Almost all financial service providers in North America are licensed to sell securities and insurance products to residents of Florida. Many have opened brick and mortar facilities in Florida and learned of the state's unique "branch office" licensing requirements. Sales of securities through unlicensed Florida facilities that are "branch offices" under Florida regulations can subject firms to significant civil and criminal liability. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation recently issued a proposed new definition of "branch office."
R. Michael Underwood, counsel in Squire Sanders' Tallahassee office, is experienced with these requirements and often speaks and publishes on the subject. Recently, Mr. Underwood was selected by the Committee on State Regulation of Securities in the American Bar Association's Section of Business Law to chair a drafting committee to comment on the proposed "branch office" definition.
In the comment letter, Mr. Underwood praises the Florida Office of Financial Regulation for taking steps to make Florida's branch office licensing program generally consistent with procedures used by the NASD. Mr. Underwood believes renewal of Florida branch office licenses on the CRD system has also been helpful to the industry.