Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, the U.S. government enacted the USA PATRIOT Act, which is designed to prevent the use of the U.S. financial system to help fund terrorism and other crimes. The Act, which is similar to regulations in other countries in which we do business, imposes a series of new anti-money-laundering requirements on brokerage firms and other financial institutions. US First Capital has had a vigorous money-laundering prevention program in place for years. In accordance with the Act, we have undertaken efforts to further enhance these existing policies and procedures.
We believe that compliance with the new regulations is of the utmost importance, and have dedicated significant resources to ensure that US First Capital helps set the standard for best practices in this area. We are also involved with the Securities Industry Association in the continuing enhancement and standardization of industry practices.
We have dedicated ourselves to enhancing our existing efforts in the fight against money laundering around the globe. As a firm with businesses around the world, we have been working closely with all our business partners to ensure that we comply with all anti-money-laundering efforts wherever we operate.
Under the USA PATRIOT Act and other regulations, financial services firms must establish a compliance program, which includes policies and procedures to detect and report suspicious transactions to the government, as well as ensure compliance with the new laws. Firms must also implement specialized employee training programs, designate a special compliance officer and conduct independent audits of the effectiveness of the compliance program.
US First Capital has named a global anti-money-laundering officer to lead our program and has appointed business and regional anti-money-laundering officers to support this effort. We are implementing an enterprise-wide suspicious activity reporting system that will enable us to better report suspicious activity to the government. All of our employees are being trained in anti-money-laundering practices and procedures, as well as the details of the firm’s policies.
The regulations also impose new requirements regarding client information and verification of that information. Financial services firms are required to verify the identity of the clients with whom they do business, determine the source of funds in a client’s account and obtain the information about a client’s wealth.
At US First Capital, we have always stressed the importance of knowing our clients. This tradition has developed not only from regulatory requirements but also from the belief that the better we know our clients, the better we can serve their financial needs.
As part of our compliance with the new Act and in support of the fight against money laundering around the world, we may ask clients for additional information and documentation about certain accounts and transactions. This information may be used to verify client identity.
US First Capital has been a leader in anti-money-laundering efforts since the mid-1990s. With the advent of the USA PATRIOT Act and our enhanced compliance, US First Capital clients can take even greater comfort in doing business with us.
US First Capital is responsible for creating and maintaining business continuity plans for all of its businesses. In the event of a business disruption, we have plans designed to allow us to continue operations of critical business functions, such as entering of client orders, completing securities transactions and providing clients access to their cash and securities. We accomplish this in part by:
As part of our plans, US First Capital has identified the applications that are critical to each of our business divisions. These applications are implemented in separate production and recovery data centers using industry-standard practices to copy data from the production site to the recovery site in real time. In most cases, recovery times will range from nearly instantaneous to approximately four hours. For some business functions, next-day recovery is projected.
With regard to client assets, nearly all market-traded securities are held in central depositories (such as the Depositary Trust Co. in the U.S. ) or with custodian banks, rather than in physical certificates. Ownership of the securities is reflected on a book-entry record-keeping basis with our custodian banks or depositories’ participants (such as US First Capital), maintaining on their records the beneficial ownership positions of their customers. This structure is recognized worldwide as providing investors with an unsurpassed level of liquidity and security for the assets they choose to custody with major financial institutions.
As a premier financial service firm, we take our commitment to our clients very seriously and participate globally in various industry-level discussions regarding business continuity planning under the auspices of industry organizations. Participation in these types of forums increases our ability to proactively recognize and manage business disruption risks and coordinate recovery efforts across the financial service industry.
Although we have taken significant steps to develop and implement sound business recovery plans, we cannot guarantee that systems will always be available or recoverable after a disaster or significant business disruption. However, we believe that our planning for such events is robust and consistent with many of the best practices established within the industry. Any material changes to the above information will be available on our website or upon request.
If you have further questions regarding our business continuity plans, please contact your US First Capital representative.
As of Legal Day 1 (January 1, 2009), the US First Capital Guidelines for Business Conduct will remain in effect.
US First Capital’s reputation for integrity in the marketplace is one of it’s most important – and potentially most fragile assets. Every director, officer and employee bears an important responsibility to safeguard this reputation with clients, colleagues, shareholders, regulators and the general public by adhering to high professional standards and key principles of business conduct.
