Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Chicago, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Extend the Effective Date in Interpretation and Policy .10 Under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13, 24103-24106 [2021-09437]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.18 J. Matthew DeLesDernier, Assistant Secretary. [FR Doc. 2021–09440 Filed 5–4–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8011–01–P SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION [Release No. 34–91708; File No. SR– NYSECHX–2021–09] Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Chicago, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Extend the Effective Date in Interpretation and Policy .10 Under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 April 29, 2021. Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) 1 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (‘‘Act’’ or ‘‘Exchange Act’’) 2 and Rule 19b–4 thereunder,3 notice is hereby given that on April 19, 2021, NYSE Chicago, Inc. (‘‘NYSE Chicago’’ or the ‘‘Exchange’’) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (‘‘SEC’’ or ‘‘Commission’’) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the selfregulatory organization. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons. I. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change The Exchange proposes a rule change to extend the effective date in Interpretation and Policy .10 (Temporary Extension of the Limited Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 (Registration Requirements) applicable to Participants, from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The Exchange does not anticipate providing any further extensions to the temporary relief identified in this proposed rule change beyond June 30, 2021.4 The proposed rule change is available on the Exchange’s website at www.nyse.com, at the principal office of the Exchange, and at the Commission’s Public Reference Room. 18 17 CFR 200.30–3(a)(12). U.S.C. 78s(b)(1). 2 15 U.S.C. 78a. 3 17 CFR 240.19b–4. 4 If due to unforeseen circumstances a further extension is necessary, the Exchange will submit a separate rule filing to further extend the temporary relief. 1 15 VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 II. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change In its filing with the Commission, the self-regulatory organization included statements concerning the purpose of, and basis for, the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. The Exchange has prepared summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements. A. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change 1. Purpose The Exchange proposes to extend the effective date in Interpretation and Policy .10 (Temporary Extension of the Limited Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 (Registration Requirements) applicable to Participants,5 from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The proposed rule change would extend the 120-day period that certain individuals can function as a principal without having successfully passed an appropriate qualification examination through June 30, 2021, and would apply only to those individuals who were designated to function as a principal prior to March 3, 2021. This proposed rule change is based on a filing recently submitted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (‘‘FINRA’’) 6 and is intended to harmonize the Exchange’s registration rules with those of FINRA so as to promote uniform standards across the securities industry. In response to COVID–19 global pandemic, last year FINRA began providing temporary relief by way of frequently asked questions (‘‘FAQs’’) 7 5 The term ‘‘Participant’’ means any Participant Firm that holds a valid Trading Permit and any person associated with a Participant Firm who is registered with the Exchange. A Participant shall be considered a ‘‘member’’ of the Exchange for purposes of the Exchange Act. See NYSE Chicago Article 1, Rule 1(s). 6 See Exchange Act Release No. 91506 (April 8, 2021) 86 FR 19671 (April 14, 2021) (SR–FINRA– 2021–005) (the ‘‘FINRA Filing’’). The Exchange notes that the FINRA Filing also provides temporary relief to individuals registered with FINRA as Operations Professionals under FINRA Rule 1220. The Exchange does not have a registration category for Operations Professionals and therefore, the Exchange is not proposing to adopt that aspect of the FINRA Filing. 7 See https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/keytopics/covid-19/faq#qe. PO 00000 Frm 00190 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24103 to address disruptions to the administration of FINRA qualification examinations caused by the pandemic that have significantly limited the ability of individuals to sit for examinations due to Prometric test center capacity issues.8 FINRA published the first FAQ on March 20, 2020, providing that individuals who were designated to function as principals under FINRA Rule 1210.04 9 prior to February 2, 2020, would be given until May 31, 2020, to pass the appropriate principal qualification examination.10 FINRA revised the FAQ to extend the expiration of the temporary relief to pass the appropriate principal examination until June 30, 2020, and then until August 31, 2020. On September 25, 2020, NYSE Chicago filed with the Commission a proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness to extend the temporary relief provided via the FAQ by adopting temporary Interpretation and Policy .10 (Temporary Extension of the Limited Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 (Registration Requirements).11 Pursuant to this rule filing, individuals who were designated prior to September 3, 2020, to function as a principal under Interpretation and Policy .10 of NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 had until December 31, 2020, to pass the appropriate qualification examination. The Exchange thereafter filed a proposed rule change to extend the expiration date of the temporary relief from December 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021.12 8 At the outset of the COVID–19 pandemic, all FINRA qualification examinations were administered at test centers operated by Prometric. Based on the health and welfare concerns resulting from COVID–19, in March 2020 Prometric closed all of its test centers in the United States and Canada and began to slowly reopen some of them at limited capacity in May. Currently, Prometric has resumed testing in many of its United States and Canada test centers, at either full or limited occupancy, based on local and government mandates. 9 Interpretation and Policy .03 under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 is the corresponding rule to FINRA Rule 1210.04. 10 FINRA Rule 1210.04 (Requirements for Registered Persons Functioning as Principals for a Limited Period) allows a member firm to designate certain individuals to function in a principal capacity for 120 calendar days before having to pass an appropriate principal qualification examination Interpretation and Policy .03 under NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 provides the same allowance to Participants. 