The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently announced an update to some of its rules regarding registrants who may have stepped away from the industry for a short period of time. The group specifically states that it added a new program, the Maintaining Qualifications Program (MQP), in an attempt to accommodate women and underrepresented minorities who, due to personal circumstances, need to step away from the industry for a time.
The changes deal specifically with the continuing education rules for those who are away from the industry for no more than five years. This is an extension from past allowances, which generally provided a registrant a two-year absence before they would need to retake a qualification exam.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved the changes this past September. They go into effect January 2, 2023. Eligible participants can participate in the MQP starting March 15, 2022.
The changes include the following:
- Those who terminate their representative or principal registration categories can maintain their qualification by completing annual CE through the MQP
- CE Regulatory Element is required on an annual basis for each representative or principal registration category
- Firms can consider other training toward the satisfaction of an individual’s annual CE Firm Element requirement
In addition to increased flexibility, the SEC also notes that the changes encourage those who lose their jobs to stay up to date on the CEs while continuing to look for employment. The changes also help investors as they are more likely to get brokers who have stayed current on CE essentials.