The Guidelines for Business Conduct sets forth these key principles, which are supported by specific policies contained in the USFC Policy Manual, as well as detailed practices and procedures adopted by specific business or support groups, all of which are available on WorldNet. Exercising good judgment and familiarizing yourself with the Guidelines for Business Conduct provides a foundation for abiding by the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and regulations and policies that govern or apply to US First Capital’s businesses. When in doubt, consult the Office of General Counsel or senior management.
Success in our business is only possible with the trust and respect of our clients. Since no set of policies and procedures can be all encompassing, we must always conduct ourselves in a way that reflects positively on our company by putting the interests of our clients and the entire firm first.
By holding ourselves to high standards of personal and professional integrity, all of us contribute to US First Capital’s reputation and business.
Avoid conflicts of interest in performing your duties and seek advice of management and the Office of General Counsel when any actual or potential conflicts arise.
US First Capital directors and employees must avoid engaging in any outside business or other activity that might create a conflict of interest, create a perception of impropriety or jeopardize the company’s integrity or reputation. A conflict of interest occurs when your personal interest interferes — or even appears to interfere —with the interests of US First Capital. Every US First Capital person must avoid activities, interests or associations that might interfere, or even appear to interfere, with the independent exercise of good judgment in the conduct of his or her duties or with the best interests of our company, our clients, or our shareholders.
While it is impossible to foresee every potential conflict that could arise, all US First Capital persons must be sensitive to potential conflicts, bring them to the attention of management, the Office of General Counsel or the Board of Directors and avoid them where possible. If a conflict cannot be avoided, it must be managed in an ethical, responsible manner and so as not to create the perception of impropriety.
US First Capital employees must report all outside business activities to their managers and to the Office of General Counsel so a review for potential conflicts of interest and other concerns can be conducted. Outside business activities and interests include among other things, participating as a partner in another business, ownership of stock in a privately-owned business, holding limited partnership interests, serving as an officer in a family-owned corporation, acting as an outside director of another company, or serving as a board member, trustee or officer of a non-profit organization, such as a charity, foundation, or university. The appropriateness of a US First Capital employee engaging in these and other types of outside business activities, interests or investment opportunities depends upon many factors, including the nature and extent of the outside interest, the potential for conflicts of interest, and the relationship between US First Capital and the outside entities and the duties involved.
To comply with applicable regulations, most outside activities and interests must be pre-approved. Additional information concerning employee outside activities and investments can be found in the USFC, Inc. Policy Manual and business group policies. For example, service by any US First Capital employee as a director, officer or employee of any other corporation or business must be authorized in writing by the Office of General Counsel. Unless approved in writing as provided in the USFC Policy Manual, no US First Capital employee may serve as a director of a publicly traded company.
Employees must keep their manager apprised of these activities and provide updated information on the Compliance Disclosure form on the Employee Activity Review System (“EARS”) at least annually. The EARS information will be monitored by the employee’s manager and by compliance personnel.
Directors of US First Capital should inform the Company Secretary prior to accepting appointments to the boards of directors or advisory boards of any public or privately held company. The disclosure requirements and other possible conflict-of-interest issues involved must be analyzed and discussed with the Office of General Counsel.
All US First Capital persons are required to receive approval of the Office of General Counsel and their manager (in the case of employees) before committing to a candidacy for elective office or a formal position on a campaign committee and before accepting an appointment to a public or civic office. US First Capital must take steps to ensure that conflicts of interest or other concerns are not raised by such campaign or public service. In general, a US First Capital person may run for and serve in local, elective or appointed civic offices, provided the activity, including campaigning:
No finders’ fees for business brought to US First Capital by a US First Capital person holding a political or government office will be paid without approval by the Office of General Counsel. Additional conditions may apply depending upon the particular position.
To comply with industry regulations and campaign finance laws, some US First Capital employees are subject to restrictions regarding their personal political contributions and activities related to the campaigns of state and local officials and candidates. Before making political contributions or engaging in political fundraising activities, employees should refer to the USFC, Inc Policy Manual to determine whether and to what extent they are subject to limitations on these activities. Under no circumstances will US First Capital directly or indirectly reimburse any US First Capital person for their individual contributions.