11 See Exchange Act Release No. 90114 (October 7, 2020), 85 FR 64556 (October 13, 2020) (Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of SR– NYSECHX–2020–28). 12 See Exchange Act Release No. 90762 (December 21, 2020), 85 FR 85756 (December 29, 2020) (Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of SR–NYSECHX–2020–33). E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 24104 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices As mentioned in the prior filings, FINRA began providing, and then extended, temporary relief to address the interruptions in the administration of FINRA qualification examinations at Prometric test centers and the limited ability of individuals to sit for the examinations caused by the COVID–19 pandemic.13 The prior filings also noted that the pandemic could result in firms potentially experiencing significant disruptions to their normal business operations that may be exacerbated by being unable to keep principal positions filled. Specifically, the limitation of inperson activities and staff absenteeism as a result of the health and welfare concerns stemming from COVID–19 could result in firms having difficulty finding other qualified individuals to transition into that role or requiring them to reallocate employee time and resources away from other critical responsibilities at the firm. While there are signs of improvement, the COVID–19 conditions necessitating the temporary relief persist and FINRA has determined that there is a continued need for this temporary relief beyond April 30, 2021. Although Prometric has resumed testing in many of its U.S. test centers, Prometric’s safety practices mean that currently not all test centers are open, some of the open test centers are at limited capacity, and some open test centers are delivering only certain examinations that have been deemed essential by the local government.14 In addition, while certain states have started to ease COVID–19 restrictions on businesses and social activities, public health officials continue to emphasize the importance for individuals to keep taking numerous steps to protect themselves and help slow the spread of the disease.15 Although the COVID–19 conditions necessitating the temporary relief persist, in the FINRA Filing, FINRA stated that an extension of the relief is necessary only until June 30, 2021, because FINRA recently expanded the availability of online examinations. Prior to this expansion, the ongoing effects of the pandemic made it impracticable for FINRA members to ensure that the individuals who they 13 Information about the continued impact of COVID–19 on FINRA-administered examinations is available at https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/ key-topics/covid-19/exams. 14 Information from Prometric about its safety practices and the impact of COVID–19 on its operations is available at https://www.prometric. com/covid-19-update/corona-virus-update. See also supra note 13. 15 See, e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How to Protect Yourself & Others, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 had designated to function in a principal capacity, as set forth in FINRA Rule 1210.04, could successfully sit for and pass an appropriate qualification examination within the 120-calendar day period required under the rule.16 Specifically, if the individual wanted to take a qualifying examination, they were required to accept the health risks associated with taking an in-person examination because those examinations were not available online. On February 24, 2021, however, FINRA adopted an interim accommodation request process to allow candidates to take additional FINRA examinations online, including the General Securities Principal (‘‘Series 24’’) examination.17 Because the qualifying examination has been made available online only recently, FINRA is concerned that individuals who have been designated to function in a principal capacity may not have sufficient time to schedule, study for, and take the applicable examination before April 30, 2021, the date the temporary relief is set to expire. These ongoing circumstances make it impracticable for Participants to ensure that the individuals whom they have designated to function in a principal capacity, as set forth in Interpretation and Policy .03 under Article 6, Rule 13, are able to successfully sit for and pass an appropriate qualification examination within the 120-calendar day period required under the rule, or to find other qualified staff to fill this position. Therefore, NYSE Chicago is proposing to extend the effective date of the temporary relief provided through SR–NYSECHX–2020–33 until June 30, 2021. The proposed rule change would apply only to those individuals who were designated to function as a principal prior to March 3, 2021. Any individuals designated to function as a principal on or after March 3, 2021, would need to successfully pass an appropriate qualification examination within 120 days. NYSE Chicago believes that this proposed continued extension of time is tailored to address the needs and constraints on a Participant’s operations during the COVID–19 pandemic, without significantly compromising critical investor protection. The proposed extension of time will help to minimize the impact of COVID–19 on Participants by providing continued flexibility so that Participants can ensure that principal positions remain filled. The potential risks from the proposed extension of the 120-day period are mitigated by the Participant’s 16 See supra note 13. Frm 00191 2. Statutory Basis The proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b) of the Exchange Act,18 in general, and furthers the objectives of Section 6(b)(5),19 in particular, because it is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in facilitating transactions in securities, to remove impediments to, and perfect the mechanism of, a free and open market and a national market system and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The proposed rule change is intended to minimize the impact of COVID–19 on Participants’ operations by extending the 120-day period certain individuals may function as a principal without having successfully passed an appropriate qualification examination under Interpretation and Policy .03 under Article 6, Rule 13 until June 30, 2021. The proposed rule change does not relieve Participants from maintaining, under the circumstances, a reasonably designed system to supervise the activities of their associated persons to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, and with applicable NYSE Chicago rules that directly serve investor protection. In a time when faced with unique challenges resulting from the COVID–19 pandemic, NYSE Chicago believes that the proposed rule change is a sensible accommodation that will continue to afford Participants the ability to ensure that critical positions are filled and client services maintained, while continuing to serve and promote the protection of investors and the public interest in this unique environment. B. