Wall Street’s Five-Day Office Rules Aren’t Our Fault, Watchdog Finra Says

 As Wall Street bosses warn employees that regulatory changes are about to end their days of working from home, the watchdog in charge has a blunt message: Stop blaming us.

“There is no rule requiring registered persons to work from an office five days a week,” said Kayte Toczylowski, head of member relations and education at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

A slate of Finra rule changes set to take effect in coming weeks is meant to preserve workplace flexibility, Toczylowski said. She was responding to reports that more firms, such as Barclays Plc, are weighing full-time office mandates, with some bosses pointing to Finra in conversations with staff.

“The Finra rules are actually intended to give firms more flexibility, not less, and to allow registered folks to work from their homes,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

The issue is one of perspective: Financial regulators loosened rules at the start of the pandemic for monitoring brokers, traders, and other staff as legions of people began working remotely. Now Finra is preparing to sunset some of those accommodations while rolling out a regime for monitoring home offices.

The changes mean the industry will have to take some steps, such as listing some residential offices in regulatory records. Firms might conclude the various hurdles aren’t worth it and summon affected employees back full-time.

Finra, for its own part, is open to remote work and doesn’t have a blanket mandate requiring all staff to commute daily.

In recent months, firms under its jurisdiction have been assessing where their workers log on, asking the watchdog questions, and deciding how to navigate the changes, Toczylowski said.

“I understand this is a time-consuming exercise,” she said. But, if regulated firms want to keep letting staff work at home, they can, so long as they comply with the rules.

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