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SEC Broker-Dealer Record Retention Requirements

April 20, 2005

By KirD. Behre, Jeremy Evans, Edward Griffin and Rebecca Snyder

Although SEC regulations have long required broker-dealers to retain records, recent focus on the retention of e-mail and instant messages, and a sweeping SEC examination of broker-dealers regarding this issue, have caused many broker-dealers to reconsider their electronic record retention policies and procedures. As the sidebar to this alert summarizes, SEC Rule 17a-4 requires broker-dealers to retain virtually every electronic document for certain individuals. These requirements are so technical, cumbersome and costly to implement that they can overwhelm even the most sophisticated companies.