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement on Burden on Competition The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition that is not 18 15 17 Id. PO 00000 continued requirement to supervise the activities of these designated individuals and ensure compliance with federal securities laws and regulations, as well as NYSE Chicago rules. NYSE Chicago has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness and has requested that the Commission waive the requirement that the proposed rule change not become operative for 30 days after the date of the filing, so NYSE Chicago can implement the proposed rule change immediately. 19 15 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM U.S.C. 78f(b). U.S.C. 78f(b)(5). 05MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Exchange Act. As set forth in the prior filings, the proposed rule change is intended solely to extend temporary relief necessitated by the continued impacts of the COVID– 19 pandemic and the related health and safety risks of conducting in-person activities. In its filing, FINRA noted that the proposed rule change is necessary to temporarily rebalance the attendant benefits and costs of the obligations under FINRA Rule 1210 in response to the impacts of the COVID–19 pandemic that would otherwise result if the temporary relief was to expire on April 30, 2021. The Exchange accordingly incorporates FINRA’s abbreviated economic impact assessment by reference. C. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants, or Others No written comments were solicited or received with respect to the proposed rule change. III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action Because the foregoing proposed rule change does not: (i) Significantly affect the protection of investors or the public interest; (ii) impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) become operative for 30 days from the date on which it was filed, or such shorter time as the Commission may designate, it has become effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act 20 and Rule 19b– 4(f)(6) thereunder.21 A proposed rule change filed under Rule 19b–4(f)(6) normally does not become operative for 30 days after the date of filing. However, pursuant to Rule 19b–4(f)(6)(iii), the Commission may designate a shorter time if such action is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest. The Exchange has asked the Commission to waive the 30-day operative delay so that the proposed rule change may become operative immediately upon filing. As noted above, the Exchange stated that the conditions necessitating the temporary relief continue to exist and the proposed extension of time will help minimize the impact of the COVID–19 20 15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3)(A). CFR 240.19b–4(f)(6). In addition, Rule 19b– 4(f)(6)(iii) requires a self-regulatory organization to give the Commission written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change, along with a brief description and text of the proposed rule change, at least five business days prior to the date of filing of the proposed rule change, or such shorter time as designated by the Commission. The Exchange has satisfied this requirement. 21 17 VerDate Sep<11>2014 23:06 May 04, 2021 Jkt 253001 outbreak on NYSE Chicago Participants’ operations by allowing them to keep principal positions filled and minimizing disruptions to client services and other critical responsibilities. Despite signs of improvement, the Exchange further stated that the ongoing extenuating circumstances of the COVID–19 pandemic make it impractical to ensure that individuals designated to act in these capacities are able to take and pass the appropriate qualification examination during the 120-calendar day period required under the rules. The Exchange observed that, following a nationwide closure of all test centers earlier in the year, some test centers have re-opened, but are operating at limited capacity or are only delivering certain examinations that have been deemed essential by the local government.22 However, on February 24, 2021, FINRA began providing the General Securities Principal (Series 24) Examination online through an interim accommodation request process.23 Prior to this change, if individuals wanted to take these qualifying examinations, they were required to accept the health risks associated with taking an in-person examination. Even with the expansion of online qualifications examinations, the Exchange stated that extending the expiration date of the relief set forth in SR–NYSECHX–2020–33 until June 30, 2021 is still needed. The Exchange stated that this temporary relief will provide flexibility to allow individuals who have been designated to function in a principal sufficient time to schedule, study for and take the applicable examination before the temporary relief expires. Notably, the Exchange stated that it does not anticipate providing any further extensions to the temporary amendments and that any individuals designated to function as a principal on or after March 3, 2021 will need to successfully pass an appropriate qualification examination within 120 days. For these reasons, the Commission believes that waiver of the 30-day operative delay is consistent with the protection of investors and the public interest.24 Accordingly, the Commission 22 See supra notes 13 and 14. The Exchange notes that Prometric has also had to close some reopened test centers due to incidents of COVID–19 cases. 23 See supra note 13 (including the February 24, 2021 announcement of the interim accommodation process for candidates to take certain examinations, including the General Securities Principal (Series 24) Examination, online.) 24 As noted above by the Exchange, this proposal is an extension of temporary relief provided in SR– NYSECHX–2020–28 and SR–NYSECHX–2020–33 where the Exchange also requested and the Commission granted a waiver of the 30-day PO 00000 Frm 00192 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 24105 hereby waives the 30-day operative delay and designates the proposal operative upon filing.25 At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule change, the Commission summarily may temporarily suspend such rule change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. If the Commission takes such action, the Commission shall institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule should be approved or disapproved. IV. Solicitation of Comments Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods: Electronic Comments • Use the Commission’s internet comment form (http://www.sec.gov/ rules/sro.shtml); or • Send an email to rule-comments@ sec.gov. Please include File Number SR– NYSECHX–2021–09 on the subject line. Paper Comments • Send paper comments in triplicate to Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549–1090. All submissions should refer to File Number SR–NYSECHX–2021–09. This file number should be included on the subject line if email is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission’s internet website (http://www.sec.gov/ rules/sro.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for website viewing and operative delay. See SR–NYSECHX–2020–28, 85 FR at 64558 and SR–NYSECHX–2020–33, 85 FR at 85758. 