How to Simplify Your Finra 17a-4 Compliance

Published March 8, 2023
AdvisorVault gives broker-dealers a step by step guide on how to simplify your 17a-4 FINRA compliance, especially pertaining to cloud archiving & Microsoft 365 .


As a compliance officer for a small - mid sized FINRA firm with a limited budget and no in-house IT staff, reducing tech spending while meeting the compliance demands of rule 17a-4 is a critical concern. While it may seem like a daunting task, today our experts at Advisorvault are going to walk you through this process step by step. In this article we will summarize exactly what you need to do in order to achieve your compliance targets:

The first and most pertinent step is that you need to get everyone in your firm on a complete cloud based platform. Our consolidated Microsoft 365 service is well known as  the best option for small - mid sized FINRA firms. This is because for a flat monthly fee 17a-4 compliance is guaranteed while making sure that each one of your employees gets everything they need to do their job.

This includes a full Exchange email account, company-wide data storage on SharePoint, individual data storage on OneDrive, Teams for collaboration, and a centralized web portal for managing everything.

Once everyone is on Microsoft 365, it's essential to migrate all of your data and emails to ensure that information is not stored in multiple locations, leaving gaps in your 17a-4 compliance. This consolidation is a requirement of FINRA, which mandates that electronic records and email archiving be consolidated onto a single platform to facilitate long-term archiving and retention of data for FINRA.

The second step in this process is to simplify your data compliance. To do this you must create a clear IT policy that gives clear guidelines to all employees in your firm as to what technology they can and cannot use. This is especially important when it comes to what forms your representatives use to communicate with customers. The compliance officer should sign off on this policy and it should be designed to keep data compliance costs as low as possible.

Once on Microsoft 365, representatives should only use their Microsoft email or Teams to communicate, and the firm's books and records will be stored on SharePoint or OneDrive only. This IT policy makes it clear what data needs to be retained for 17a-4 compliance, making it easier for FINRA during their 17a-4 electronic records request.

The third and final step (also the most important) is to choose a FINRA approved Designated Third Party (D3P) that will guarantee your company is complying with all FINRA regulations, especially relating to rule 17a-4. Choosing the wrong option can end with disastrous results if combined with an audit.

AdvisorVault's consolidated D3P archiving service is an excellent option for small-mid sized FINRA firms. This service archives and retains data for seven years in its original, non-modified format, providing all third party 17a-4 attestation letters when required, and ensuring your firms data is available to FINRA during an audit.

Our consolidated D3P service plugs right into the Microsoft 365 cloud and archives all employees' records on our secure systems in order to meet 17a-4 compliance. This turnkey solution incorporates:
  • All company users emails
  • Complete Outlook profiles
  • Contacts and calendars
  • Any documents saved in SharePoint and OneDrive
  • A full archive of team chats
To summarize

In order for a broker-dealer firm to keep data compliance spending as low as possible while complying with FINRA rule 17a-4,  they should follow these three simple steps:

1) Move all company data to a fully integrated cloud platform like Microsoft 365

2) Create a clear IT policy directing employees as to which platforms are mandatory for communications (Microsoft email, Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive).

3) Choose a consolidated D3P like AdvisorVault, to ensure your company is fully FINRA compliant, especially when it comes to 17a-4 cloud archiving and Microsoft 365.

AdvisorVault is one of the only FINRA D3P's with a consolidated data archiving service designed to meet FINRA's stringent data compliance regulations.
Our proprietary approach to data archiving streamlines the process of compliance, providing peace of mind for FINRA firms of all sizes. For one flat monthly fee, it is the only compliant D3P service that a FINRA firm will ever need.

Learn more and get your free consultation today at

Allan Lonz, President
direct: 416-985-0310
Toll free: 1-866-732-1407 ex 1

Follow the full story here:

PR Zen