FINRA Virtual Event Gifts, Business Entertainment, and Non-Cash Compensation FAQ
September 4th | 2020
FINRA recently published an FAQ concerning food and beverages provided by associated persons during virtual business entertainment events. FINRA Rule 3220 prohibits any member or person associated with a member, directly or indirectly, from giving anything of value in excess of $100 per year to any person where such payment is in relation to the business of the recipient's employer. The non-cash compensation rules permit business entertainment provided by “offerors” (generally product sponsors and their affiliates) to representatives of third-party broker-dealers and their guests that is not subject to the $100 limit as long as it “is neither so frequent nor so extensive as to raise any question of propriety and is not preconditioned on achievement of a sales target."
The FAQ clarifies that, where a member firm’s associated persons personally host an interactive virtual business entertainment event or meeting, FINRA would view the associated persons’ provision of reasonable amounts of food and beverage designed to be consumed by the recipient employees and their guests during that virtual business entertainment or meeting as not being subject to the $100 gift limit, provided that the cost of the food and beverage as well as the frequency with which it is provided do not raise questions of propriety. In addition, the provision of food and beverage must not be preconditioned on achieving a sales target.