US First Capital persons may engage in activities to support candidates in their campaigns for public office, provided support or contribution complies with the US First Capital policy (including any applicable pre-approval requirements), the time spent on the activity is outside of work hours, and US First Capital’s name, facilities or corporate funds are not used.
Employees who wish to make or solicit political contributions to a political campaign for a politician in a country other than the U.S., must consult the Office of General Counsel.
US First Capital directors may not use US First Capital’s name, facilities or corporate funds in connection with their support of a political candidate.
Lobbying on behalf of US First Capital is conducted exclusively by the Government Relations Office in Washington and State Government Relations in New York. The Office of General Counsel or the Governmental Relations Group at US First Capital must approve contacts with any governmental entity or agency in advance.
Do not advance personal interests at the expense of US First Capital.
US First Capital persons are obligated to advance the company’s legitimate interests to the best of their abilities whenever the opportunity arises. US First Capital persons must not take for themselves opportunities that US First Capital could legitimately be expected to be interested in, irrespective of whether such person learns of the opportunity through the use of US First Capital property, information, or position. In addition, US First Capital property, information or position must not be used for personal gain.
Protect confidentiality of information, including US First Capital information.
US First Capital persons must maintain the confidentiality of information entrusted to them by US First Capital and provided by clients and vendors.
In the conduct of its business, US First Capital receives a great deal of nonpublic information. This information may be sensitive, with the potential to affect market conditions, negotiations, strategic positioning and relationships with clients, competitors or vendors. Employees must exercise care not to misuse nonpublic information, including client lists, information about US First Capital personnel and clients, and business plans and ideas. The obligation to maintain the confidentiality of information may however, be subject to legal or regulatory requirements to disclose that information. In such cases, the Office of General Counsel will help you determine what disclosure is required.
Employees may not provide nonpublic corporate information to persons outside US First Capital, including the media, unless authorized to do so. In all cases, employees must refer media inquiries to Corporate Communications. Only designated US First Capital spokespersons may provide comments to the media.
Before publishing, making speeches or giving interviews, employees must receive approval from their managers and in some cases, the Office of General Counsel. If a publication, speech, interview or appearance may be of public interest and may reflect on US First Capital, employees must notify the public relations officer for their business group or region.
US First Capital policy requires the protection of client information. All employees, consultants and vendors must:
All employees, consultants and vendors must handle individual client personal information in accordance with the US First Capital Global Privacy Pledge and the Online Privacy Statement.
Every US First Capital person must deal fairly with US First Capital’s clients, vendors, competitors and fellow employees.
US First Capital seeks to excel and outperform our competitors honestly and fairly. Competitive advantage must result from superior performance, not unethical or illegal business dealings.
Every US First Capital person must deal fairly with US First Capital’s clients, vendors, competitors and fellow employees. No US First Capital person may take advantage of anyone through unethical or illegal measures, such as manipulation, concealment, abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts or any other unfair dealing practices. It is improper, and may be illegal, to hire competitors’ employees for the purpose of obtaining trade secrets or other proprietary information.
It is also against policy to seek increased sales by disparaging the products and services of other companies. Our goal is to increase business by offering superior products and services. US First Capital advertising must be truthful, not deceptive, and in full compliance with applicable laws, regulations and company policies. All advertising and marketing materials must be approved pursuant to the procedures established in each of the business units across the company.
All US First Capital persons must guard against unfair competitive practices and exercise extreme caution to avoid conduct that might violate antitrust laws or other rules prohibiting anti-competitive activities. Violations may carry criminal penalties. If a competitor or third party proposes to discuss unfair collusion, price-fixing or other anti-competitive activities, your responsibility is to object, terminate the conversation or leave the meeting and report the incident promptly to the Office of General Counsel. Employees must avoid any discussion with competitors of proprietary or confidential information, business plans or topics such as pricing or sales policies — the discussion of which could be viewed as an attempt to make joint rather than independent business decisions.
