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OPY > SEC Filings for OPY > Form 10-Q on 2-May-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for OPPENHEIMER HOLDINGS INC

Form 10-Q for OPPENHEIMER HOLDINGS INC


2-May-2014

Quarterly Report


Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The Company's condensed consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Reference is also made to the Company's consolidated financial statements and notes thereto found in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013.

The Company engages in a broad range of activities in the securities industry, including retail securities brokerage, institutional sales and trading, investment banking (both corporate and public finance), research, market-making, trust services and investment advisory and asset management services. Its principal subsidiaries are Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. ("Oppenheimer") and Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. ("OAM"). As of March 31, 2014, the Company provided its services from 96 offices in 25 states located throughout the United States, offices in Tel Aviv, Israel, Hong Kong and Beijing, China, London, England, and St. Helier, Isle of Jersey. Client assets administered by the Company as of March 31, 2014 totaled approximately $87.2 billion. The Company provides investment advisory services through OAM and Oppenheimer Investment Management Inc. ("OIM") and Oppenheimer's Fahnestock Asset Management, Alpha and OMEGA Group divisions. The Company provides trust services and products through Oppenheimer Trust Company. The Company provides discount brokerage services through Freedom Investments, Inc. ("Freedom") and through BUYandHOLD, a division of Freedom. Through OPY Credit Corp., the Company offers syndication as well as trading of issued corporate loans. Oppenheimer Multifamily Housing & Healthcare Finance, Inc. ("OMHHF") is engaged in FHA insured commercial mortgage origination and servicing. At March 31, 2014, client assets under management by the asset management groups totaled approximately $25.6 billion. At March 31, 2014, the Company employed 3,506 employees (3,422 full-time and 84 part-time), of whom approximately 1,390 were financial advisers.

Critical Accounting Estimates

The Company's accounting policies are essential to understanding and interpreting the financial results reported in the condensed consolidated financial statements. The significant accounting policies used in the preparation of the Company's condensed consolidated financial statements are summarized in Note 2 to the Company's consolidated financial statements and notes thereto found in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013. Certain of those policies are considered to be particularly important to the presentation of the Company's financial results because they require management to make difficult, complex or subjective judgments, often as a result of matters that are inherently uncertain. The following is a discussion of these policies.

During the three months ended March 31, 2014, there were no material changes to matters discussed under the heading "Critical Accounting Estimates" in Part II, Item 7 of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013.

Business Environment

The securities industry is directly affected by general economic and market conditions, including fluctuations in volume and price levels of securities and changes in interest rates, inflation, political events, investor confidence, investor participation levels, legal and regulatory, accounting, tax and compliance requirements and competition, all of which have an impact on commissions, firm trading, fees from accounts under investment management as well as fees for investment banking services, investment and interest income as well as on liquidity. Substantial fluctuations can occur in revenue and net income due to these and other factors.


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For a number of years, the Company has offered auction rate securities ("ARS") to its clients. A significant portion of the market in ARS 'failed' because, in the tight credit market in and subsequent to 2008, dealers were no longer willing or able to purchase the imbalance between supply and demand for ARS. These securities have auctions scheduled on either a 7, 28 or 35 day cycle. Clients of the Company own ARS in their individual accounts. The absence of a liquid market for these securities presents a significant problem to clients continuing to own ARS and, as a result, to the Company. It should be noted that this is a failure of liquidity and not a default. These securities in almost all cases have not failed to pay interest or principal when due. These securities are fully collateralized for the most part and, for the most part, remain good credits. The Company did not act as an auction agent for ARS.

Interest rates on ARS typically reset through periodic auctions. Due to the auction mechanism and generally liquid markets, ARS historically were categorized as Level 1 in the fair value hierarchy. Beginning in February 2008, uncertainties in the credit markets resulted in substantially all of the ARS market experiencing failed auctions. Once the auctions failed, the ARS could no longer be valued using observable prices set in the auctions. The Company has used less observable determinants of the fair value of ARS, including the strength in the underlying credits, announced issuer redemptions, completed issuer redemptions, and announcements from issuers regarding their intentions with respect to their outstanding ARS. The Company has also developed an internal methodology to discount for the lack of liquidity and non-performance risk of the failed auctions. Due to liquidity problems associated with the ARS market, ARS that lack liquidity are setting their interest rates according to a maximum rate formula.

