my husband doesn’t want to comply with my company’s trading policy

A reader writes:

I am an accountant in Australia. Three weeks ago, I joined a global company which has an investment arm. A few days ago, everyone else in my department got an email saying that our designation had changed to make us “access persons” and we had to comply with an attached personal trading policy, and would have to log into a new system and declare securities we hold by January 9. I didn’t have time to read the PDF but mentioned it to my husband because, although I don’t have shareholdings, he has some under my name, as well as some under his own dating back to a time when he wasn’t tax-resident and I was.

The last day before the Christmas break, I carefully read the info and it turns out that for my designation, I have to declare all non-ETF securities that my spouse holds as well as my own, AND that neither myself or my spouse can enter into trades without submitting them to my employer for pre-clearance. (For people who actually work in the investment arm, spouses are totally banned from any trading!) I rang my husband to let him know and his reaction was: “I won’t do that. I don’t mind declaring but I won’t ask permission.”

I forwarded him the PDF and he got very testy, insisting there must be a minimum amount (no) or that there was a way to request exemption for spouses (no). Eventually he recognized there wasn’t and said he’d need to look at it further. I was very calm after the initial surprise and phrased the situation as: “You’ll need to let me know very soon, because if you don’t comply I will need to leave my job” rather than “You have to do it.” He said maybe he’d divest all his holdings (<100K) and put money into ETFs instead and we left it there.

Partly by necessity and partly by design, I had held the latter half of the conversation in full hearing of the finance team. To maximize my transparency, I pulled my boss into a meeting room and said: “You might have overheard the words ‘have to leave my job’ in that phone call I just had. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving my job. My husband’s not in finance and didn’t like the trading policy and I thought best to make the consequences of non-compliance clear to him.” Boss smiled awkwardly (can’t blame him) and said “Everything all right then?” I said yes.

But I don’t know if it IS all right. I don’t want to push my husband on this at least for a few days after Christmas, but I’m concerned that rather than (a) comply like a normal person or (b) divest all his holdings as he suggested, he might (c) get rid of the stuff under my name but make it clear that what I don’t know won’t hurt me for the rest.

I have no intention of lying to my organization, so what should I do? Australian employee protection laws are strong but even if I weren’t under introductory probation, refusing to comply with a company policy is surely grounds for termination anyway. Should I go to HR? Somebody in compliance?

For background information and armchair psychologists: We each contribute to a joint account but do not have merged finances, we could afford for me to lose my job, and he is being treated for major depression and PTSD. His therapist identified narcissistic tendencies.

Ugh. I think this ideally wouldn’t be a “you have to do this” conversation but rather a “this is what my job requires; let’s talk about how to proceed” conversation.

I don’t think he’s wrong in bristling at having this sprung on him unilaterally. Naive, maybe — but not wrong to be put off by it. That doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t ultimately comply, but it should be a conversation to work through what makes sense for the two of you as a partnership, rather than him just being told he has to do it for your job.

Now, it’s probably likely that once you have that conversation, you’ll both conclude that it doesn’t make sense to jeopardize your job over this — but it really does need to be a discussion first, if for no other reason than out of respect for him as an independent person with free will.

However, if you talk it through and you still don’t see eye-to-eye, at that point I’d get advice from someone with expertise on these policies about what the potential consequences are if your husband does go the “what you don’t know and what isn’t in your name won’t hurt you” route, and whether it makes sense to alert your company that you worry that’s a possibility (which is expertise that I don’t have, unfortunately).

{ 509 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Jb

    US CPA here. If Australia is similar, then this is pretty serious as it relates to independence rules for CPAs. Essentially, key people and their immediate families can’t hold ownership of companies under audit or with certain other client relationships with the firm. Audit/consulting firms have various ways to manage this, but the consequences of getting it wrong are penalties for the firm and loss of license for the CPA. Because the rules are so complex, I could easily see why a firm would have a “Our legal compliance people have to clear all your holdings and trades” policy for both the firm’s and employees’ sakes.

    Reply
    1. Jessesgirl72

      That’s what I was thinking. This isn’t really a case of the company making these unreasonable and arbitrary demands. I imagine that there are laws requiring this unless things are a lot more different in Australia than I imagine them to be.

      If the OP’s husband refuses to comply, it’s not just that she will lose her job when he’s caught. Both she and the firm will be in serious legal trouble!

      OP, if you really think your husband is willing to risk, not only your career, but legal trouble for you both, I wouldn’t be considering leaving the job. I would consider leaving the marriage (and I am NOT one who would usually say something like that! But this is serious!)

      Reply
      1. Anonymoose

        Because divorcing is so much better than coming to an understanding between partners during difficulties? Yeesh, tough crowd.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          She said she is afraid that he will agree to do what the company asks, but will instead lie to her and the company and hide his holdings. That’s a pretty big “difficulty” ;)

          Plus, we don’t even need to armchair diagnose him with (a touch of) narcissism, since she so helpfully gave us his therapists diagnosis!

          Reply
            1. Jessesgirl72

              She said she is afraid that instead of complying like a normal person (her words) or divesting, he will instead “get rid of the stuff under my name but make it clear that what I don’t know won’t hurt me for the rest.”

              That is the part I’m addressing. If she really thinks he will do that, she has serious problems unrelated to her job, but ones that might impact it.

              Reply
    2. Government Worker

      I’m not a CPA but worked at a financial services firm, and I took it as an insider trading/frontrunning prevention measure. If the OP is an “access person” I take that to mean that given her job she might be able to say, find out that the investment arm is thinking of buying a big chunk of Company A stock, buy some herself before the big transaction goes through, and then sell it at a profit when the price is driven up by the large purchase by OP’s company. Or, in reverse, sell her personal stock in Company A right before OP’s company divests to avoid losing money.

      And yeah, in the US I don’t think the SEC would care that you claimed not to know what your husband was doing if he ended up doing something that raised flags for illegal activity.

