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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Adopt the Selection Specifications and Study Outline for the Operations Professional (“Series 99”) Examination Program

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Start Preamble August 30, 2011.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) [1] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2] notice is hereby given that on August 22, 2011, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by FINRA. FINRA has designated the proposed rule change as constituting a “non-controversial” rule change under paragraph (f)(6) of Rule 19b-4 under the Act,[3] which renders the proposal effective upon receipt of this filing by the Commission. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons.

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change

FINRA is proposing to adopt the selection specifications and content outline for the Operations Professional (“Series 99”) examination program.[4]

The Series 99 examination program is proposed in connection with FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6), a new representative registration category and qualification examination requirement for certain operations personnel. FINRA is not proposing any textual changes to its By-Laws, Schedules to the By-Laws or rules.

A description of the Series 99 examination is included in the attached content outline. Additional information on the examination is included in the Series 99 selection specifications, which FINRA has submitted under separate cover with a request for confidential treatment to the Commission's Secretary pursuant to Rule 24b-2 under the Act.[5]

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission, FINRA included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. FINRA has prepared summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose

On June 16, 2011, the Commission approved FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6), which establishes a registration category and qualification examination requirement for certain operations personnel—Operations Professionals.[6] FINRA is expanding its registration provisions to require registration of certain individuals (“covered persons”) who are engaged in, responsible for or supervising certain member operations functions (“covered functions”) to enhance the regulatory structure surrounding these areas.[7] FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6) is intended, among other things, to increase covered persons' awareness and knowledge that they are operating in a regulated environment designed to protect investors' interests and the integrity of the operations of a broker-dealer.

Pursuant to Section 15A(g)(3)(B) of the Act,[8] FINRA is authorized to prescribe standards of training, experience, and competence for persons associated with FINRA members. The Start Printed Page 55444Series 99 examination program has been developed to provide reasonable assurance that covered persons understand their professional responsibilities, including key regulatory and control themes, as well as the importance of identifying and escalating red flags that may harm a firm, its customers, the integrity of the marketplace or the public. The examination will test applicants on general securities industry knowledge and its associated regulations and rules.[9]

The Series 99 examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.[10] Candidates will be allowed 150 minutes to complete the examination. Candidates will receive an informational breakdown of their performance on each section of the examination, along with their overall score and pass/fail status at the completion of the testing session.[11]

A content outline has been prepared to assist member firms in preparing candidates for the Series 99 examination and is available at http://www.finra.org/​brokerqualifications/​registeredrep. The content outline describes the following three topical sections comprising the examination: (1) Basic Knowledge Associated with the Securities Industry (32 questions); (2) Basic Knowledge Associated with Broker-Dealer Operations (48 questions); and (3) Professional Conduct and Ethical Considerations (20 questions).

The selection specifications for the Series 99 examination, which FINRA has submitted under separate cover with a request for confidential treatment to the Commission's Secretary pursuant to Rule 24b-2 under the Act,[12] describe additional confidential information regarding the examination.

FINRA has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness. The implementation date of the proposed rule change and corresponding FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6) will be October 17, 2011.

2. Statutory Basis

FINRA believes that the proposed Series 99 examination program is consistent with Section 15A(b)(6) of the Act,[13] which requires, among other things, that FINRA rules be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest and Section 15A(g)(3) of the Act,[14] which authorizes FINRA to prescribe standards of training, experience, and competence for persons associated with FINRA members. FINRA believes the proposed rule change to expand FINRA's registration and qualification requirements to Operations Professionals will help ensure that investor protection mechanisms are in place in all areas of a member's business that could harm the member, a customer, the integrity of the marketplace or the public.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

FINRA does not believe that the proposed rule change will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants, or Others

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action

Because the foregoing proposed rule change does not: (i) Significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) become operative for 30 days from the date on which it was filed, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate, it has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act [15] and Rule 19b4(f)(6) thereunder.[16]

At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, the Commission summarily may temporarily suspend such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. If the Commission takes such action, the Commission shall institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule should be approved or disapproved.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic Comments

Paper Comments

  • Send paper comments in triplicate to Elizabeth M. Murphy, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549-1090.

All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FINRA-2011-041. This file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/​rules/​sro.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the Start Printed Page 55445public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for Web site viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street, NE., Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of FINRA. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FINRA-2011-041 and should be submitted on or before September 28, 2011.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.[17]

Elizabeth M. Murphy,

Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

4.  Based upon instruction from the Commission staff, FINRA is submitting SR-FINRA-2011-041 for immediate effectiveness pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act and Rule 19b-4(f)(6) thereunder, and is not filing the question bank for Commission review. See Letter from Belinda Blaine, Associate Director, Division of Market Regulation, SEC, to Alden S. Adkins, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, NASD Regulation, dated July 24, 2000. The question bank is available for Commission review.

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6.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 64687 (June 16, 2011), 76 FR 36586 (June 22, 2011) (Order Approving File No. SR-FINRA-2011-013). In addition to adopting FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6), the rule change adopted NASD Rule 1120 (Continuing Education Requirements) as new FINRA Rule 1250 (Continuing Education Requirements) with certain changes, including expanding the scope of “covered registered persons” subject to the Firm Element to include persons registered as Operations Professionals. See Regulatory Notice 11-33 (July 2011).

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7.  See Regulatory Notice 11-33 (July 2011) for information regarding the implementation period for Operations Professionals subject to FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6).

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8.  15 U.S.C. 78 o-3(g)(3)(B).

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9.  FINRA Rule 1230(b)(6)(D) sets forth an exception to the Operations Professional qualification examination requirement for persons who currently hold certain registrations (each an “eligible registration”) or have held one during the two years immediately prior to registering as an Operations Professional. The exception also applies to persons who do not hold an eligible registration, but prefer an alternative to taking the Operations Professional examination. Such persons may register in an eligible registration category (subject to passing the corresponding qualification examination or obtaining a waiver) and use such registration to qualify for Operations Professional registration.

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10.  To ensure that new exam questions meet acceptable testing standards prior to use, each examination includes 10 additional, unidentified “pre-test” questions that do not contribute towards the candidate's score. The 10 pre-test questions are randomly distributed throughout the examination.

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11.  Candidates for the Series 99 examination will be able to schedule and take the examination starting on October 17, 2011. Because this is a new examination for a new registration category, FINRA will be assessing the effectiveness of the examination by in part, evaluating the candidates' performance during the first 60 days of the administration of the examination. Therefore, candidates who take the examination within the first 60 days (between October 17, 2011 and December 16, 2011) will not receive their test results on the day that they take the examination. Instead, such candidates' firms will be notified of test results (i.e., the candidate's score and whether the candidate has passed or failed the examination) on or shortly after December 16, 2011. The test results will be posted to the Central Registration Depository system (“CRD® system”) at that time. Candidates who fail the examination during the initial 60-day rollout will be provided an opportunity to retake the examination at no additional cost.

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[FR Doc. 2011-22765 Filed 9-6-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P