The Company sought financing from a number of sources to try to find a means for all its clients to find liquidity from their ARS holdings. It seems likely that liquidity will ultimately come from issuer redemptions, which to date, combined with purchases by the Company have reduced client holdings by 91%. There can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in finding a liquidity solution for all its clients' ARS. See "Risk Factors - The Company may continue to be adversely affected by the failure of the Auction Rate Securities Market" appearing in Item 1A of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013 and "Factors Affecting 'Forward-Looking Statements'" herein.

Recent events have caused increased review and scrutiny of the methods utilized by financial service companies to finance their short term requirements for liquidity. The Company utilizes commercial bank loans, securities lending, and repurchase agreements to finance its short term liquidity needs (See "Liquidity"). All repurchase agreements and reverse repurchase agreements are collateralized by short term U.S. Government obligations and U.S. Government Agency obligations.

The Company is focused on growing its private client and asset management businesses through strategic additions of experienced financial advisers in its existing branch system and employment of experienced money management personnel in its asset management business. In addition, the Company is committed to the improvement of its technology capability to support client service and the expansion of its capital markets capabilities while addressing the issue of managing its expenses.

Regulatory and Legal Environment

The brokerage business is subject to regulation by, among others, the SEC and FINRA in the United States, the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") in the United Kingdom, the Jersey Financial Services Commission ("JFSC") in the Isle of Jersey, the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong ("SFC"), and various state securities regulators in the United States. In addition, Oppenheimer Israel (OPCO) Ltd. operates under the supervision of the Israeli Securities Authority. Events of a decade ago surrounding corporate accounting and other activities leading to investor losses resulted in the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and have caused increased regulation of public companies. The financial crisis of 2008-9 accelerated this trend. New regulations and new interpretations and enforcement of existing regulations have created increased costs of compliance and increased investment in systems and procedures to comply with these more complex and onerous requirements. Various states are imposing their own regulations that make compliance more difficult and more expensive to monitor.


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In July 2010, Congress enacted extensive legislation entitled the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd Frank") in which it mandated that the SEC and other regulators conduct comprehensive studies and issue new regulations based on their findings to control the activities of financial institutions in order to protect the financial system, the investing public and consumers from issues and failures that occurred in the 2008-9 financial crisis. All relevant studies have not yet been completed, but they are widely expected to extensively impact the regulation and practices of financial institutions including the Company. The changes are likely to significantly reduce leverage available to financial institutions and to increase transparency to regulators and investors of risks taken by such institutions. It continues to be impossible to predict the nature and impact of such rulemaking. In addition, new rules have been adapted to regulate and/or prohibit proprietary trading for certain deposit taking institutions, control the amount and timing of compensation to "highly paid" employees, create new regulations around financial transactions with consumers requiring the adoption of a uniform fiduciary standard of care of broker-dealers and investment advisers providing personalized investment advice about securities to retail customers, increase the disclosures provided to clients, and create a tax on securities transactions. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stated its intention to implement new rules affecting the interaction between financial institutions and consumers. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor is poised to propose its own rules for financial institutions surrounding their fiduciary duty to retirement plans which could have significant negative implications for the industry's relationships with this broad group of clients including individuals holding Individual Retirement Accounts ("IRA"). In December 2012, France began applying a 0.2% transaction tax on financial transactions in American Depository Receipts of French companies that trade on U.S. exchanges. Italy implemented its own financial transaction tax in March 2013. The imposition of financial transaction taxes are likely to impact the jurisdiction in which securities are traded and the "spreads" demanded by market participants in order to make up for the cost of any such tax. Such a tax may be implemented throughout the European Union. Recent publicity around "high speed trading" has created suggestions by legislators to create a financial transaction tax in the U.S. to inhibit such trading. If and when enacted, such regulations will likely increase compliance costs and reduce returns earned by financial service providers and intensify compliance overall. It is difficult to predict the nature of the final regulations and their impact on the business of the Company.

