Letter from 2019 Council Chair

As 2019 Chair of the Securities Industry/Regulatory Council on Continuing Education (“CE Council”), I am very excited to present to the industry the recommendations of the CE Council for enhancing the securities industry’s continuing education program. These recommendations represent the work product of the diverse group of individuals from firms and regulatory agencies that together set out a few years ago to improve the continuing education program for the approximately 630,000 registered professionals who work in this dynamic and complex industry. In September of 2018, CE Council published a group of potential CE program enhancements, which was followed by regulatory notices, which solicited comments from the public on a number of questions regarding CE program enhancements. I can assure you that those involved with crafting these recommendations presented have been extremely thoughtful and have carefully taken into account all of the industry input received in response to regulatory notices, industry forums, and viewpoints from every size and type of firm in the industry.

The CE Council recommendations to transform continuing education establish higher standards for more timely and relevant education for industry professionals through an enhanced combination of annual regulatory and firm element education. Moving to annual regulatory element education utilizing new and diverse instructional formats, and content focused on individual registrations, will enhance the quality and value of the regulatory element continuing education experience. To assist firms in their annual needs analysis, CE Council is recommending that the regulatory element learning topics for each year be published to firms prior to the start of each year allowing them to consider the topics scheduled to be covered as they plan their Firm Element program content. In addition, the CE Council believes that a larger library of optional firm element content, offered through FINRA’s learning platform, would be valuable to many firms in the industry in developing their firm element program. Finally, encouraging all firms to more creatively utilize the broad array of education that occurs today (such as AML training, annual compliance meeting, CFP training, product training, etc.) when designing their firm element education will result in more effective firm element continuing education. These recommendations and ideas, when taken together, will allow firms to synchronize their firm element education with the regulatory element content and create a more effective overall continuing education program for their registered individuals.

Equally important, I am excited to announce that CE Council has asked the SRO’s to consider rule changes which would allow individuals to leave the industry for several years in order to pursue personal responsibilities or career growth, without having to requalify through examination when re-entering the securities industry. CE Council feels strongly this can work to the advantage of the industry and the investing public, so long as an annual and robust continuing education is required to maintain qualifications.

Well qualified financial professionals are critical to the millions of US investors and institutions who seek investment advice to help them reach their financial goals. In this ever changing world of continuously changing markets, products and services, it is essential that the professionals who deliver advice remain well-qualified. It has been a clearly defined goal of CE Council to review the state of the rules and practices of the industry pertaining to continuing education and to recommend changes where it deems necessary. The CE Council makes the attached recommendations in this light, and invites your comment as the regulators and CE Council continue their progress toward CE transformation. I look forward to your feedback and sincerely hope the results of our continued work will be positive and beneficial to our firms, our employees and the investing public.

Jeffry Freiburger

Chair, Securities Industry/Regulatory Council on Continuing Education