25 For purposes only of waiving the 30-day operative delay, the Commission has considered the proposed rule change’s impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. See 15 U.S.C. 78c(f). E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1 24106 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 85 / Wednesday, May 5, 2021 / Notices printing in the Commission’s Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change. Persons submitting comments are cautioned that we do not redact or edit personal identifying information from comment submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR–NYSECHX–2021–09 and should be submitted on or before May 26, 2021. For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.26 J. Matthew DeLesDernier, Assistant Secretary. [FR Doc. 2021–09437 Filed 5–4–21; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8011–01–P SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION [Release No. 34–91703; File No. SR–MIAX– 2021–13] Self-Regulatory Organizations; Miami International Securities Exchange, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Interpretation and Policy .13 (Temporary Extension of the Limited Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) To Exchange Rule 1900, Registration Requirements, To Extend the Expiration Date of the Temporary Amendment Set Forth in SR–MIAX– 2020–42 from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021 April 29, 2021. Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (‘‘Act’’ or ‘‘Exchange Act’’) 1 and Rule 19b–4 thereunder,2 notice is hereby given that on April 21, 2021, Miami International Securities Exchange, LLC (‘‘MIAX’’ or the ‘‘Exchange’’) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (‘‘SEC’’ or ‘‘Commission’’) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been substantially prepared by the selfregulatory organization. The Commission is publishing this notice to 26 17 CFR 200.30–3(a)(12). U.S.C. 78s(b)(1). 2 17 CFR 240.19b–4. 23:06 May 04, 2021 I. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change The Exchange is filing a proposal to amend Interpretation and Policy .13 (Temporary Extension of the Limited Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) to Exchange Rule 1900, Registration Requirements, to extend the expiration date of the temporary amendment set forth in SR– MIAX–2020–42 from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The Exchange does not anticipate providing any further extensions to the temporary amendment identified in this proposed rule change beyond June 30, 2021. The text of the proposed rule change is available on the Exchange’s website at http://www.miaxoptions.com/rulefilings/, at MIAX’s principal office, and at the Commission’s Public Reference Room. II. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change In its filing with the Commission, the Exchange included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in Item IV below. The Exchange has prepared summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements. A. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change 1. Purpose The Exchange proposes to amend Interpretation and Policy .13 (Temporary Extension of the Limited Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) to Exchange Rule 1900, Registration Requirements, to extend the expiration date of the temporary amendment set forth in SR– MIAX–2020–42 from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The proposed rule change would extend the 120-day period that certain individuals can function as principals without having successfully passed an appropriate qualification examination through June 30, 2021,3 and would apply only to 3 See Exchange Act Release No. 91506 (April 8, 2021) 86 FR 19671 (April 14, 2021) (SR–FINRA– 2021–005) (the ‘‘FINRA Filing’’). The Exchange 1 15 VerDate Sep<11>2014 solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons. Jkt 253001 PO 00000 Frm 00193 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 those individuals who were designated to function as principals prior to March 3, 2021. This proposed rule change is based on a filing recently submitted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (‘‘FINRA’’) 4 and is intended to harmonize the Exchange’s registration rules with those of FINRA so as to promote uniform standards across the securities industry. In response to the COVID–19 global pandemic, last year FINRA began providing temporary relief by way of frequently asked questions (‘‘FAQs’’) 5 to address disruptions to the administration of FINRA qualification examinations caused by the pandemic that have significantly limited the ability of individuals to sit for examinations due to Prometric test center capacity issues.6 FINRA published the first FAQ on March 20, 2020, providing that individuals who were designated to function as principals under FINRA Rule 1210.04 7 prior to February 2, 2020, would be given until May 31, 2020, to pass the appropriate principal qualification examination.8 On May 19, 2020, FINRA extended the relief to pass the appropriate examination until June 30, 2020. On June 29, 2020, FINRA again extended the temporary relief providing that individuals who were designated to function as principals under FINRA Rule 1210.04 prior to May 4, 2020, would be given until August 31, notes that the FINRA Filing also provides temporarily relief to individuals registered with FINRA as Operations Professionals under FINRA Rule 1220. The Exchange does not have a registration category for Operations Professionals and therefore, the Exchange is not proposing to adopt that aspect of the FINRA Filing. If the Exchange seeks to provide additional temporary relief from the rule requirement identified in this proposal beyond June 30, 2021, it will submit a separate rule filing to further extend the temporary extension of time. 4 See id. 5 See https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/keytopics/covid-19/faq#qe. 6 At the outset of the COVID–19 pandemic, all FINRA qualification examinations were administered at test centers operated by Prometric. Based on the health and welfare concerns resulting from COVID–19, in March 2020 Prometric closed all of its test centers in the United States and Canada and began to slowly reopen some of them at limited capacity in May. Currently, Prometric has resumed testing in many of its United States and Canada test centers, at either full or limited occupancy, based on local and government mandates. 7 Exchange Rule 1900, Interpretation and Policy .04, is the corresponding rule to FINRA Rule 1210.04. 8 FINRA Rule 1210.04 (Requirements for Registered Persons Functioning as Principals for a Limited Period) allows a FINRA-member firm to designate certain individuals to function in a principal capacity for 120 calendar days before having to pass an appropriate principal qualification examination. Exchange Rule 1900, Interpretation and Policy .04, provides the same allowance to Exchange Members. E:\FR\FM\05MYN1.SGM 05MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 85 (Wednesday, May 5, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 24103-24106]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-09437]