      Reply
      1. Anonymoose

        Yep, Old Job was a financial firm with trading and insurance arms. We didn’t have to ask permission but we did have to disclose if we had a certain type of security, in hopes to circumvent insider trading.

        Frankly, I barely understood the form and signed it as a new hire claiming that I didn’t have anything worth disclosing and never saw the form or heard the topic again. I wasn’t a financial rep so my risk was lower anyway.

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      2. Brisvegan

        In Australia the husband buying stocks affected by OP’s knowledge would probably fit the definition of insider trading, unless you could prove there was no transfer of any sort of information. Benefits to family are included in the definition. OP, you probably know this!

        IAAL, but I am not your lawyer, so please get legal advice if you are at all concerned. (If you husband continues to trade, I actually think you have some cause to be concerned.)

        Reply
        1. snuck

          Yup. This is how I’m reading this.

          It’s possible the company you work for is setting up a policy that they believe will protect them from insider trading issues… but it’s possible that this policy contravenes other laws. It will come down to the information you have access to.

          FWIW I’ve worked in a major investment firm in Australia (but not at the coal front of investments) and had to sign something similar (mine was that I’d disclose all holdings, not that I’d ask for permission, which I guess is actually quite different), but there was never any follow up.

          A colleague had come from working for a mining company investment company (a company that assessed up and coming mining stocks and made recommendations to other investment companies on those stocks) and even they were exempt and fine – because they were using publicly available information to make their judgements on – no insider trading if the information that is being used to assess and buy/sell is publicly available.

          BUT… when I worked in a mining company for a short term contract… I had to sign some pretty heavy handed stuff (because we were in the midst of a takeover, which I wasn’t part of, but was around the office for), and wasn’t allowed to have myself or my family trade stocks without permission.

          I guess I’m saying it’s situational. As for your husband hiding his stocks and holdings? Well… another way around this could be to set up a trust – that’s still hiding them though, just makes them less easy/obvious to find. If you are genuinely in a situation where you are accessing specialised information then I’d make a deal with him never to trade the affected stocks, or if he won’t agree to that realise that you can NEVER talk to him about work stuff that could influence those decisions, and while you guys are financially independent, and you sound like you might file separate tax returns, there’s still a joint component to them, and given your profession there’s going to be an assumption that you know at least a bit of what’s going on in his world for this… So don’t own relevant shares, or if you do… don’t trade them… or follow company policy… The company can’t stop you buy/selling… but they can terminate your employment at the time if you are doing something they consider illegal… so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it at the time (and your husband). How many shares are you talking about – how often does he trade? In what fields?

          Reply
          1. Darren

            I’ve worked in Investment Banks in Australia the last nearly 10 years. This is a pretty standard compliance policy, mostly to protect the company from insider trading risks (they have made clear steps to ensure you aren’t trading based on the information and therefore can usually avoid a lot of fines, the immediate termination if the policy is being violated is for the same reason makes it clear the company takes this seriously).

            There are ways around it (without running afoul of the policy) should you not want to divest yourself entirely. Basically you have to have a fund manager manage your funds for you (instead of self-managing them). You can even have this fund manager be your brother or something (the policy only covers the spouse and the partner), you just have to make it clear that you yourself don’t make the trading decisions.

            Don’t try and skirt the policy if the company discovers your husband is still trading you will be immediately terminated for cause (and yes this is a legitimate reason for dismissal).

            Reply
      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        Yep, same here. I just started a job with an investment firm, and I have to move over any investment I actually have control over to my employer firm, because my firm has to be aware of any trading activity I undertake.

        And yes, if this were the US, the SEC/FINRA would not give a flip if the wife claimed to be unaware. Spouses are “affiliated persons” and fall under the same rules as the agents/representatives/insiders.

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      4. Jill

        My husband’s friend is a magazine writer in New York who covers wall street. He and his wife are prohibited from trading – and he’s just a magazine writer! But because of his job, he can become aware of insider information and act on it before the general public can so it’s a huge issue, even for reporters/writers in the field.

        It sounds like OP wants to wait out the holidays before pushing this, but she really needs to start the conversation sooner rather than later. This doens’t sound like it’s the company’s concern – its more of an issue of how this couple handles job issues that relate to their personal issues, such as how they handle finances. I don’t think the OP’s HR needs to be involved at all.

        Reply
    3. HB

      Another US CPA here. Some of the larger firms make it slightly “easier” by having an online platform where you can track everything you’ve reported. But yes, this is very serious. Annoying, sure, but serious.

      That said, this sounds like a relationship issue, chiefly, as even if we all think that this requirement is a pain in the rear it’s still a requirement and the company most likely (based on my knowledge of the US) be able to do anything to grant your husband an exception. Thinking that your husband may lie to you and jeopardize your career can’t feel too good.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Would it extend to mutual funds, or are they covered by the same exception as ETFs? Does it extend to activity in people’s retirement accounts as well?

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        1. Government Worker

          Mutual funds are usually covered in the places I’ve seen, on the same theory as ETFs. They’re worried about knowledge gained through your job letting you have an unfair advantage in the stock market, so it’s individual stocks that are the concern. It would apply to retirement accounts as well, but most people only have mutual funds in their retirement accounts so it doesn’t come up that much.

          When you get married you’re essentially telling the government to look at you and your spouse as a single financial unit. That comes with a variety of pluses and minuses around taxes and such, but also these kinds of restrictions. You can’t get around insider trading laws by putting the stock in your spouse’s name – the government considers that still using the information to your own benefit.

