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Practical tips for satisfying FINRA’s “culture” concerns

Daniel A. Nathan (Morvillo LLP, Washington, DC, USA)

Journal of Investment Compliance

ISSN: 1528-5812

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




To analyze FINRA’s focus on broker-dealer culture in its 2016 annual priorities letter and the application of the concept in FINRA disciplinary proceedings, to explain how that focus will affect FINRA’s examinations of firms, and to provide recommendations as to how a firm can develop or improve its culture of compliance.


This article examines FINRA’s current and historic pronouncements about “culture” in speeches, guidance, and decisions in disciplinary proceedings, and looks for common themes that should guide broker-dealers’ compliance.


This article concludes that even if the focus on culture might be regarded as an unnecessary overlay to the panoply of securities laws and regulations to which broker-dealers already are subject, firms should still take it seriously. It is now a focus of FINRA examinations for the purpose of fact-gathering, but FINRA might well elevate their concerns about culture into examination findings or worse.


This article gathers together all available information about the concept of firm “culture” and examines what aspects of the current focus represents legitimate concerns, and what aspects are unnecessary. The article takes the best of the guidance about culture and offers suggestions about how to improve a firm’s culture and, correspondingly, its compliance.



Editor’s Note: This article was published by Law360 on June 7, 2016,


Nathan, D.A. (2017), "Practical tips for satisfying FINRA’s “culture” concerns", Journal of Investment Compliance, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 8-14.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Morvillo LLP

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