Among the long list of regulatory and exam issues that will be top priorities for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority this year is one that it says has been a "central failing" of broker-dealers: not putting customers' interests first, specifically when it comes to dealing with senior investors and IRA rollovers.

FINRA's regulatory and examination priorities list, released Tuesday, is long, and includes "everything but the kitchen sink," said Brian Rubin, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. Such a lengthy priorities list may make it "hard for firms to figure out what to specifically focus on," he said.

FINRA citing as a "recurring challenge" BDs' failure to put clients' interest first "sounds like the fiduciary standard," which could be FINRA's "attempt to draw a line in the sand that [it] is moving in that direction," Rubin said in an interview.

Another recurring challenge FINRA says it will address is BDs' failure to report in a timely manner "disclosable information," which includes regulatory actions, customer complaints, bankruptcy filings, liens, judgments and criminal charges.

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Melanie Waddell

Melanie is senior editor and Washington bureau chief of ThinkAdvisor. Her ThinkAdvisor coverage zeros in on how politics, policy, legislation and regulations affect the investment advisory space. Melanie’s coverage has been cited in various lawmakers’ reports, letters and bills, and in the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule in 2023. In 2019, Melanie received an Honorable Mention, Range of Work by a Single Author award from @Folio. Melanie joined Investment Advisor magazine as New York bureau chief in 2000. She has been a columnist since 2002. She started her career in Washington in 1994, covering financial issues at American Banker. Since 1997, Melanie has been covering investment-related issues, holding senior editorial positions at American Banker publications in both Washington and New York. Briefly, she was content chief for Internet Capital Group’s EFinancialWorld in New York and wrote freelance articles for Institutional Investor. Melanie holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Towson University. She interned at The Baltimore Sun and its suburban edition.