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          1. Sensual shirtwaist

            This might be another letter where county really really matters. In NZ, and I gather from my Australian colleagues, in Australia as well, a married couple is not actually a single economic unit. You each file your own taxes on your own income and investments. It’s a loophole big enough to drive a truck through, which is probably why the regulation that the op has to comply with exists, but would explain why the op was surprised

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            1. Amber T

              I work in compliance in an investment firm in the US and this issue is a pain in the butt. It absolutely varies country to country, but it’s not just a filing-tax issue. In my company (and I suspect in most similar firms), it’s any immediate relative that shares your household – husband/wife, mother/father, son/daughter. There were talks about expanding it to anyone who lives in your household (i.e., non-blood related roommate) but nothing ever came from that. It has more to do with sharing (accidentally or not) information.

              We have an online program where you type in what stock you want to buy and it automatically approves or rejects. An employee’s husband is a day trader, so he has access (with permission) to the program and will input what he’s looking to buy. It’s an extra step that is a pain, sure, but the consequences of not having these checks in place far outweighs the hassle.

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        2. F.

          In the USA, it extends to any account where *you* controlled the trades. In other words, you don’t control what a mutual fund trades in, so that would be okay.

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          1. HB

            Precisely. Because I’m lazy and not much of a trader I just moved everything to a mutual fund. It’s a popular option.

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            1. Jessesgirl72

              Warren Buffet says he tells people to do exactly what he’s set up for his wife when he dies- all the money into a Vanguard. You’re not going to make extreme amounts of money from it, but you’ll make about the average and it’s safe. He doesn’t think there’s any need for more than that for people who don’t love the market like he does.

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              1. TootsNYC

                Though, if the OP’s husband is investing in individual stocks, then it sounds like this is an activity he takes seriously. So it’s not going to be as appealing to him as it might to Warren Buffet’s wife, who may prefer to not suddenly need to spend so much energy learning about all the companies she’d need to investigate to manage a diversified portfolio.

                But if he’s the sort to be willing to lie to her, then he’s probably not that unlikely to actually participate in insider trading, based on what he picks up from her unbeknownst to her. There’s just a basic “willingness to fudge” that’s troubling. And then they’ll catch him, and she’ll be in trouble.

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                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  But even if he doesn’t engage in insider trading, lying to her about what he’s doing could put her license at risk (so she doesn’t just lose her job, she could lose her livelihood). This seems mind-bogglingly destructive, to me.

              2. BananaPants

                I’m not an investment professional by any means and index funds are just so easy. Fidelity, Vanguard, etc. mutual funds are all fairly safe investments that should give a reasonable return in the long run.

                My 401(k) investments in mutual funds are spread over a couple of categories (index funds, large cap, small cap, international, etc.) but I don’t have any single stock holdings. The odds of me being able to play the market better than mutual fund managers who get paid a boatload of money to do it are exceedingly slim.

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          2. LBK

            Hmm, you don’t control the individual holdings in a mutual fund but you still control whose funds you purchase. If the concern is potential conflict of interest with firms you may be auditing, I’m not sure why mutual funds would be exempt (although I’m also not sure why ETFs would be exempt then).

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            1. Government Worker

              It’s generally assumed that even if you know some inside information about one company, you’re not going to be able to game the market by buying and selling a fund that owns that stock as one of dozens or hundreds.

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              1. LBK

                Gotcha – I wasn’t thinking about specific insider trading-esque knowledge, I was thinking more along the lines of letting things go on an audit for a company you have a vested interest in. Even if failing an audit doesn’t impact the stock price and allow you to game the market that way, it can still impact the company in a potentially undesirable way for someone who owns their products, whether that product is a stock or a mutual fund.

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                1. jb

                  Yeah, the CPAs responding to this thread have slightly but significantly different takes than the investment firm people.

                2. LBK

                  And I’m neither – most of my work has kind of been between the two :) So I have a mixed frame of reference.

            2. fposte

              When you say “whose funds” do you mean the mutual fund company? I don’t think they care if you’re buying Schwab or Fidelity funds because they’re just the supermarket you’re going to–you don’t have stock *in* them, just stock *from* them. (Vanguard might be more complicated because you do own Vanguard.)

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              1. mskyle

                You can buy mutual funds through Schwab or Fidelity or Vanguard, but the mutual funds themselves are also being managed by a company. It could be the same company as the company where you have your brokerage account (I mostly hold Vanguard index funds in a Vanguard brokerage account) but it could be different (I have the option to buy funds from a company like American Funds in my Vanguard brokerage account or in my Fidelity workplace retirement account).

                So if American Funds were one of my clients, it might be possible for there to be a insider trading risk there, like if I had inside knowledge that an actively managed fund was about to dump or dramatically increase its holdings of a security. Or a potential conflict of interest if, say, I held a large position in an American Funds mutual fund and was then assigned to do some kind of audit related to the fund.

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                1. LBK

                  That’s not a bad point; you may not be able to manipulate the fund price itself, but if you know there’s a large change in allocation into one of the underlying funds, you could separately game the price of that stock. I guess the question is what the magnitude of that change would have to be in order for it to make enough of a difference in stock price for you to play with it and how often changes of that size are made. I’d guess the convergence of those factors is so rare that the SEC or whoever isn’t too concerned about it.

                2. fposte

                  Yes, I could see that happening–if Fidelity was dumping something from the Contrafund, say, that would have a pretty big impact. But apparently that’s not something policy considers worth policing, from the sound of it; kind of interesting, as that may be a weakness that has yet to be exploited enough for anybody to make policy about it.

                3. Zahra

                  The thing is, if you need approval to buy shares, then it’s covered by OP’s employer’s policy.

        3. CAA

          There’s also the option of using a blind trust. Of course by definition, you have no idea what you own or are trading in, but your trustee doesn’t have to get permission.

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          1. Amber T

            Would that still apply to married couples? Guessing it could vary country to country, but I would think (and could be wrong) that marriage would trump that?

            Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Yes. There’s also the point that, in terms of sheer logic, her not knowing he holds the positions wouldn’t mean that she didn’t pass him information he found useful.