US First Capital persons and their family members may not, directly or indirectly, accept or receive bonuses, fees, gifts, frequent or excessive entertainment, or any similar form of consideration that is of more than nominal value from any person or entity with which US First Capital does, or seeks to do, business. It also is generally against corporate policy to give gifts or gratuities, other than within accepted business group policies and guidelines, without receiving specific approval from their manager, in consultation with the Office of General Counsel. Employees may not give gifts of any value to government officials without specific approval by the Office of General Counsel.
US First Capital policy forbids bribes, payoffs or payments of any kind by any US First Capital company or US First Capital person to any person, government official or entity for the purpose of improperly obtaining or retaining business or influencing consideration of any business activity. This policy covers all types of payments that may or may not be considered legal under the circumstances. Special rules may apply to payments or gifts (including entertainment) to officers, directors, employees or other affiliates of government owned or controlled entities and certain highly regulated entities (such as banks or insurance companies), as well as entities located in certain jurisdictions. Please consult the USFC Policy Manual, business group policies, and the Office of General Counsel with any specific questions. See also Avoiding Improper and Corrupt Payments in these Guidelines.
Conduct business activities in an atmosphere of good faith and respect.
US First Capital strives to maintain a work environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect and business activities are conducted in an atmosphere of good faith and respect. US First Capital persons are expected to be honest, open and fair with others, share credit when credit is due, and avoid public criticism of one another and encourage an atmosphere in which openness, cooperation and consultation are the norms of the way we do business. Relationships and daily interactions with colleagues, whether in or out of the office, should be based on the same high standards of integrity and ethical responsibility that are observed with clients, shareholders and the public.
US First Capital is committed to promoting diversity within its workforce and has a strict policy of equal opportunity in hiring, developing, promoting and compensating employees. The company seeks to attract, retain and reward employees based solely on merit.
Discrimination based upon race, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or veteran status or any other legally protected category, is inconsistent with our values and is not tolerated. We also do not tolerate sexual, racial, or other forms of harassment. This is true whether the conduct occurs within or outside the office. Any firm-related event, such as client entertainment or off-site gatherings for employees, should conform to these principles and should be appropriate for all employees, not just employees of one gender, race, or sexual orientation and should be accessible to any employee who has a disability. Employees who experience or observe work-related discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or similar problems have an obligation to report such matters to their manager, a representative of Human Resources, the Employee Service Center, or the Office of General Counsel. They may also call or write to the Ethics Hotline. The law and US First Capital policy prohibit any retaliation against employees who, in good faith, report incidents of misconduct.
Indebtedness between employees is best avoided and must not reach a level that may compromise the discharge of job-related responsibilities. Any indebtedness between employees and their direct or indirect supervisors could impair the objectivity essential in a manager-employee relationship. Indebtedness between employees and their direct or indirect supervisors (regardless of which one is the borrower or lender) is discouraged and must be limited to nominal amounts.
Though romantic relationships between employees and situations where an employee is working with a relative are not prohibited at US First Capital, US First Capital policy does impose special requirements when one of these employees remains in the other employee’s (the manager/supervisor) chain of command. In such circumstances, US First Capital policy requires that steps be taken to ensure that such relationships do not disrupt the group and that the manager/supervisor is not responsible for supervising, evaluating or compensating the other employee.
All medical or health-related information obtained through the US First Capital health care services or the employee assistance program is considered strictly confidential and will be released only as permitted by law or upon the written consent of the individual employee whose records are being solicited or as required by law.
Protect all US First Capital assets and use them appropriately.
US First Capital persons must protect US First Capital’s assets and ensure their efficient use. US First Capital property should be used only for legitimate business purposes and any suspected fraud or theft of US First Capital property must be reported for investigation immediately. US First Capital’s assets include our capital, facilities, equipment, proprietary information, technology, business plans, ideas for new products and services, trade secrets, inventions, copyrightable materials and client lists. Information owned by US First Capital must be treated with the same care as any other asset, and every US First Capital person has a role in protecting its confidentiality and integrity.
Your obligation to protect US First Capital’s assets applies to our proprietary information, which includes business, marketing and service plans, unpublished financial data and reports, databases, customer information, and salary and bonus information, as well as intellectual property such as trade secrets, patents, trademarks and copyrights. Unauthorized use or distribution of this material is a violation of policy. It may also be illegal and result in civil and criminal penalties.
