Robert A. Fortino, Managing Partner
The SDDco Group is an accounting and regulatory compliance consulting company dedicated to the financial services industry. A key accounting service is assuming the role of designated Financial Operations Principal (“FinOp”) for a FINRA member. However, the firm provides broker-dealer, investment advisor, and private equity clients with solutions for all of their accounting and compliance needs.
Some companies offer accounting and FinOp services and others offer regulatory compliance services, but not both. Robert A. Fortino, Managing Partner of SDDco Group says, “Other providers handle segments of what the SDDco Group does, but not the complete set of services. With our model, we can provide synergistic services in a hands-on manner that other competitors cannot.”
The SDDco Group is also able to provide a high level of service as a result of their all-star team of experts. Every member is an authority in the field in which they provide service. To ensure an extraordinary level of service, the SDDco Group hires professionals with the highest degree of expertise in their respective fields. The accounting and FinOp professionals are all full-time, degreed accountants, most are Certified Public Accountants and Series 27 licensed. In the firm’s Compliance Division, most of the professionals are Series 7 and 24 licensed with decades of experience. Some were formerly employed at FINRA or as a Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”) for a financial services firm. Additionally, when a client hires the SDDco Group, they benefit from the talent and expertise of the entire firm rather than that of an individual practitioner more limited in scope and resources. Also, the Firm adheres to the strict ethical guidelines that govern Certified Public Accountants.
Another key factor that distinguishes the SDDco Group from their contemporaries is their emphasis on personally engaging with their clients. Whenever possible, services are provided on site whereby their personnel can interact directly with the client.
Also, when an SDDco Group professional is licensed at a client, it enhances accountability since that professional is then considered a principal of the client and shares responsibility from a regulatory perspective. Therefore, the act of licensing incentivizes SDDco Group’s professionals to go beyond the basic client-consultant relationship. Though not a full-time employee of the client, the SDDco professional becomes an integral member of the client’s team.
To provide a holistic approach to servicing a financial services client, the SDDco Group provides four primary services.
Accounting and FinOp Service: the professionals in the accounting and FinOp division work with the client to close the books every month. The firm works with the client’s internal team and goes through a detailed view of their books and records to ensure the financial reports are completed in accordance with U.S. GAAP, a regulatory requirement. They then prepare regulatory reports and meet with the client for review and sign-off.
Regulatory Compliance Service: This group assists broker dealers in the new member application (“NMA”) process to become a member of FINRA. The firm works with the client to properly complete their membership application, assist in responding to questions during the NMA process, and prepares the client for their FINRA required interview. Once the application is approved and the broker-dealer is a FINRA member, SDDco can also provide ongoing compliance support. "This can be in the form of compliance support to your inhouse CCO or acting as your designated CCO," says Robert. Some of the aspects of this ongoing compliance support are; updating written supervisory procedures, advising on rule changes and delivering the client’s annual compliance training. For their investment advisory clients, the firm can prepare and maintain form ADV as well as provide similar solutions for ongoing compliance as they do for broker-dealers.
Tax Service: The firm’s tax department handles the tax planning and tax filings of the client businesses, their owners and officers.
Lastly, the SDDco Group has its own broker-dealer. This service was established to help client’s transition from initiating an application for FINRA membership to operating their own registered broker- dealer. During this interim period, the client is able to conduct business under SDDco’s supervision through their broker-dealer.
SDDco currently operates offices in New York, Boston and Miami and plans to extend their footprint by having a physical presence on the west coast in the upcoming months. The firm is taking this step so that it can provide its onsite personalized model to a growing list of west coast clients. As Mr. Fortino says, “By being physically present at the clients, wherever possible, allows us to know our client’s businesses as well as we do, and provide the services they need.”