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SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

[Release No. 34-91708; File No. SR-NYSECHX-2021-09]


Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Chicago, Inc.; Notice of 
Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Extend 
the Effective Date in Interpretation and Policy .10 Under NYSE Chicago 
Article 6, Rule 13

April 29, 2021.
    Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) \1\ of the Securities Exchange Act of 
1934 (``Act'' or ``Exchange Act'') \2\ and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,\3\ 
notice is hereby given that on April 19, 2021, NYSE Chicago, Inc. 
(``NYSE Chicago'' or the ``Exchange'') filed with the Securities and 
Exchange Commission (``SEC'' or ``Commission'') the proposed rule 
change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been 
prepared by the self-regulatory organization. The Commission is 
publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change 
from interested persons.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ 15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(1).
    \2\ 15 U.S.C. 78a.
    \3\ 17 CFR 240.19b-4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance 
of the Proposed Rule Change

    The Exchange proposes a rule change to extend the effective date in 
Interpretation and Policy .10 (Temporary Extension of the Limited 
Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) under NYSE 
Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 (Registration Requirements) applicable to 
Participants, from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The Exchange does 
not anticipate providing any further extensions to the temporary relief 
identified in this proposed rule change beyond June 30, 2021.\4\ The 
proposed rule change is available on the Exchange's website at 
www.nyse.com, at the principal office of the Exchange, and at the 
Commission's Public Reference Room.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ If due to unforeseen circumstances a further extension is 
necessary, the Exchange will submit a separate rule filing to 
further extend the temporary relief.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and 
Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

    In its filing with the Commission, the self-regulatory organization 
included statements concerning the purpose of, and basis for, the 
proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the 
proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at 
the places specified in Item IV below. The Exchange has prepared 
summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most 
significant aspects of such statements.

A. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and 
Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Purpose
    The Exchange proposes to extend the effective date in 
Interpretation and Policy .10 (Temporary Extension of the Limited 
Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) under NYSE 
Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 (Registration Requirements) applicable to 
Participants,\5\ from April 30, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The proposed 
rule change would extend the 120-day period that certain individuals 
can function as a principal without having successfully passed an 
appropriate qualification examination through June 30, 2021, and would 
apply only to those individuals who were designated to function as a 
principal prior to March 3, 2021. This proposed rule change is based on 
a filing recently submitted by the Financial Industry Regulatory 
Authority, Inc. (``FINRA'') \6\ and is intended to harmonize the 
Exchange's registration rules with those of FINRA so as to promote 
uniform standards across the securities industry.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ The term ``Participant'' means any Participant Firm that 
holds a valid Trading Permit and any person associated with a 
Participant Firm who is registered with the Exchange. A Participant 
shall be considered a ``member'' of the Exchange for purposes of the 
Exchange Act. See NYSE Chicago Article 1, Rule 1(s).
    \6\ See Exchange Act Release No. 91506 (April 8, 2021) 86 FR 
19671 (April 14, 2021) (SR-FINRA-2021-005) (the ``FINRA Filing''). 
The Exchange notes that the FINRA Filing also provides temporary 
relief to individuals registered with FINRA as Operations 
Professionals under FINRA Rule 1220. The Exchange does not have a 
registration category for Operations Professionals and therefore, 
the Exchange is not proposing to adopt that aspect of the FINRA 
Filing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response to COVID-19 global pandemic, last year FINRA began 
providing temporary relief by way of frequently asked questions 
(``FAQs'') \7\ to address disruptions to the administration of FINRA 
qualification examinations caused by the pandemic that have 
significantly limited the ability of individuals to sit for 
examinations due to Prometric test center capacity issues.\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ See https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/key-topics/covid-19/faq#qe.
    \8\ At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all FINRA 
qualification examinations were administered at test centers 
operated by Prometric. Based on the health and welfare concerns 
resulting from COVID-19, in March 2020 Prometric closed all of its 
test centers in the United States and Canada and began to slowly 
reopen some of them at limited capacity in May. Currently, Prometric 
has resumed testing in many of its United States and Canada test 
centers, at either full or limited occupancy, based on local and 
government mandates.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    FINRA published the first FAQ on March 20, 2020, providing that 
individuals who were designated to function as principals under FINRA 
Rule 1210.04 \9\ prior to February 2, 2020, would be given until May 
31, 2020, to pass the appropriate principal qualification 
examination.\10\ FINRA revised the FAQ to extend the expiration of the 
temporary relief to pass the appropriate principal examination until 
June 30, 2020, and then until August 31, 2020.
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    \9\ Interpretation and Policy .03 under NYSE Chicago Article 6, 
Rule 13 is the corresponding rule to FINRA Rule 1210.04.
    \10\ FINRA Rule 1210.04 (Requirements for Registered Persons 
Functioning as Principals for a Limited Period) allows a member firm 
to designate certain individuals to function in a principal capacity 
for 120 calendar days before having to pass an appropriate principal 
qualification examination Interpretation and Policy .03 under NYSE 
Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 provides the same allowance to 
Participants.
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    On September 25, 2020, NYSE Chicago filed with the Commission a 
proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness to extend the 
temporary relief provided via the FAQ by adopting temporary 
Interpretation and Policy .10 (Temporary Extension of the Limited 
Period for Registered Persons to Function as Principals) under NYSE 
Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 (Registration Requirements).\11\ Pursuant to 
this rule filing, individuals who were designated prior to September 3, 
2020, to function as a principal under Interpretation and Policy .10 of 
NYSE Chicago Article 6, Rule 13 had until December 31, 2020, to pass 
the appropriate qualification examination. The Exchange thereafter 
filed a proposed rule change to extend the expiration date of the 
temporary relief from December 31, 2020, to April 30, 2021.\12\
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    \11\ See Exchange Act Release No. 90114 (October 7, 2020), 85 FR 
64556 (October 13, 2020) (Notice of Filing and Immediate 
Effectiveness of SR-NYSECHX-2020-28).
    \12\ See Exchange Act Release No. 90762 (December 21, 2020), 85 
FR 85756 (December 29, 2020) (Notice of Filing and Immediate 
Effectiveness of SR-NYSECHX-2020-33).

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[[Page 24104]]

