Long Habit LLC dba Better Tomorrow Financial’s Investment Advisory Privacy Statement
Last updated 2023-01-10
This notice is provided to you on behalf of Ward Williams and Long Habit LLC dba Better Tomorrow Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor with the state of Washington.
PRIVACY WARNING – Washington state’s regulatory office might read your emails and texts to me
Washington state’s Department of Finance (DFI)– which has regulatory authority over me as a Registered– has told me on 1/10/2023 that when they do their once every 3-5 year examinations of my ‘books and records’ that they will require me to:
1) turn over all client emails we send back and forth (sent to my firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com emails)
2) turn over all client text messages sent over my work channels (mainly the 253-655-7627 biz number.)
Then intend to snoop (for lack of a better word) through those communications as part of their routine auditing process that they perform on all advisors to look for any violations I might’ve made. They have assured me that a) these items are NOT public record and b) that they delete anything that does NOT contain information related to any suspected violations that they might then choose to look into.
Even with those assurances, I personally feel like this is a gross violation of your personal privacy (not to mention mine) as well as an overly broad reading of the requirement for advisors to share ‘books & records’ with regulators. I will escalate this issue within the DFI and Washington state governor’s office as a private citizen. (Don’t expect anything to change, I have no pull in Olympia, especially since apparently this is the same process followed nationwide per the SEC/FINRA that govern advisors on a national scale, but I’ll fight the good fight for us!)
I will also do what I can to limit what is given to the state, for example by trying to remove communications that are not strictly related to advisory matters, but that might be infeasible, especially given the way the DFI has told me they intend to conduct any future examinations.
I want to make you aware of this when you are thinking about what to send in an email or text to my work points of contact. Assume any communication with me while you are a client could be legally obtained by the DFI by compelling me to do so at the risk of losing my license as an investment advisor. (But not made public and, hopefully, deleted afterward if they were to download such communications to their servers. Of course, we hope the DFI takes proper precautions with our data, but ya never know!)
The relevant section of Washington state code (WAC, controlled by the executive branch/governor’s office, it seems) that permits this is this: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=460-24A-200
“WAC 460-24A-200 Books and records to be maintained by investment
(g) Physical or electronic copies of all written communications
received and copies of all written communications sent by you relating
to your investment advisory business including, but not limited to:
(i) Any recommendation made or proposed to be made and any advice
given or proposed to be given;
(ii) Any receipt, disbursement or delivery of funds or securities; and
(iii) The placing or execution of any order to purchase or sell
(11) If you are an investment adviser registered or required to
be registered under RCW 21.20.040, you must make the records required to be maintained under this section easily accessible for inspection by the director or the director’s representatives. In the conduct of an examination authorized by RCW 21.20.100(4), you must honor all requests by the director or the director’s representatives to have physical access to all areas of the office that is the subject of the examination. Upon request, you must permit the director or the director’s representatives to access, copy, scan, image, and examine all
records and electronic data that you are required to retain under this
section.” [Emphasis mine]
Information We Collect
In connection with providing financial advice, or other services, we obtain non-public personal information from you, including:
- Information for identifying, contacting, and building a financial plan for you such as your address, email address, date of birth, Social Security number (only if required by law and to sign you up for an investment account if you so choose), occupation, financial goals, assets, income, hopes and dreams.
- Information about your financial transactions as needed to understand your financial picture and habits
- Information received from third parties via you, such as your credit history, social security benefit amounts (for retirement planning), investments held, credit card, student loan, mortgage or other debt balances and interest rates.
Categories of Information We Disclose: We will not disclose any of your information without your consent unless required by law. We definitely won’t sell your information.
Categories of Parties to Whom We Disclose: We will not disclose information regarding you or your account with us, except under the following circumstances:
- To another professional that you employ, and only if you’ve consented to us talking to them about your situation, such as another financial, tax, or business advisor you use, or an insurance agent, or perhaps a family member that you’d like to bring into the conversation.
- To entities that perform services for us or function on our behalf, including financial service providers, such as a clearing broker-dealer, investment company, or insurance company;
- To consumer reporting agencies (if required by law),
- To third parties who perform services or marketing on our behalf (currently we do not use any of these services, but it’s possible we might in the future);
- To your attorney, trustee or anyone else who represents you in a fiduciary capacity;
- To our attorneys, accountants or auditors (we have none as of writing, but you never know); and
- To government entities or other third parties in response to subpoenas or other legal processes as required by law or to comply with regulatory inquiries.
How We Use Information:
- To provide you with useful financial recommendations, and help you implement them;
- To process your requests such as securities purchases and sales (only if we entered into a Discretionary relationship with you; we generally don’t);
- To comply with Federal, State, and Self-Regulatory Organization requirements;
Our Security Policy: We restrict access to nonpublic personal information about you to those individuals who need to know that information to provide products or services to you and perform their respective duties. (As of writing, only your Advisor, Ward Williams, has access to these.)
We use Google Drive for pretty much every form of electronic storage, including your information & all of our financial planning documents, which we believe is very safe. Some of these documents will be downloaded onto our own computer(s), which are password-protected and stored in locked facilities when not in use.
(For what it’s worth, your Advisor maintains all of his personal documents as well on Google Drive, has for many years, and sleeps very comfortably knowing all of it is on secure servers, protected by password access, and backed up. He feels better about this than the files stored on his own laptop.)
Complaint Notification: Please direct complaints to: Ward Williams, ward at bettertomorrowfinancial dot com