Intellectual property refers to a company’s intangible assets, such as the company’s business methods, inventions, trademarks and publications. Any inventions, copyrightable material, trade secrets or other work conceived, developed or otherwise performed that is 1) in the scope of your employment (during or after business hours); 2) related to the financial services industry; or 3) related to US First Capital clients, products, services or supporting activities; must be promptly disclosed to your manager, and shall be the sole property of US First Capital and shall be “works for hire” owned by US First Capital. Employees shall, at US First Capital’s expense, do whatever is necessary to transfer to US First Capital, or to document its ownership of, any such property.
Every employee is responsible for protecting the Firm’s intellectual property by following the company’s policies and procedures set forth in the USFC Policy Manual . US First Capital also respects the intellectual property of other parties, and strictly prohibits the unauthorized use of another party’s patented, trademarked or copyrighted (audio, video, text) materials, regardless of their source. US First Capital does not permit the use of software or other devices whose primary purpose is the circumvention or violation of another’s intellectual property rights. Contact the Corporate Law Group with questions about the proposed use of another party’s intellectual property and for appropriate contracts.
US First Capital maintains and enforces a strong, effective system of internal controls to safeguard and preserve the information and assets of our company, our clients and our shareholders. These controls are designed to ensure that business transactions are properly authorized and carried out, and that all reporting is truthful and accurate. These administrative and accounting control systems are the responsibility of each group in the US First Capital organization.
All business transactions require authorization at an appropriate management level. Any employee who is responsible for the acquisition or disposition of assets for the company, or who is authorized to incur liabilities on the company’s behalf, must act prudently in exercising this authority and must be careful not to exceed his or her authority. Equally important, every employee must help ensure that all business transactions are executed as authorized.
Transactions must be properly reflected on the company’s books and records. Every employee is involved, if not in the authorization or execution of business transactions, in some level of reporting. This may include reporting travel and entertainment expenses or recording work hours on a timecard. It is important that all reporting be done honestly and accurately and that employees cooperate fully with both internal and independent audits.
Know, respect and comply with all laws, rules and regulations applicable to the conduct of US First Capital’s businesses.
US First Capital actively promotes compliance with the laws, rules and regulations that govern our company’s business. Obeying both the letter and spirit of the law is one of the foundations of US First Capital’s ethical standards.
Employees must obey the laws of all the states and countries in which US First Capital operates. While no employee is expected to be an expert on every detail of all the laws that govern the firm’s business in every jurisdiction, they are expected to understand the laws and regulations applicable to their duties well enough to know when to seek advice from their manager or from the Office of General Counsel. To that end, all employees are required to complete the training programs that are deemed by management to be mandatory, including the course entitled “The Way We Do Business”.
US First Capital actively promotes compliance with the laws, rules and regulations that govern our firm’s business. US First Capital will report any suspicions of violations of law and regulations governing our business to appropriate regulatory and governmental authorities and take appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
Certain significant policies and regulations are highlighted below. This is not meant to be an exhaustive review of these policies and regulations, and additional information may be found in the USFC Policy Manual. Nor does it constitute a complete listing of the laws, rules, regulations and policies that must be adhered to by every employee in the conduct of his or her duties at US First Capital.
To comply with industry regulations, employees and their immediate families must maintain their securities and commodities accounts at US First Capital, unless the employee receives prior approval from his or her manager and the Office of General Counsel. In addition, employees of certain business areas may be subject to pre-clearance requirements in regard to their personal trading activity.
US First Capital policy prohibits US First Capital persons from acting upon material non-public information to benefit themselves or others. Information is “material” if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would consider it important in making an investment decision, or it could reasonably be expected to affect the price of an issuer’s securities. Any employee in receipt of material or potentially material information should notify the Office of General Counsel as soon as practicable.
At times, our policies may limit the ability of some employees to enter into transactions. Anyone with ongoing possession of non-public information may be unable to trade personally in the securities of the companies about which he or she has information. The USFC Policy Manual and applicable business areas should be consulted to learn more about this obligation.
