Financial firms hoping to establish operations in Florida just got a boost.
Last Friday, Gov. Rick Scott signed a measure that made the Sunshine State a so-called notice-filing state, which means that a broker or adviser's application for a branch office is instantly approved once it is filed with the state.
Florida's Office of Financial Regulation, however, can require an applicant to resolve filing deficiencies within 30 days.
Florida joins 16 other states that use the notice-filing procedure. Six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not immediately approve branch office applications. Twenty-nine other states require neither registration nor notice filing for branch offices.
Before the new law, financial advisers operating in other states who wanted to open a Florida location or a new office in Florida had to register with Florida's financial regulator — a process that took on average five days for a broker and six days for an investment adviser. Changing a broker-dealer affiliation or an office location also were subject to delays.
The new law puts the process online and makes it instantaneous. Advisers can start conducting business the moment they submit their application and a $100 filing fee. The filing must be renewed annually.
“Florida becoming a notice-filing state is critical for our industry and investors because financial advisors have been forced to close down for extended periods of times, losing revenue and denying clients access to their advice, due to their applications not being approved in a timely manner,” the Financial Services Institute Inc. said in a statement.
The organization, which represents independent broker-dealers and financial advisers, has been a primary proponent of the Florida bill.
It contends that the bottleneck in Florida created a nationwide problem for its more than 100 firm and 35,000 adviser members because so many of them do business in Florida or want to establish an outpost there.