Pandemic Remote Branch Reviews
EE deployed its national branch examiner network to alleviate the burden of overwhelmed broker-dealer compliance staffs. At the start of the pandemic, as Finra sat silently on whether broker-dealers were required to conduct on-site branch exams, EE initially recommended a hybrid remote/on-site approach for its clients, then shifted to a completely remote exam model. When Finra announced that 2020 exams had to be completed by March 2021, firms were challenged to complete hundreds of branch exams in a compressed timeframe. EE worked with its clients to implement a FINRA-compliant, cloud-based document storage system for reps to upload their documents for examination. Reps typically interviewed in-person for compliance questionnaires instead met with examiners by phone or Zoom, and exams were supplemented with video and digital imagery.