Prohibitions and Restrictions on Proprietary Trading and Certain Interests in, and Relationships with, Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds (the "Volcker Rule") was published by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board as required by Dodd-Frank in 2011. The Volcker Rule is intended to restrict U.S. banks and other financial institutions that accept deposits from conducting proprietary trading activities, as well as investing in hedge funds and private equity funds for their own account. The intent of the Volcker Rule is to reduce risk to the capital of such institutions through reducing speculation and risk-taking with bank capital. The draft form of the proposed rule was exposed for comment until February 13, 2012 and is scheduled to become effective on July 21, 2015 (subject to possible additional delays). There may be additional changes to the requirements of the Volcker Rule and it is impossible to determine the rule's impact on market liquidity and on the liquidity of issued sovereign debt in Europe and Asia. The Company believes that the Volcker Rule will not directly affect its operations, but indirect effects cannot be predicted with any certainty. Additionally, the Federal Reserve in conjunction with other U.S regulatory organizations has analyzed the U.S. financial system and the impact that might result from the failure of one or more "Strategically Important Financial Institutions" ("SIFI"). To date, less than 50 such institutions have been identified and will be made subject to special regulations including the requirement to create a plan for their orderly demise in the event of a failure. Oppenheimer has not been identified as a SIFI. There can be no assurance that this list will not grow to include more SIFI institutions. This requirement may have broader implications for the capital markets as capital becomes less available. The identification process has not been completed and is subject to appeal by the affected institutions. The Company has no reason to believe that it will be identified as a SIFI.


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Recent revelations concerning the potential manipulation of LIBOR ("London Interbank Offered Rate") during the period from 2008-2010 make it likely that more regulation surrounding the fixing of interest rates on commercial bank loans and reference rates on derivatives can be expected. Similar investigations are underway with respect to the setting of foreign exchange rates over a broad time period and there is no way to predict the outcome of these investigations.

The rules and requirements that were created by the passage of the Patriot Act, and the anti-money laundering regulations (AML) in the U.S. and similar laws in other countries that are related, have created significant costs of compliance and can be expected to continue to do so. Regulators have expanded their views of the requirements of the Patriot Act and the amount of diligence required by financial institutions of both their foreign and domestic clients.

Pursuant to FINRA Rule 3130 (formerly NASD Rule 3013 and NYSE Rule 342), the chief executive officers ("CEOs") of regulated broker-dealers (including the CEO of Oppenheimer) are required to certify that their companies have processes in place to establish and test supervisory policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with federal securities laws and regulations, including applicable regulations of self-regulatory organizations. The CEO of the Company is required to make such a certification on an annual basis and did so in March 2014.

On July 30, 2013, the SEC adopted final amendments to the financial responsibility rules ("FRRs") and reporting rules under SEC Rule 17a-5 ("Reporting Rule") for broker-dealers. The final amendments to the FRRs make changes to the rules related to proprietary accounts for broker-dealers, special reserve deposits with banks, bank sweep programs, deductions from net worth, solvency requirements, the SEC's ability to restrict withdrawals of capital, books and records requirements, and notifications to regulators. The effective date for the FRRs was October 21, 2013. The effectiveness of certain provisions of the final amendments was extended to March 3, 2014.

The Reporting Rule will require all broker-dealers to file a new unaudited quarterly Form Custody report which will provide information around custodial practices and was effective December 31, 2013. In addition, the new reporting rules provide significant changes to annual reporting of broker-dealers by eliminating the internal control report referred to as the Material Inadequacy letter, providing for a new Compliance Report asserting the effectiveness of internal controls for compliance with net capital, customer reserve formula, quarterly security count, and customer account statements. Also, the new reporting rules make changes to the audit and attestation requirements for auditor reporting from American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
("AICPA") standards to Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ("PCAOB")
standards as well as provide the SEC with access to auditors and audit workpapers. These rules are effective for fiscal years ending on or after June 1, 2014.

