FINRA is postponing in-person arbitration and mediation proceedings through May 1 in an attempt to help halt the spread of the coronavirus, according to the self-regulatory agency tasked with supervising broker/dealer conduct.
“We recognize that this decision may cause inconvenience and we do not make it lightly,” the FINRA website reads. “We are taking this preventative action out of an abundance of caution, in the interest of public safety. The well-being of our FINRA employees, arbitrators, stakeholders and communities is of paramount importance.”
However, FINRA’s decision pertains to arbitration and mediation proceedings only, noting that the decision “does not affect other case deadlines” and they would continue to apply unless the parties involved decided otherwise.
The move by FINRA is the latest in an increasing number of shifts by financial service regulatory agencies in response to the spread of the coronavirus, which is instigating shutdowns of school districts, public gatherings and bars and restaurants throughout the country. Currently, the majority of SEC staff is teleworking, and last week staff at the commission’s D.C. office were ordered to work remotely as an employee underwent testing for the virus.
On Friday, the SEC announced it would allow firms to delay submitting their Form ADV until April 30, one month later than the original deadline.
In response to postponing the hearings, FINRA will contact parties with meetings scheduled during the period between now and May 1 to reschedule or consider remote proceedings.