA operates on an everyday basis.
  • Avoid allowing the RIA to “clean up” its compliance program and records after receiving notice of an impending SEC exam and a document request letter.

Since many RIAs believe they would flunk an SEC exam1 and their senior executives question whether their firm can satisfy SEC examiners’ expectations, this new tactic is causing understandable concern among RIAs.

Overall, the SEC has been ramping up the frequency of its examinations in the last few years – in 2011, it conducted exams on 8% of RIAs; in 2017, it conducted exams on 13% (1,614 firms).

In 2016, of the 1,477 firms audited:

  • 72% resulted in a deficiency
  • 27% resulted in a “significant finding”
  • 9% were referred to enforcement2

RIAs are particularly anxious about these exams since they often lack a clear understanding of the SEC’s exam priorities. Though the SEC has not released its 2018 priorities list, it stated that it would focus on the following in 2017, among others: protecting retail investors (including a focus on “robo-advising” and wrap fee programs); identifying potential exploitation of senior investors; RIAs’ compliance with SEC Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity (SCI) and anti-money laundering rules; FINRA operations and regulatory programs; and cybersecurity.3

How should an RIA prepare for a surprise or a scheduled SEC exam?

Conducting an “SEC mock exam,” during which internal staff or a third party simulates the type of exam the SEC would administer, can help ensure that you’re as prepared as possible. Specifically, a mock exam should identify:

  • Potential weaknesses in compliance programs and controls.
  • Appropriate steps your firm should take to enhance those controls and update policies and procedures.

Specific steps to prepare:

  • Review any recent SEC exam request letters and confirm that you can produce the required documents and data. Are your records readily accessible? Can you prepare requested reports promptly in the format requested?  Do you have the personnel and/or expertise to understand SEC information requests and “SEC hot buttons?”
  • Review any prior SEC communications, including SEC exam deficiency letters and the steps you said you took orwould take to address the deficiencies. If you did not address one, do so now.
  • Review your current business model, including any changes in businesses, products, operations, and personnel, against your current controls, policies, and procedures. Do your policies and procedures accurately reflect your business and control structure?
  • Assess the ability of all your employees to prepare for and respond to an SEC exam and the examiners. Educate your employees about proper ways to respond both orally and in written form.
  • Determine the project management tools your firm has to appropriately manage a multiplemonth SEC exam withmultiple data requests. How will you track the responsive materials provided to the SEC and the multiple follow-up document requests? Develop a tracking matrix and ensure you have the ability to “Bates Stamp” your responsive documents.
  • Assess the expertise your firm has to work with the SEC during your exam, and draft appropriate responses toSEC recommendations and observations.
  • In order to avoid potentially negative consequences, consider hiring an expert to partner with and manage yourSEC exam to a successful and minimallyinvasive conclusion. An expert compliance consultant, such as Northern Lights Compliance Services, LLC (NLCS), can manage a mock SEC exam, prepare assessment results, and partner with you to enhance your compliance program and controls, including your policies and procedures.

Sources:
1) Gap Found in Managers’ Confidence in Compliance Programs – Survey, Rick Baert, August 11, 2017
2) http://www.riainabox.com/blog/key-2017-sec-ria-examination-frequency-and-enforcement-statistics
3) https://www.sec.gov/news/pressrelease/2017-7.html

0001-NLCS-1/19/2018
2013-NLD-1/30/2018

30
May

3 Reasons You’ll Want to Attend Orion’s Eclipse + Communities Summit

Choose from one of three training tacks at our Eclipse + Communities Summit in Omaha and get on your way to becoming a trading and tax-loss harvesting expert.

The post 3 Reasons You’ll Want to Attend Orion’s Eclipse + Communities Summit appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.

23
May

3 Ways to Simplify Your Advisory Fee Billing Process

Orion helps simplify your advisory fee billing process by keeping all your data in one place, minimizing compliance risks, and creating a streamlined way for clients to pay.

The post 3 Ways to Simplify Your Advisory Fee Billing Process appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.

17
May

Demystifying Liquid Alternatives

Content provided by Grant Engelbart, CFA, CAIA, Portfolio Manager One of our latest investment themes, Be Creative, emphasizes the use of alternative assets in portfolios. Alternatives is a broad and often confusing category of investments that encompasses unique assets, such as commodities, and alternative strategies, often called liquid alternatives, packaged in a systematic way. Some...
17
May

May 2018 Software Update: Full Release Notes

We’ve got new reports, integration announcements, and enhancements to bring the client portal and mobile app closer together. It’s all in today’s full Release Notes blog.

The post May 2018 Software Update: Full Release Notes appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.

16
May

Time to Be Active

Content provided by Michael Hadden, Junior Research Analyst Now that summer is around the corner, I assume it’s safe to say most New Year’s resolutions have fallen to the wayside. For many, myself included, that resolution involved getting to the gym and being more active. And while I haven’t been great at making it to...
15
May

5 Tips for Breakaways Evaluating the Advisor Tech Landscape

As a breakaway advisor, one of the biggest decisions you’re likely facing is evaluating and choosing the best advisor technology to suit your needs. This process doesn’t have to be difficult—and you don’t have to do it alone. Check out our 5 tips for getting started in today’s blog post:

The post 5 Tips for Breakaways Evaluating the Advisor Tech Landscape appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.

10
May

Stop Buying Advisor Technology Like It’s the 1990s

Orion’s CEO, Eric Clarke, writes in Financial Planning Magazine, that advisors will struggle to stand out if they all use the same bundled tech stacks with the same reporting and portfolios. Read more of Eric’s advice on choosing technology to best fit your business model.

The post Stop Buying Advisor Technology Like It’s the 1990s appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.

08
May

Best Practices for Monitoring Required Minimum Distributions

Keep your clients on track by monitoring required minimum distributions with the Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) dashboard app from Orion.

The post Best Practices for Monitoring Required Minimum Distributions appeared first on Orion Advisor Services.