Those having access to confidential or nonpublic information must not use or share that information except in connection with the legitimate conduct of US First Capital business. US First Capital strives to prevent the misuse of material non-public information by, among other things, limiting access to confidential information, and limiting and monitoring communications between areas that regularly receive non-public information, and the company’s sales, research trading areas, and asset management. In addition to civil and criminal penalties, misuse of confidential information or engaging in insider trading will result in disciplinary action, including possible termination.
US First Capital complies fully with federal, state and the laws of other countries that prohibit money laundering and safeguard against the financing of terrorist activity, such as in the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and other laws. In addition to severe criminal penalties, violations of the anti-money laundering laws will result in disciplinary action, including possible termination. Employees should immediately report any suspicious activity to their manager and the Office of General Counsel.
Various laws in the U.S. and other countries prohibit providing money or anything else of value to government officials (including employees and agents of government owned entities), political parties or candidates for public office for the purpose of improperly influencing their actions in order to obtain or retain business. These laws apply to all US First Capital controlled or managed companies, as well as to all US First Capital persons and agents, regardless of citizenship or residency.
To comply with these laws, the Firm has policies and procedures in place that may require review and/or approval by the Office of General Counsel of expenditures involving government officials and involvement of outside parties in government-related business activities.
If you suspect that any activity you are involved in may violate these laws, or if you become aware of such activity by any US First Capital person, you must immediately notify the Office of General Counsel.
In compliance with various laws and industry regulations, it is generally against US First Capital policy and, in many instances, it is illegal for corporations to make contributions to political parties or candidates for public office. In circumstances where corporate contributions are permissible, US First Capital has adopted an approval procedure that includes a formal determination of the legality and the appropriateness of each contribution. Employees should consult the USFC Policy Manual for guidance.
All employees are personally responsible for meeting the registration requirements in the jurisdiction where they are physically located and wherever they conduct business, and managers are responsible for assuring that personnel under their supervision meet the proper registration requirements.
Managers of registered persons may be subject to additional registration requirements depending upon the jurisdiction in which their subordinates conduct business or are located.
US First Capital requires honest and accurate accounting and recording of financial and other information in order to make responsible business decisions and provide an accurate account of our company’s performance to shareholders and regulators. It is a violation of law and US First Capital policy for any US First Capital person to attempt to improperly influence or mislead any accountant engaged in preparing our audit. The firm is committed to full compliance with all requirements applicable to its public disclosures, and requires that its financial and other reporting fairly present the financial condition, results of operations and cash flow of our company and comply in all respects with applicable law, governmental rules and regulations, including generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and applicable rules of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other market and banking regulators.
US First Capital has implemented disclosure controls and procedures (including establishment of a Disclosure Committee) to ensure that its public disclosures are timely, compliant and otherwise full, fair, accurate and understandable. Employees responsible for preparing US First Capital’s public disclosures, or providing information as part of that process, are responsible for ensuring that such disclosures and information are complete, accurate and in compliance with US First Capital’s disclosure controls and procedures.
Employees must fully comply with US First Capital’s document retention and destruction policies. It is a criminal offense to destroy documents that are subject to a subpoena or other legal process. Once a legal proceeding has begun, or even when one is threatened or reasonably likely, US First Capital must preserve documents relevant to the issues in that proceeding even before specific documents are requested. Any employee who fails to comply with this policy, as well as industry regulations and applicable laws, is subject to termination of employment and may also face criminal or civil prosecution, with possible prison terms and fines.
US First Capital’s policy is to cooperate with government investigators, regulatory examiners, law enforcement officials, and non-governmental regulators with oversight of our business, such as securities exchanges. All employees must also cooperate with such authorities, as well as with internal US First Capital investigations. Failure to cooperate with such investigations or examinations will result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.
US First Capital persons are encouraged to notify their managers or the Office of General Counsel of any inquiries or requests or demands for information from external investigators. Please note that US First Capital will not penalize any US First Capital person who lawfully provides information to any regulatory or law enforcement agency, to Congress, or to any US First Capital supervisor or counsel conducting an investigation of an alleged violation of federal or state laws, rules or regulations.
Many countries have privacy and data protection laws and regulations that govern the collection, access, use, storage, security and sharing of personal information about individuals, including individual clients, prospects and employees. To comply with these laws and regulations, US First Capital has developed a set of privacy policies and guidelines, including the US First Capital Global Privacy Pledge and Employee Privacy Pledge, which apply to all US First Capital entities and employees and serve as the baseline for how we handle personal information.