    As mentioned in the prior filings, FINRA began providing, and then 
extended, temporary relief to address the interruptions in the 
administration of FINRA qualification examinations at Prometric test 
centers and the limited ability of individuals to sit for the 
examinations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.\13\ The prior filings 
also noted that the pandemic could result in firms potentially 
experiencing significant disruptions to their normal business 
operations that may be exacerbated by being unable to keep principal 
positions filled. Specifically, the limitation of in-person activities 
and staff absenteeism as a result of the health and welfare concerns 
stemming from COVID-19 could result in firms having difficulty finding 
other qualified individuals to transition into that role or requiring 
them to reallocate employee time and resources away from other critical 
responsibilities at the firm.
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    \13\ Information about the continued impact of COVID-19 on 
FINRA-administered examinations is available at https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/key-topics/covid-19/exams.
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    While there are signs of improvement, the COVID-19 conditions 
necessitating the temporary relief persist and FINRA has determined 
that there is a continued need for this temporary relief beyond April 
30, 2021. Although Prometric has resumed testing in many of its U.S. 
test centers, Prometric's safety practices mean that currently not all 
test centers are open, some of the open test centers are at limited 
capacity, and some open test centers are delivering only certain 
examinations that have been deemed essential by the local 
government.\14\ In addition, while certain states have started to ease 
COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and social activities, public 
health officials continue to emphasize the importance for individuals 
to keep taking numerous steps to protect themselves and help slow the 
spread of the disease.\15\
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    \14\ Information from Prometric about its safety practices and 
the impact of COVID-19 on its operations is available at https://www.prometric.com/covid-19-update/corona-virus-update. See also 
supra note 13.
    \15\ See, e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, How 
to Protect Yourself & Others, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.
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    Although the COVID-19 conditions necessitating the temporary relief 
persist, in the FINRA Filing, FINRA stated that an extension of the 
relief is necessary only until June 30, 2021, because FINRA recently 
expanded the availability of online examinations. Prior to this 
expansion, the ongoing effects of the pandemic made it impracticable 
for FINRA members to ensure that the individuals who they had 
designated to function in a principal capacity, as set forth in FINRA 
Rule 1210.04, could successfully sit for and pass an appropriate 
qualification examination within the 120-calendar day period required 
under the rule.\16\ Specifically, if the individual wanted to take a 
qualifying examination, they were required to accept the health risks 
associated with taking an in-person examination because those 
examinations were not available online. On February 24, 2021, however, 
FINRA adopted an interim accommodation request process to allow 
candidates to take additional FINRA examinations online, including the 
General Securities Principal (``Series 24'') examination.\17\ Because 
the qualifying examination has been made available online only 
recently, FINRA is concerned that individuals who have been designated 
to function in a principal capacity may not have sufficient time to 
schedule, study for, and take the applicable examination before April 
30, 2021, the date the temporary relief is set to expire.
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    \16\ See supra note 13.
    \17\ Id.
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    These ongoing circumstances make it impracticable for Participants 
to ensure that the individuals whom they have designated to function in 
a principal capacity, as set forth in Interpretation and Policy .03 
under Article 6, Rule 13, are able to successfully sit for and pass an 
appropriate qualification examination within the 120-calendar day 
period required under the rule, or to find other qualified staff to 
fill this position. Therefore, NYSE Chicago is proposing to extend the 
effective date of the temporary relief provided through SR-NYSECHX-
2020-33 until June 30, 2021. The proposed rule change would apply only 
to those individuals who were designated to function as a principal 
prior to March 3, 2021. Any individuals designated to function as a 
principal on or after March 3, 2021, would need to successfully pass an 
appropriate qualification examination within 120 days.
    NYSE Chicago believes that this proposed continued extension of 
time is tailored to address the needs and constraints on a 
Participant's operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, without 
significantly compromising critical investor protection. The proposed 
extension of time will help to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on 
Participants by providing continued flexibility so that Participants 
can ensure that principal positions remain filled. The potential risks 
from the proposed extension of the 120-day period are mitigated by the 
Participant's continued requirement to supervise the activities of 
these designated individuals and ensure compliance with federal 
securities laws and regulations, as well as NYSE Chicago rules. NYSE 
Chicago has filed the proposed rule change for immediate effectiveness 
and has requested that the Commission waive the requirement that the 
proposed rule change not become operative for 30 days after the date of 
the filing, so NYSE Chicago can implement the proposed rule change 
immediately.
2. Statutory Basis
    The proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b) of the 
Exchange Act,\18\ in general, and furthers the objectives of Section 
6(b)(5),\19\ in particular, because it is designed to prevent 
fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and 
equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination 
with persons engaged in facilitating transactions in securities, to 
remove impediments to, and perfect the mechanism of, a free and open 
market and a national market system and, in general, to protect 
investors and the public interest.
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    \18\ 15 U.S.C. 78f(b).
    \19\ 15 U.S.C. 78f(b)(5).
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    The proposed rule change is intended to minimize the impact of 
COVID-19 on Participants' operations by extending the 120-day period 
certain individuals may function as a principal without having 
successfully passed an appropriate qualification examination under 
Interpretation and Policy .03 under Article 6, Rule 13 until June 30, 
2021. The proposed rule change does not relieve Participants from 
maintaining, under the circumstances, a reasonably designed system to 
supervise the activities of their associated persons to achieve 
compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, and with 
applicable NYSE Chicago rules that directly serve investor protection. 
In a time when faced with unique challenges resulting from the COVID-19 
pandemic, NYSE Chicago believes that the proposed rule change is a 
sensible accommodation that will continue to afford Participants the 
ability to ensure that critical positions are filled and client 
services maintained, while continuing to serve and promote the 
protection of investors and the public interest in this unique 
environment.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

    The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will 
impose any burden on competition that is not

[[Page 24105]]

necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Exchange 
Act. As set forth in the prior filings, the proposed rule change is 
intended solely to extend temporary relief necessitated by the 
continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related health and 
safety risks of conducting in-person activities. In its filing, FINRA 
noted that the proposed rule change is necessary to temporarily 
rebalance the attendant benefits and costs of the obligations under 
FINRA Rule 1210 in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic 
that would otherwise result if the temporary relief was to expire on 
April 30, 2021. The Exchange accordingly incorporates FINRA's 
abbreviated economic impact assessment by reference.

C. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed 
Rule Change Received From Members, Participants, or Others

    No written comments were solicited or received with respect to the 
proposed rule change.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for 
Commission Action