          Reply
    4. fposte

      Wow, I can see how that would be something a firm would want to implement, but it’s also a crazy onerous policy in the modern world. I don’t do a lot of trading, but I’m sure not interested in having to get permission from my spouse’s employer every time I tax loss harvest. And how long would that permission take, anyway?

      So while it’s possible I don’t fully understand the situation due to not knowing the company or Australian protocols, I gotta say I’m feeling the husband’s resentment here. Not that that means everything has to go his way, but that I think you don’t have to have narcissistic tendencies to find this a big imposition.

      Reply
      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        This is actually completely common in asset management firms in the US (hedge funds and private equity is my specific experience). It sounds totally onerous and invasive, but most of these firms use online systems that employee brokerage accounts can be fed into automatically. All employees have to do is get this set up, and then request permission for any trades. Approvals to trade can come from auto generated lists (there’s a typically a list that can not be traded or specific maket caps/industries/regional sectors that are banned) so anything not on the list is oked automatically.

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        1. Anonymoose

          I didn’t have to ask permission when I was working at ‘large financial/insurance F500 company’. They asked us to *disclose* holdings, not request permission ahead of time. That’s the key difference and likely what OP’s husband is having issues with.

          Side topic, there seems to be a large push culturally to manage each other’s money/holdings within the Firm and I wonder if OP’s Firm is the same way (is yours?). If so, I think Husband will be even more perturbed when OP comes home saying that not only does she need to seek permission but that it was aggressively ‘suggested’ to move all their assets to Firm.

          So glad I’m no longer in the field.

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          1. Mike C.

            Whoa, I’d be really uncomfortable with that, unless there was a significant discount in fees. Even then, I would demand someone with a fiduciary rather than suitability standard managing my money.

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            1. fposte

              My cynical bet is that if they were meeting the fiduciary standard there wouldn’t be such a push to bring money in.

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            2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

              Well, at least for the US, there’s good news about that :) Fiduciary rules just got tightened so that basically any level of money management going on subjects the manager to fiduciary standards.

              Reply
              1. sam

                well, the rules don’t take effect until april.

                And a whole new administration takes office between now and then so…

                my guess is it’s 50/50 that it happens.

                Reply
          2. Amelia

            Yeah, but the level of control/oversight depends on your job in the firm – someone who works in IT for a financial firm is going to have way different access to an auditor. OP is a CPA!

            Reply
      2. jb

        They are highly unlikely to say no. If the husband is buying a stake in a significant firm client, or a client they need the wife to be involved in services for, yes, but for the most part this is just a “We need to know which current and/or future clients we can’t assign you to” measure.

        Also, it sounds like she is at least somewhat senior and the policy only applies to people at her level, which jibes with my experience from being in Public.

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      3. LBK

        Wow, I can see how that would be something a firm would want to implement, but it’s also a crazy onerous policy in the modern world.

        I think Jb’s point was that it’s not something the firm just decided on their own to implement, it’s a legally required measure enforced by an outside regulatory body. The firm doesn’t get leeway to say no to following those.

        I work for a company that’s been severely affected by the recent DOL rulings regarding providing investment advice, and as challenging as those requirements have been to meet, we don’t have an option. It’s either change the way we do business or stop doing business; there’s no middle ground.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          It seems like it isn’t a legally required measure, though, just a common policy to ensure the company is legally safe. That doesn’t mean it’s an unreasonable policy (especially now that I know more about the details), but I think it needs to be owned as policy and not law.

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          1. jb

            Exactly. The legal requirement is “(individual) Don’t trade based on inside information, and (firm) don’t give inside information on a company to someone who has a stake in said company.” This policy is the standard way to deal with it across both the audit/consulting and investment management industries.

            Because this hasn’t come up in the LW’s career before, I’ll bet she’s in investment management, since the independence rules are beaten into CPAs’ heads from staff level on. This job is probably her first promotion to the level where they’re super serious about this type of thing.

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          2. LBK

            Hmm, the letter doesn’t seem to specify either way. But it doesn’t necessarily matter; I think the OP is wildly unlikely to get an exception, especially if the reason is nothing more compelling than her husband not wanting to do it (which honestly might only raise more red flags to the company about what his holdings are). It’s still basically giving an ultimatum that either he has to comply or she has to quit. I don’t know that there’s a compromise to be made here.

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            1. fposte

              Yeah, I agree that it doesn’t make much difference for the OP in the end; I just don’t like the smokescreen of “Nothing to do with me, it’s the law” when it’s not.

              I think there may be a compromise, actually–not one where somehow he doesn’t observe the policy and it’s okay, but one between the responses laid out in the letter where he either moves everything out of individual equities or he breaks the rules. Right now the OP is, understandably, focused on “OMG you’re going to lose me my job” but really isn’t paying attention to “OMG you just surprised your spouse with restrictions on his money.” With most people, expanding the conversation to acknowledge that second fact is really important, and saying “Hey, you’re right, this was a shock, and I’m sorry. But it may be surprisingly easy for you to keep trading the way you wanted–can we talk to somebody about how it might work?” might get them to a better place.

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              1. LBK

                I commented about this below, but I think when you live in a world of rules and regulations, you get accustomed to just doing whatever you’re told to do. I can see how it wouldn’t occur to the OP that she would even need to raise this as a discussion rather than just telling him it needed to be done.

                Of course, now that approach has clearly gotten a bad reaction, so I think you’re right that she needs to do some backtracking and acknowledge his concerns (while still holding firm that there’s nothing she can do about them, whether it’s because of the law or not).

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                1. AthenaC

                  Plus, everyone seems to be thinking she “just sprung this on him.” She didn’t – she mentioned in general terms that Things had changed weeks ago, and just got into the details recently. I would have expected the husband to be prepared that this was a possibility.