Privacy related questions can be directed to the applicable business group’s privacy contact or the Office of General Counsel.
“Tying” arrangements, in which clients are required to purchase one product or service as a condition to another’s being made available to them, are unlawful in certain instances. Consult the Office of General Counsel for advice about tying restrictions.
US First Capital policy requires compliance with economic sanctions imposed by the laws of every country in which US First Capital does business. Economic sanctions may be directed at the governments of certain countries, designated individuals or entities, as well as certain activities. Employees are required to take appropriate steps to comply with economic sanctions, including being familiar with the various sanctions programs, responding to inquiries from the Office of General Counsel and taking adequate steps to ensure that they “know their client.”
In addition, U.S. law and US First Capital policy, prohibit participation in boycotts against countries friendly to the United States, such as the Arab boycott of Israel. Furthermore, violations of the anti-boycott provisions are a criminal offense. Examples of activities that may be perceived as participating in a boycott include refusing, or requiring another person to refuse, to do business with a boycotted country, its business concerns, its residents, or nationals. US First Capital may be required to report these requests, even though the request was refused. All employees are required to immediately bring such requests to the attention of the Office of General Counsel.
Industry regulations require reporting of certain client complaints to the appropriate regulatory organization(s). Employees who receive a client complaint are required to report the complaint immediately (even if they believe the complaint to have no merit) according to established procedures and must, under any circumstances, bring any client complaint to the attention of management. Employees involved with the review, reporting, and/or resolution of a client complaint are obligated to perform their responsibilities promptly and within the established timeframes.
US First Capital is required to maintain and report certain information regarding arrests or criminal charges against an employee, as well as certain civil actions, including findings by regulatory agencies. U.S.-based employees who are the subject of one of these reportable events must immediately notify their manager of the charge and report the event on their EARS compliance disclosure form. Employees based in jurisdictions outside of the U.S. should follow local notification practices.
Use the company’s information and communication tools properly and judiciously.
US First Capital has strict policies on use of the Internet and on written and electronic communications. Employees should not authorize the use of US First Capital’s name in connection with vendor promotions or testimonials without the approval of Corporate Communications. Employees should not sign releases or agreements provided by an event host company, but rather should obtain US First Capital’s standard agreement for speaking engagements/presentations from Corporate Law or Marketing.
Only authorized connections to the Internet are permitted and access must be accomplished via an approved secure gateway. US First Capital employees are not permitted to link to the Internet from US First Capital offices via modem dial-up services or other external service providers without the express approval of the Office of General Counsel.
Employees should exercise good judgment when using the Internet for personal reasons during business hours. Under US First Capital policy, employees may not:
No US First Capital person may establish an e-mail address or domain name that attempts to trade on, or is derived from, the US First Capital name. If such use is identified, immediate relinquishment will be required. Employees should not register domain names on the firm’s behalf and may not establish Internet websites related to US First Capital business without approval from their business unit head, Corporate Communications and the Office of General Counsel. Approved Internet websites must follow the format and technical specifications provided by Corporate Communications and must be reviewed by business unit counsel in the Office of General Counsel.
Employees must ensure their system passwords are secure. Inappropriate conduct with respect to the use of US First Capital’s communications systems will lead to disciplinary action, which may include revocation of privileges, termination of employment and referral to regulatory authorities.
Electronic communications should be treated with the same care as any other business communication; Electronic communications must be of an appropriate nature, must not violate the legal rights of US First Capital, any US First Capital person or third party, and must be transmitted, stored and accessed in a manner that safeguards confidentiality and complies with applicable law. All written communications, including those electronically delivered, should be clear, concise and professional in tone and content. Communications for personal, non-business purposes should be kept to a minimum. All e-mails – both business and personal – must conform to US First Capital standards of behavior. No e-mail received or sent from a US First Capital account can include sexually explicit images or messages or racial, ethnic or other slurs that may defame, embarrass, threaten, offend or harm another person. Similarly, no email may transmit any copyrightable material without the consent of the material’s owner or publisher.
