The SEC has approved amendments to FINRA Rule 1250 that permit the Regulatory Element of a broker-dealer’s continuing education program to be fulfilled through a web-based platform.  The continuing education requirements under FINRA Rule 1250 are broken up into two categories, a Firm Element and a Regulatory Element.

The Firm Element requires broker-dealers to establish a training program, in accordance with its annual Needs Analysis and Written Training Plan, to keep covered registered persons up to date on job and product related subjects.  FINRA is not making any changes to the Firm Element requirements at this time.  The Regulatory Element requires all registered persons to complete a computer-based training session that covers topics on regulatory, compliance, ethics and supervisory subjects as well as sales practice standards.  Each registered person is required to complete the Regulatory Element within 120 days after his or her second registration anniversary date and every three years thereafter.

Currently, the Regulatory Element is administered either within the firm, subject to specified procedures, or in a testing center.  The  the majority of registered persons complete the Regulatory Element in a testing center.  However, under the amendments, registered persons will fulfill the Regulatory Element through a web-based program that will be administered through FINRA’s CE Online System, and will provide registered persons with flexibility to complete the Regulatory Element at a location of their choosing, including their home (unless internal firm policies otherwise prohibit this).  FINRA is rolling out the new program in two phases.  Portions of the Regulatory Element will be online as of October 1, 2015.  The remainder will be available on January 4, 2016.

FINRA is phasing out in-firm delivery of the Regulatory Element on a rolling basis as each Regulatory Element program becomes available via the web-based platform.  Testing centers will also phase out the delivery of the Regulatory Element by no later than July 4, 2016.  A reduced fee of $55 will be charged for each participant who completes the Regulatory Element via the web-based platform, as compared to the $100 fee currently charged for in-firm and testing center delivery.