                2. fposte

                  Yeah, I do to some extent live in a world of rules and regulations, as a state employee and somebody supervising federal grants, and I agree that it seems normal to the person in it. But I think it’s a mistake to assume you’re automatically entitled to the compliance of anybody else in your family (or, for that matter, outside of it–I’ve had vendors unwilling to deal with the state bureaucracy as well), no matter how obvious it seems to those of us swimming in the waters.

                3. fposte

                  @AthenaC–but why would somebody who *isn’t* in the industry anticipate this as a possibility when the person in the industry apparently didn’t herself?

                4. halpful

                  I’ll second the acknowledgement advice. Even (especially?) if it’s all irrational Feeeeeelings, acknowledging them should help dispel the FLEAS. I think? I’m getting into a “what if that’s what it WANTS me to think” loop now. :/

              2. KellyK

                I just don’t like the smokescreen of “Nothing to do with me, it’s the law” when it’s not.

                I agree. This is a frustrating smokescreen. I’ve been in a couple situations where “The IRS says we have to,” is used to shut down discussion of options.

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      4. NJ Anon

        I agree! If I were him, I would be annoyed as well. And btw, did it not bother anyone else (haven’t read all the comments) that Op “Partly by necessity and partly by design, I had held the latter half of the conversation in full hearing of the finance team.”

        I mean, seriously? Why would you even do that?

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        1. One of the Sarahs

          I’m assuming she did it that way so if the husband DIDN’T do it, she had witnesses to show that she told him the requirements?

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          1. KellyK

            That’s what I got from it too, but it seemed unnecessarily combative to start off with. If she feels like she needs that amount of CYA with her husband, that’s worrying.

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      5. AnonForThis

        How long does permission take? It can take weeks at which point the market has moved and you may no longer want to sell.

        I was in IT in an Investment Bank in Australia. I had disclose any stock holdings and go through a clearance process to be able to sell them. Lots of coworkers I knew lost money by the time their embargo would be cleared, even with an online platform in place. Fortunately for me the stocks I had were from former employers that I had no intention of ever selling because I was holding them as long term blue chip stocks and letting the dividend reinvest. However it’s always really funny that the people find out I worked in finance that assume I traded shares on the side. When I inform them how difficult it is they are really surprised I guess the average person still assumes everything is like Wolf of Wall Street.

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        1. Anon 2

          I work in a hedge fund branch of a F500. Our clearings take no more than 48 hours via online platform, most are cleared by end of business day if entered before 10a.

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      6. Erica

        I agree. If some company I had no affiliation with started demanding access to my finances, I’d find that incredibly invasive.

        I would also be extremely annoyed (to put it mildly) that these policies were (apparently) not disclosed as a requirement of her job BEFORE she accepted the position. I think that’s an utter crap thing to do to an employee, basically “comply or become unemployed” rather than giving them the option to decide if the job was worth this giant price tag it came with *before* leaving their previous job. That’s some pretty mixed signals on how important it is, too — it’s Absolutely Required but not important enough to mention while you’re discussing all other job requirements and salary? Yet it also seems like financial firms do this All The Time. It’s been done twice to me, and in both cases I wasn’t even legally an employee (I was a contractor through an agency), and neither company mentioned a thing to me about this until I’d already been working there for several weeks to months. I don’t have or need access to private financial information to do my job, either — I’m in marketing and the entire point of my job is to make information public. If you’re giving me private information, you’re doing it wrong.

        If they’d mentioned that it was a requirement up front, I would have been perfectly willing to tell them what I could and couldn’t agree to before accepting the job. I still did tell them, when they finally got around to it, which then left them in the awkward position of having to decide if they were willing to give up someone who had already been doing good work for them, and re-doing the hassle of finding and training someone else.

        Such a thing is worse for the OP, since the decision clearly doesn’t just affect her, and she would have had no opportunity to discuss it with her husband before getting the the point of “comply or be unemployed.” The company has put her in a terrible position of having to make a choice between her job or her family because it effectively eliminated her other options (e.g. keeping her prior job, or accepting a different offer). I don’t like having decisions that affect me being made for me without my input or agreement, and certainly not legally binding ones, and I can’t blame the husband for feeling the same way.

        That said, if I’m wrong and the company did disclose this before the OP accepted the job, then: what the hell, OP? Why wouldn’t you discuss it with your husband back then?

        Reply
    5. AthenaC

      You beat me to it – I work in the US for a Big 4 firm, and I’m an audit manager. Sounds a lot like the Australian version of independence. Which, as Jb points out, has literally nothing to do with the company itself and everything to do with government regulations and professional licensing.

      OP – first, talk to your husband using the language Alison suggests. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this, but as you can see from some of the comments already here, a lot of people are having a difficult time with this, even though it’s completely normal for the industry.

      Second, I would talk to your compliance department. In the US, anyway, it’s possible to be an “innocent spouse” for tax fraud purposes, but you have to have the right paperwork in order. I wonder if there’s something similar available where you are with your company. Hopefully there is and they don’t terminate you because your spouse is uncooperative.

      If there is something available (like some sort of declaration that you and your spouse are completely separate and you don’t share any investments), you will probably have to completely financially separate from your husband – no shared investments, no shared accounts – nothing.

      I’ll be honest – I’m not totally hopeful on this for you, because there’s such a strong presumption that spouses are one unit and that they tell each other everything and act together. So that being said, it’s not my business, but sabotaging your career is not something a loving partner does.

      Good luck! And please let us know how this all works out for you!

      Reply
      1. phil

        Forget the innocent spouse thing. It’s an IRS thing only, almost impossible to prove (although I know someone who did it), and I’m pretty sure the SEC doesn’t recognize it.

        Reply
        1. AthenaC

          I wouldn’t think so either – just throwing it out there in case Australian law is different enough from US law (or AICPA rules or whatever) that there might be some SOME hope, however slight.

          Reply
        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Yeeeeeah, insider trading rules have zip-all to do with whether spouses are joint financial anythings. It has to do with the relationship.