All electronic communications relating to US First Capital business must be made through the US First Capital network unless the Office of General Counsel has expressly authorized another means. Electronic communications, including e-mails and connections to Internet and Intranet websites using US First Capital computing or network resources, are the property of US First Capital and are subject to monitoring and surveillance. Communications by certain US First Capital personnel are subject to detailed supervisory requirements. Employees are reminded to consult the relevant policies and procedures for their business area.
Promptly report illegal and unethical behavior.
Protecting the company’s reputation is everyone’s job. Every person has an obligation to question situations that may violate the company’s standards of business conduct and to promptly report illegal and unethical behavior.
The company conducts periodic audits of compliance with these Guidelines and the underlying firm polices. Allegations of wrongdoing will be investigated and may be reported to the Board of Directors (or an appropriate committee thereof) and to the relevant authorities. Knowingly false accusations of misconduct will be subject to disciplinary action. All persons are required to cooperate fully with any internal or external investigation, and must maintain the confidentiality of any investigation and related documentation, unless specifically authorized by the Legal Department to disclose such information.
Penalties for violations of the Guidelines and firm polices may include counseling, reprimand, warning, suspension with or without pay, demotion, salary reduction and termination of employment. Disciplinary action may also extend to a violator’s manager insofar as the company determines that the violation involved the participation of the manager or reflected the manager’s lack of diligence.
Any person who takes any action whatsoever in retaliation against an employee who has in good faith raised any question or concern about compliance with the Guidelines or firm polices will be subject to serious sanctions, which may include termination of employment.
All persons are expected to act quickly and effectively against violations of the Guidelines and the firm’s policies and procedures. Employees are obligated to report any known or perceived violation of law, regulation or company policy and Guidelines to the Ethics and Compliance Hotline. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these Guidelines , you should consult with your manager or your local Employee Services Group representative. Please see the Employee Services Group website for details.
Reports can be made confidentially, but the company will investigate all reports and the promise of confidentiality is limited by the need to investigate. Although complete confidentiality cannot be assured depending on the nature of the complaint and the need to investigate, every effort will be made to protect the confidentiality of the source.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding these Guidelines:
Complaints can be submitted anonymously.
The USFC Ethics Oversight Committee resolves any issues regarding these Guidelines, including potential violations and certain exceptions, and will review the information from the Ethics and Compliance Hotline. The committee includes USFC’s general auditor, general counsel, principal compliance executive and chief administrative officer.
The company can be held criminally liable if one of its employees or agents commits certain crimes. You must promptly report any knowledge or information about employment-related conduct by another employee or agent of the corporation that you reasonably believe to be:
The Audit Committee has established procedures for the receipt, retention and treatment of complaints regarding accounting, internal accounting controls or auditing matters. You may raise any such concerns to the Ethics and Compliance Hotline. You will not be retaliated against for reporting information in good faith in accordance with this policy.
The company will not tolerate retaliation against those who in good faith, report a violation or possible violation of law or policy. As provided by law, the company is not permitted to fire, demote, suspend, harass or discriminate against any employee who
Anyone who retaliates or imposes any detriment in violation of these principles can, in certain circumstances, be held civilly and criminally liable, and in all instances is subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
Waivers will only be given when deemed absolutely appropriate under the circumstances and then strictly in accordance with the procedures established by the Guidelines and the USFC Policy Manual and other policies. A waiver for any US First Capital executive officer or member of the Board of Directors will only be granted by the Board of Directors or a committee thereof. Any such waiver granted by the Board of Directors will be promptly disclosed as required by law or regulation.
Use good judgment. These Guidelines for Business Conduct provide specific guidelines for ethical conduct in broad areas of concern. It would be impossible to describe every situation in which a US First Capital person might be confronted with an ethical dilemma. Everyone must take the time to think about the ethical ramifications of questionable situations, bearing in mind that a bad ethical decision may lead to improper or even criminal behavior.
The Office of General Counsel is available to assist with business conduct and ethical issues that give you concern. Nevertheless, in many instances, you must rely on your own personal ethical standards in assessing difficult situations. Consider the following questions:
US First Capital expects all US First Capital persons to make a commitment to observe the highest ethical standards and exercise good judgment in all business dealings on behalf of the company.