Why Florida’s “Notice-Filing” Status is Critical

Florida-State-CapitolJust last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law legislation protecting investors’ access to independent financial advice. While this pertains to Florida, the implications are nationwide, since it affects every financial services firm with affiliated financial advisors in Florida, regardless of where the firm is headquartered.

“This law is another historic step forward for FSI members, who have united once again to affect positive change,” said Dale Brown, FSI President & CEO. “We applaud the elected officials and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation who all came together with our members to make a positive difference.”

The law, sponsored by Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77) and Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-22), makes Florida a “notice-filing state” for branch office applications. Florida becoming a notice-filing state is critical for the industry and investors because financial advisors have been forced to close down for extended periods of time while they waited for application approval, losing revenue and denying clients access to their advice. Affected scenarios of where advisors need to file or re-file include:

  1. when an advisor changes broker-dealer affiliation;
  2. when an advisor moves his current office address to another address;
  3. when a firm – operating in another state – wants to open a new branch office in Florida; or
  4. when a firm already operating in Florida opens a new branch office

Despite the fact that the approval process timeframe declined from weeks to 4-5 days, the damage it could have done to small businesses was still unacceptable. The current law places the filing system online and mandates approval be automatic, keeping the advisor working and protecting clients’ access to their advice.

After working with OFR to find common ground on the legislation language, FSI agreed to language that makes Florida a notice-filing state, but allows OFR to require BDs to resolve deficiencies in their filing within 30 days. This means that there is no downtime where the advisors must close their doors, and if there is something in the application that must be corrected, they have a reasonable amount of time to fix any issues. All in all, a positive step for our industry!

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