          Reply
          1. Brisvegan

            I’m guessing from the posts here that spouses are somehow treated as a single or joint tax entity in the USA. That’s really not the case at all here in Australia. Each spouse is a completely seperate tax payer, with a seperate tax return and tax liabilities/refunds etc. A person may receive a tax deduction for a dependant spouse, or family tax benefit for dependant children based on total household income (if you register for that government payment via our social security system) but otherwise, a spouses’ income has little relevance to a married person’s tax return and liabilities. There is no such thing as joint filing for personal income tax, here.

            Tax issues would have little or no effect on the requirements to disclose trading by the OP and her spouse in Australia.

            As an Australian with legal training (but not a CPA), I am assuming that the requirements are to protect the firm and OP against allegations of insider trading and to insure that any auditing standards, ethics and legal requirements are upheld.

            Reply
      2. CanCan

        Not my field, but I would be carefull telling your company that your husband may not comply.

        If him doing so might get the company in trouble (rather than just you), your company might feel that they *are obligated* to take whatever steps in their power to prevent this. This includes not just telling you the rules, but possibly firing you if there’s a strong possibility that the rules won’t be observed (even though it may not be your fault as an individual).

        If, after your husband agrees to follow the proper protocol, you still suspect that he won’t, you should talk to a lawyer (or other relevant expert) in your country/state to determine the possible repercussions.

        Reply
    6. cobweb collector

      You misread the article. This isn’t about being a CPA. The firm has a trading arm. They’re concerned about insider information. The US has the same rules – all members of the NYSE are required to monitor their employee’s and their employee’s family’s securities transactions.

      Reply
    7. sam

      I was going to say something similar – I’m in the US, but this is most likely not so much a “company policy” as a “company policy that is being driven by legal requirements governing the industry/job you are in“.

      I’ve worked in the securities/finance industry most of my career. In the US, the SEC rules/laws governing trading ALWAYS cover not just the individual, but their “immediate family”. These rules are to help the company comply with laws governing everything from conflicts, insider trading, pay to play, etc.

      If you want this job, there is no option except to comply.

      Reply
    8. Mike C.

      In the same vein, since these sorts of rules are so typical of the industry, surely there are company programs to introduce these rules to members of the family and make it really easy for them to comply, right? This can’t be the first time there has been resistance.

      I work in highly regulated industries (regulated for health/safety/engineering compliance more so than legal/financial rules) as well, and we bend over backwards to make sure it’s easy to comply, that all questions are answered quickly and so on.

      Like I get the impression that the husband isn’t used to these sorts of environments, was shocked about the rules, feared the worst and reacted without thinking or understanding. I have a feeling that once he’s calmed down a bit and the process has been explained in greater detail, he’ll find that it’s not that big of a deal.

      Am I being unrealistic here?

      Reply
      1. Rat in the Sugar

        Personally I agree with you. I actually work in accounting, but I do all in-house work for a software company so I’ve never had to worry about this stuff, and I started to bristle instinctively when I read this letter before I remembered this policy is actually best practice. When I think about it in terms of my field (“You can’t have a conflict of interest so you have to tell your company who you’re doing business with”) it seems very reasonable, but when I think about it in more personal terms like I instinctively did at first (“You have to give personal financial info to your spouse’s company and they can set restrictions on what you can do with your money”) it feels pretty outrageous.

        I think once he gets time to think about it and if he gets someone with experience on the issue that he can talk to about it, he’ll see it’s a pretty normal thing for his spouse’s field and normally not an onerous burden or one that reaches too far into your privacy. Of course, as you and others pointed out, it looks like OP’s company is not helping her to explain all of this to him and help reassure him that this isn’t going to be Big Brother monitoring his bank account.

        Reply
      2. Elder Dog

        Sounds from here like the wife just dropped this on her husband with no warning, including not having mentioned to him this could happen back when he first started investing. Since the stock purchasing has been his balliwick for years, he’s understandably upset at the idea of giving up a money making activity he apparently enjoys and is good at just because her company suddenly decided to change things up without telling anybody ahead of time.
        I think the wife’s made two jerk moves – springing this demand on her husband, and then making a display of how “difficult” he’s being about this to her boss and co-workers. (Who does that?)
        This shouldn’t be her telling him what to do. This should be a discussion about whether or not this new position makes sense for their marriage. It might be better for her to step back down from this position rather than her unilaterally deciding what he has to do with his investments.

        Reply
        1. Undine

          It sounds like she didn’t know either, though. And if it’s a regulatory requirement of her job, backing down means leaving the job, and possibly the career, so there really is negotiation necessary on both sides.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          Who does that? A person who is getting nervous and who works under very strict rules might do this. She has to comply or she’s out a job. Rock and a hard place. While I understand that the husband maybe jarred by this news, I think that OP was thrown by it also.

          Reply
        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I think you’re reading in a lot more animus than there is. OP is an accountant, and it sounds like the compliance issues she’s facing may be new to her because she’s joined a group with an investment arm. That doesn’t mean that she purposefully misled her husband or “sprung” it on him (although I agree the convo in front of the financial team sounds super squicky to me), and she’s not unilaterally imposing this obligation—it sounds like it’s being imposed because of external laws and regulations. I imagine OP will face variations of these compliance requirements in most jobs simply due to the nature of her profession, and I’m sure she did not think husband would ask her to abandon her profession so that he can continue to trade.

          Reply
        4. Amber T

          Can’t speak for Australian law, but in the States it doesn’t matter your position in the firm. Policy regarding reporting is the same for everyone… the admins, the CFO, the accountants. The result would end up being her leaving the company, possibly the entire industry.