Other Regulatory Matters

For several quarters, Oppenheimer has been responding to information requests from the Enforcement Staff of FINRA regarding Oppenheimer's policies and procedures in relation to, and the activities of several financial advisers concerning, the sale of low-priced securities. On August 5, 2013, FINRA issued an order accepting an offer of settlement submitted by Oppenheimer without admitting or denying the recitation of facts and violative conduct set forth in the order (the "Order"). The Order states that from August 2008 through September 2010 seven brokers in five branch offices of Oppenheimer permitted the sale of low priced securities ("penny stocks") that were neither registered or exempt from registration under the Securities Act and Oppenheimer's supervisory system failed to prevent such violations. In addition, FINRA determined Oppenheimer failed to follow up on specific red flags relating to the sale of penny stocks and Oppenheimer's AML program failed to detect suspicious activity related to penny stock sales. FINRA determined this activity violated FINRA Rule 2010, 2110 and 3310. As a result, Oppenheimer was censured and paid a total fine of $1,425,000. Oppenheimer also agreed to retain an independent consultant to conduct a review of its policies, systems, procedures and training relating to the receipt or purchase and subsequent sale of penny stocks, the supervision of Foreign Financial Institutions ("FFIs") and its anti-money laundering procedures related to FFIs and the handling of movement of securities. The independent consultant completed its review and filed its report with Oppenheimer and FINRA in January 2014.


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On June 23, 2011, Oppenheimer received notice of an investigation by the SEC pursuant to which the SEC requested information from the Company regarding the sale of a number of low-priced securities effected primarily through several former Oppenheimer financial advisers and purchases and sales of low-priced securities through one Oppenheimer customer account. The issues and facts surrounding this investigation are, in the Company's view, largely duplicative of the matter described above. On July 16, 2013, the Company received a "Wells Notice" from the SEC requesting that the Company make a written submission to the SEC to explain why Oppenheimer should not be charged with violations of the Exchange Act in relation to its sales of penny stocks on behalf of a former customer of the firm. The Company submitted a Wells response on August 19, 2013.

In October 2010, Oppenheimer received notice of an investigation by the SEC related to the trading of low-priced securities by one former financial advisor in one of Oppenheimer's branch offices and the supervision related thereto. Both branch and headquarters personnel, including members of senior management, have provided on-the-record testimony in connection with the investigation.

The Company believes that the SEC may file one or more actions against Oppenheimer in connection with the two immediately preceding paragraphs. As a result the Company recorded a significant charge against earnings in the first quarter of 2014 related to these two matters.

On February 20, 2014, Oppenheimer received notice of an investigation by, and a request for information from, a division of the United States Department of the Treasury ("FINCEN") relating to potential violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder related primarily to, in the Company's view, the FINRA and SEC matters discussed immediately above. Oppenheimer provided information it believes is responsive to the FINCEN request for information in March of 2014.

For several quarters Oppenheimer has been responding to information requests from FINRA regarding the sale of leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds ("ETFs"). Several Oppenheimer employees have provided on-the-record testimony in connection with the investigation.

Oppenheimer is continuing to cooperate with the investigating entities.

In December 2013, FINRA issued an Order Accepting the Offer of Settlement ("Order") previously submitted by Oppenheimer in connection with the appropriateness of certain compensation earned in trading several issues of municipal bonds in 2008 and 2009. Pursuant to the Order, Oppenheimer agreed to
(i) pay a fine of $675,000, (ii) pay approximately $247,000 in restitution to customers and (iii) provide a written report to FINRA six, twelve and eighteen months after the date of the Order regarding the effectiveness of Oppenheimer's policies regarding the pricing of municipal securities transactions for its customers. Oppenheimer has paid the fine and restitution and all amounts were fully reserved for at December 31, 2013. In connection with the foregoing, the trader also separately agreed to pay a fine of $100,000 and agreed not to be associated with Oppenheimer or any other broker dealer for a period of 60 days.

