In storm's aftermath, Wall Street watchdog offers industry guidance

Fri Nov 2, 2012 1:48pm EDT

Traders stand outside the New York Stock Exchange prior to the opening bell October 31, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders stand outside the New York Stock Exchange prior to the opening bell October 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Wall Street's industry-funded regulator has released guidance to clarify certain compliance and regulatory issues for Wall Street brokerages in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority posted the guidance on its website as many brokerages and the regulator itself grapple with conditions in a flood-ravaged lower Manhattan, among other issues.

FINRA, itself, cannot access its offices in lower Manhattan, where its staff processes brokerage applications.

The massive storm Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast late Sunday and into Monday, causing widespread damage, and it has left many firms in the heart of the U.S. financial center in lower Manhattan still without power on Friday.

FINRA is encouraging brokerages unaffected by Sandy to make office space available to others that have been displaced. Brokerages that relocate staff to temporary locations should use their "best efforts" to notify FINRA, in writing, of those locations, but it is not necessary to submit branch office applications for new temporary offices arising from Sandy, FINRA said in its guidance posted late Tuesday.

For brokerages unable to meet deadlines for certain regulatory filings or to respond to FINRA investigations because of power outages and difficulties with computer networks, they should request extensions, the regulator said.

Although FINRA cannot access its offices in lower Manhattan, it said it is trying to work on brokerage applications "as quickly as possible." It also said brokerages should also resubmit application materials they submitted on Monday, when Sandy made landfall along the coast of southern New Jersey, which FINRA may not have received.

More hurricane-related guidance is available on FINRA's website at: here@ip/@reg/@notice/documents/notices/p196145.pdf (Reporting By Suzanne Barlyn; Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino)

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