          I want to point out too that “asking permission” is not as big a deal as it seems. The company will probably have some sort of automatic program for employees and household. In my company, our program houses our restricted list (which the employee has access to, but family does not – the fact that it’s on a restricted list COULD (not definitely) be confidential information itself). Employee/family types in the stock tickers for Companies X, Y, and Z, program automatically approves Companies X and Z but tells them Y is restricted. The whole process takes less than two minutes. Yes, you’re prohibited from buying Y, but if employee/family buys it anyway and gets caught, that’s not an employee policy issues, that comes a government issue.

          Reply
    9. DaniCalifornia

      Thanks for this, I didn’t understand why the company had this policy nor why the husband was upset. This makes sense.

      Reply
    10. Noah

      Given that it relates to a company’s investment arm, this is almost certainly and insider trading prophylactic policy, not a CPA/audit regulation issue.

      Reply
  2. Decimus

    I’m not sure this is a work-management issue so much as a combination of relationship issue and legal issue. The first one depends on your relationship with your spouse. The second depends on what is legally being imposed (either by regulation or by contract). You might want to talk to a lawyer about the latter.

    For example, if you legally divorced but continued to live together, could he continue to trade in his own name? That’s a question for a lawyer.

    Reply
    1. AD

      It also would have been better for OP to address this with their spouse (whether it was the first time or the third/fourth/fifth time) privately rather than on the phone, in full hearing of members of the finance team (and OP’s boss from what it sounds like?).
      I’m not commenting on the specifics of their relationship, but putting someone on the spot is generally not the best way to get their buy-in.

      Reply
      1. Jessesgirl72

        He didn’t know she was in full hearing of the finance team and OP’s voice, so he wasn’t being put on the spot.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          It’s not clear to me that that’s the case, but I don’t know if that makes it better even if it’s true–either you’re putting him on the spot or you’ve got other people listening to what he thinks is a private conversation. But I’m also not clear why this was, even partly, by design–OP, what was your goal in having the finance team hear this conversation?

          Reply
          1. Connie

            To me it seemed clear that the OP’s goal was both to keep her supervisors abreast of what was going on and an element of CYA, which under these circumstances is reasonable for her to want (even if this isn’t how I had gone about it.) If OP is genuinely afraid her husband may trade behind her back, yeah, she wants her supervisors to know that she’s not down with that, at all. But whatever coverage she gets from this is inadequate to the serious repercussions that would result.

            Reply
            1. Government Worker

              This was my read on it, too. And the boss and the law seriously don’t care if the OP isn’t down with it if the husband is still trading behind her back.

              Reply
            2. A Plain-Dealing Villain

              I would be careful of how much of this discussion plays out in public simply because of the unfortunate implications around gender roles in our society. Finance is still a heavily male dominated industry, and as unfair as it may be, I’m worried OP will be seen as less competent than her male colleagues who aren’t experiencing the same difficulties with getting their wives to comply.

              Reply
            3. AD

              Right, but wouldn’t you want to clear this with your partner/spouse before having your boss/others overhear a potentially awkward conversation?
              I just don’t understand why the OP would have this conversation in full hearing of others.

              Reply
              1. AD

                I just re-read the letter and see OP’s reference to having this conversation “by design”.

                That, to me, says “relationship issues” more than standard workplace situation, IMHO. The OP either doesn’t trust her husband or feels wary of his reaction and that seems to be affecting what’s happening here.

                Reply
              2. Rusty Shackelford

                Maybe she thought he would have questions that others could answer. Maybe she’s trying to get him to understand how important and unbendable the situation is.

                Reply
              3. Connie

                I think she’s having this conversation because she doesn’t feel like she can count on her husband to have her back on this and isn’t skillful at communicating to him how serious this is, or communicating to her bosses that she may have an issue.

                Reply
              4. halpful

                The lack of understanding probably *is* why. It’s like when people go “oh but your mother seems so nice, I don’t understand why you can’t just [spend xmas with her / answer her calls / other normal thing normal people do in healthy relationships]”.

                That said, it might still have been inappropriate/unhelpful in this particular situation. But I can understand the urge to *show* people that the weirdness isn’t all in your head.

                Reply
            4. TootsNYC

              yeah, but the way to keep her supervisors abreast of this was to go and talk to them, and to be HONEST with them. And perhaps ask for guidance.

              Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              I get where you’re coming from, but we want people to feel safe submitting questions to this site.

              Reply
        2. Green

          No, but it still was really weird to have a conversation with your spouse in which you threaten to leave your job when you have no intention of doing so for the benefit of your manager…

          Reply
          1. Rusty Shackelford

            I didn’t take it as threatening to leave her job. I took it as “you are going to force my employers to fire me.”

            Reply
          2. Mostly a Lurker in DC

            In psychology its called “triangulation” (bringing a third party into a relationship unnecessarily, and with the intent to cause more problems than it resolves). I find it ironic the OP relates she did this, as it is a classic Narcissist tactic, which she states her husband exhibits traits of. Perhaps she is taking a play from a handbook she knows all too well (unfortunately).

            That move served no purpose but to make her look unprofessional, and she then doubled down on the unprofessional-ism and awkwardness by addressing the conversation directly with her boss in order to contradict what she said on the phone to her husband. She basically just went up to her boss and said “Overheard what I said on my private conversation? Good, well, I was lying to my husband and throwing down a line in the sand I dont reeaaalllyyy mean to cross. ” She brought her marriage into the workplace, to what end? What purpose did any of that serve but to let her boss know she is at odds with her husband on a serious matter?

            Reply
            1. BananaPants

              Yeah, the whole thing is icky. I don’t want to make letter writers feel like they can’t be honest, but I don’t care what the subject is – berating one’s spouse via phone from the workplace is just unprofessional. I don’t get what the objective was here, other than to make him feel like crap and make her husband look like a jerk to coworkers/managers.