In February 2010, Oppenheimer finalized settlements with the Regulators concluding investigations and administrative proceedings by the Regulators concerning Oppenheimer's marketing and sale of ARS. Pursuant to the settlements with the Regulators, Oppenheimer agreed to extend offers to repurchase ARS from certain of its clients subject to certain terms and conditions. In addition to the settlements with the Regulators, Oppenheimer has also reached settlements of and received adverse awards in legal proceedings with various clients where the Company is obligated to purchase ARS. Pursuant to completed Purchase Offers (as defined) under the settlements with Regulators and client related legal settlements and awards to purchase ARS, as of March 31, 2014, the Company purchased and holds (net of redemptions) approximately $91.5 million in ARS from its clients. In addition, the Company is currently committed to purchase ARS in the amount up to $5.0 million from clients pursuant to the settlements with Regulators and another $24.0 million from clients through 2016 under legal settlements and awards.


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The Company also held $150,000 in ARS in its proprietary trading account as of March 31, 2014 as a result of the failed auctions in February 2008. The ARS positions that the Company owns and are committed to purchase primarily represent Auction Rate Preferred Securities issued by closed-end funds and, to a lesser extent, Municipal Auction Rate Securities which are municipal bonds wrapped by municipal bond insurance and Student Loan Auction Rate Securities which are asset-backed securities backed by student loans.

The Company's clients held at Oppenheimer approximately $154.6 million of ARS at March 31, 2014, exclusive of amounts that 1) were owned by Qualified Institutional Buyers ("QIBs"), 2) were transferred to the Company after February 2008, 3) were purchased by clients after February 2008, or 4) were transferred from the Company to other securities firms after February 2008. See "Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements" herein for additional details.

Other Matters

The Company operates in all state jurisdictions in the United States and is thus subject to regulation and enforcement under the laws and regulations of each of these jurisdictions. The Company has been and expects that it will continue to be subject to investigations and some or all of these may result in enforcement proceedings as a result of its business conducted in the various states.

As part of its ongoing business, the Company records reserves for legal expenses, judgments, fines and/or awards attributable to litigation and regulatory matters. In connection therewith, the Company has maintained its legal reserves at levels it believes will resolve outstanding matters, but may increase or decrease such reserves as matters warrant. In accordance with applicable accounting guidance, the Company establishes reserves for litigation and regulatory matters when those matters present loss contingencies that are both probable and reasonably estimable. When loss contingencies are not both probable and reasonably estimable, the Company does not establish reserves. See "Legal Proceedings" herein.

Business Continuity

The Company is committed to an on-going investment in its technology and communications infrastructure including extensive business continuity planning and investment. These costs are on-going and the Company believes that current and future costs will exceed historic levels due to business and regulatory requirements. The Company built a new data center in 2010 which is housed in a location different than its headquarters. The move to new headquarters in 2012 required additional outlays for business continuity purposes although considerable savings have begun to be realized by the availability of independent electric generating capacity for the entire building which will support the Company's infrastructure and occupancy.

The fourth quarter of 2012 was impacted by Superstorm Sandy which occurred on October 29, 2012 causing the Company to vacate its then two principal offices in downtown Manhattan and displaced 800 of the Company's employees including substantially all of its capital markets, operations and headquarters staff for in excess of 30 days. The Company continues to review both internally and with its landlords and vendors the infrastructure necessary to withstand a similar event in light of the issues that arose in the fall of 2012.


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Cybersecurity

The Company has been focused for many years on the issues of maintaining the security of its clients' data, access to its data processing environment, and its data processing facilities. Recent examples of vulnerabilities by other companies which have resulted in loss of client data and fraudulent activities by both domestic and foreign entities have caused the Company to review its security policies and procedures and to take additional actions to protect its network and its information. Such threats are deemed to be ongoing and the Company believes that increased resources will need to be dedicated to this effort in the future.

Outlook

The Company's long-term plan is to continue to expand existing offices by hiring experienced professionals as well as through the purchase of operating branch offices from other broker dealers or the opening of new branch offices in attractive locations, thus maximizing the potential of each office and the development of existing trading, investment banking, investment advisory and other activities. Equally important is the search for viable acquisition candidates. As opportunities are presented, it is the long-term intention of the Company to pursue growth by acquisition where a comfortable match can be found in terms of corporate goals and personnel at a price that would provide the . . .

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