    Because the foregoing proposed rule change does not: (i) 
Significantly affect the protection of investors or the public 
interest; (ii) impose any significant burden on competition; and (iii) 
become operative for 30 days from the date on which it was filed, or 
such shorter time as the Commission may designate, it has become 
effective pursuant to Section 19(b)(3)(A) of the Act \20\ and Rule 19b-
4(f)(6) thereunder.\21\
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    \20\ 15 U.S.C. 78s(b)(3)(A).
    \21\ 17 CFR 240.19b-4(f)(6). In addition, Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii) 
requires a self-regulatory organization to give the Commission 
written notice of its intent to file the proposed rule change, along 
with a brief description and text of the proposed rule change, at 
least five business days prior to the date of filing of the proposed 
rule change, or such shorter time as designated by the Commission. 
The Exchange has satisfied this requirement.
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    A proposed rule change filed under Rule 19b-4(f)(6) normally does 
not become operative for 30 days after the date of filing. However, 
pursuant to Rule 19b-4(f)(6)(iii), the Commission may designate a 
shorter time if such action is consistent with the protection of 
investors and the public interest. The Exchange has asked the 
Commission to waive the 30-day operative delay so that the proposed 
rule change may become operative immediately upon filing. As noted 
above, the Exchange stated that the conditions necessitating the 
temporary relief continue to exist and the proposed extension of time 
will help minimize the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on NYSE Chicago 
Participants' operations by allowing them to keep principal positions 
filled and minimizing disruptions to client services and other critical 
responsibilities. Despite signs of improvement, the Exchange further 
stated that the ongoing extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 
pandemic make it impractical to ensure that individuals designated to 
act in these capacities are able to take and pass the appropriate 
qualification examination during the 120-calendar day period required 
under the rules.
    The Exchange observed that, following a nationwide closure of all 
test centers earlier in the year, some test centers have re-opened, but 
are operating at limited capacity or are only delivering certain 
examinations that have been deemed essential by the local 
government.\22\ However, on February 24, 2021, FINRA began providing 
the General Securities Principal (Series 24) Examination online through 
an interim accommodation request process.\23\ Prior to this change, if 
individuals wanted to take these qualifying examinations, they were 
required to accept the health risks associated with taking an in-person 
examination. Even with the expansion of online qualifications 
examinations, the Exchange stated that extending the expiration date of 
the relief set forth in SR-NYSECHX-2020-33 until June 30, 2021 is still 
needed. The Exchange stated that this temporary relief will provide 
flexibility to allow individuals who have been designated to function 
in a principal sufficient time to schedule, study for and take the 
applicable examination before the temporary relief expires. Notably, 
the Exchange stated that it does not anticipate providing any further 
extensions to the temporary amendments and that any individuals 
designated to function as a principal on or after March 3, 2021 will 
need to successfully pass an appropriate qualification examination 
within 120 days.
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    \22\ See supra notes 13 and 14. The Exchange notes that 
Prometric has also had to close some reopened test centers due to 
incidents of COVID-19 cases.
    \23\ See supra note 13 (including the February 24, 2021 
announcement of the interim accommodation process for candidates to 
take certain examinations, including the General Securities 
Principal (Series 24) Examination, online.)
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    For these reasons, the Commission believes that waiver of the 30-
day operative delay is consistent with the protection of investors and 
the public interest.\24\ Accordingly, the Commission hereby waives the 
30-day operative delay and designates the proposal operative upon 
filing.\25\
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    \24\ As noted above by the Exchange, this proposal is an 
extension of temporary relief provided in SR-NYSECHX-2020-28 and SR-
NYSECHX-2020-33 where the Exchange also requested and the Commission 
granted a waiver of the 30-day operative delay. See SR-NYSECHX-2020-
28, 85 FR at 64558 and SR-NYSECHX-2020-33, 85 FR at 85758.
    \25\ For purposes only of waiving the 30-day operative delay, 
the Commission has considered the proposed rule change's impact on 
efficiency, competition, and capital formation. See 15 U.S.C. 
78c(f).
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    At any time within 60 days of the filing of the proposed rule 
change, the Commission summarily may temporarily suspend such rule 
change if it appears to the Commission that such action is necessary or 
appropriate in the public interest, for the protection of investors, or 
otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. If the Commission 
takes such action, the Commission shall institute proceedings to 
determine whether the proposed rule should be approved or disapproved.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

    Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views and 
arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule 
change is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of 
the following methods:

Electronic Comments

     Use the Commission's internet comment form (http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro.shtml); or
     Send an email to [email protected]. Please include 
File Number SR-NYSECHX-2021-09 on the subject line.

Paper Comments

     Send paper comments in triplicate to Secretary, Securities 
and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549-1090.

All submissions should refer to File Number SR-NYSECHX-2021-09. This 
file number should be included on the subject line if email is used. To 
help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, 
please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on 
the Commission's internet website (http://www.sec.gov/rules/sro.shtml). 
Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written 
statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with 
the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed 
rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those 
that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions 
of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for website viewing and

[[Page 24106]]

printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NE, 
Washington, DC 20549, on official business days between the hours of 
10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available 
for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. All 
comments received will be posted without change. Persons submitting 
comments are cautioned that we do not redact or edit personal 
identifying information from comment submissions. You should submit 
only information that you wish to make available publicly. All 
submissions should refer to File Number SR-NYSECHX-2021-09 and should 
be submitted on or before May 26, 2021.

    For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, 
pursuant to delegated authority.\26\
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    \26\ 17 CFR 200.30-3(a)(12).
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J. Matthew DeLesDernier,
Assistant Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2021-09437 Filed 5-4-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P