SEC Rule 17a-4 is part of the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934 which outlines requirements for data retention, indexing, and accessibility for companies which deal in the trade or brokering of financial securities such as stocks, bonds, and futures. According to the rule, records of numerous types of transactions must be retained and indexed on indelible media with immediate accessibility for a period of six months, and with non-immediate access for a period of at least two years. Duplicate records must also be kept within the same time frame at an off-site location.
Records to be preserved include:
- All check books, bank statements, canceled checks and cash reconciliations.
- All bills receivable or payable (or copies thereof), paid or unpaid, relating to the business of such member, broker or dealer, as such.
- Originals of all communications received and copies of all communications sent (and any approvals thereof) by the member, broker or dealer (including inter-office memoranda and communications) relating to its business as such, including all communications which are subject to rules of a self-regulatory organization of which the member, broker or dealer is a member regarding communications with the public. As used in this paragraph, the term communications includes sales scripts.
- All trial balances, computations of aggregate indebtedness and net capital (and working papers in connection therewith), financial statements, branch office reconciliations, and internal audit working papers, relating to the business of such member, broker or dealer, as such.
Rule 17a-4 outlines the technical requirements for corporate data retention and adherence to such regulations is no longer the burden of just financial institutions. Today there are many regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, energy, manufacturing and healthcare that also need to manage their information for security, compliance and governance reasons.