              Reply
    2. Jb

      As long as she or her husband don’t own, or are not caught owning, any forbidden investments, there would be no legal consequences. But if she is not an expert on the compliance rules or aware of every business relationship her firm is in, she can’t know what investments are forbidden. Plus, if her firm doesn’t know what she owns, they don’t know what clients they can and can’t assign her to.

      Reply
        1. jb

          Yeah, this is really a service the firm is providing to her, in terms of protecting her from untoward legal consequences.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            That’s something to point out–there is a risk TO HER of being charged with insider trading. And even if she can prove she didn’t do it, she’ll have to pay for lawyers, spend time and angst, maybe get fired, a bad rep…..

            It’s a huge risk for her. Having the company do the work of tracking it, and signing off, is an advantage. That’s something to dwell on, and point out. The risk to her, and the advantage to getting the company’s protection.

            Reply
            1. sstabeler

              which I doubt the husband realises “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” – um, actually, it very much can in this case, particularly since what would look suspiciously like an attempt to cover insider trading up might actually be enough to upgrade it from a fine/probation issue to an imprisonment issue. ( that, and insider training is, in fact, a criminal offense- as in, while the SEC can fine you, they can also get you arrested)- he doesn’t seem to understand that.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                “What you don’t know won’t hurt you”

                This is not a strong perspective because the response to the husband could be what HE does not know CAN hurt him and OP.

                Another counterpoint to offer would be “I have to prove that I did not know you had done X. And how would I prove that? My word or your word alone will not hold up as proof in a court of law.” It is very difficult to prove a negative such as “not knowing” something.

                Reply
      1. Green

        Let’s not say “there would be no legal consequences” unless we’re Australian lawyers well-versed in accounting/investment rules in Australia.

        There are a few issues here — firm independence and insider trading (timing of trades). I am allowed to own shares in my company (and in fact they give me share awards as part of my compensation package), but I can’t use insider information to trade them.

        Reply
    3. Barney Barnaby

      Yeah, I read this and thought, “You need an attorney and a marriage counselor, pretty much in that order.”

      Reply
    4. sam

      There was a really interesting example of ‘unmarrieds’ skirting the rules during the Enron scandal back when that happened. Obviously there was a whole mess of different shenanigans going on, but there was one particular situation where one executive and his partner were engaging in financial activities that, if they had been married, would have been required to be disclosed under even the most basic company conflict of interest policy. But because they were gay, and couldn’t get married, there was no ‘legal’ connection between the two of them that met the definitions under the law at that time.

      I’m not remembering all of the details off the top of my head, but it was talked about in either Bethany Maclean’s or Joe Nocera’s book on the scandal (I read both).

      I pointed that out to a few people at the time as another argument in favor of gay marriage.

      Reply
        1. sam

          I think they’ve changed the rules since then to include “households” that are broader than just “spouses”. For precisely reasons such as this.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I was about to say this—I’m pretty sure the definition changed to include situations like the one sam described.

            Reply
          2. automaticdoor

            Yep! When I moved in with my now-husband, who is a public accountant in the US, I became a “spousal equivalent” by their definitions and had to share certain things with them (smaller disclosures, because he was only a senior associate).

            Reply
            1. Brisvegan

              In most of Australian Commonwealth law, spouse is defined to include de facto spouses, which include both same gender and differing gender de facto spouses.

              It would be unlikely that an Australian could avoid spousal-status based law by being unmarried and co-habiting (or living seperately, but otherwise having indicia sufficient to show a de facto spousal relationship – lots of factors can be considered).

              An Aussie probably couldn’t avoid legal consequences of the sort OP’s firm is trying to avoid like this with a divorce, followed by living as de facto spouses. (Also, our divorce law requires irretrievable breakdown of the marriage evidenced by 12 months seperation, making divorce with an ongoing de facto spousal relationship pretty hard to get.)

              Reply
              1. sstabeler

                that’s not really what people are suggesting- what they are suggesting is that if the husband is either insistent on his trading being more important than OP’s job, or worse, really does think “what OP doesn’t know can’t hurt her” and merely puts up an appearence of compliance, then it arguably should cause a reassessment of the relationship ( NOT “the job or the husband” but “does this reveal something about your husband that makes you no longer want to be married to them”- the compliance issue is merely what shines a light on the problem. (the problem being, basically, that he prioritised having as few restrictions on his hobby- and trading at the level he’s doing is a hobby- as possible over his wife’s career. )

                Reply
              2. Brisvegan

                Actually, on double checking the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) Ch 7 Pt 7.10, spousal status is irrelevant to insider trading now, in Australia. A person just has to possess information and act to trade securities or financial products (directly or indirectly, including as principle or agent or by procuring another to do so). The information can be supposition or insufficient to warrant public release.

                Thus there would be a risk if a person could suppose that a security’s market value would be affected by their spouse’s work or investment activity.

                Reply
                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  I think that’s true of almost all insider trading statutes, though.

                  I thought the question was whether the statute requires all members of the same household as the “access person” to disclose and divest their stock portfolios (assuming it’s not an EFT or mutual fund) in light of marriage equality.

    5. Jessesgirl72

      In the US, I wouldn’t take that bet. Remember that the SEC refuses to define insider trading, but takes the “we know it when we see it” approach.

      The SEC doesn’t much care if you are legally divorced or not. If they think your Ex gave you information, off you both go to jail.

      Reply
      1. Government Worker

        I’m pretty sure if the SEC thinks your paper boy gave you inside information that you knew was such and you acted on it, then off you both go to jail. The mandate reporting and a higher level of scrutiny for immediate family because that’s how it’s most likely to occur, but insider trading is illegal, full stop, regardless of how you got the information.

        Reply
        1. sam

          Yes, and the immediately family designations also apply to other regulations not related to insider trading, like conflicts of interest, which wouldn’t really exist with your paperboy :)

          Also, aside from “insider trading”, insiders (including immediate family) are just generally limited in when and how they can trade on company securities – I can only trade, or do things like change my 401k elections, during what’s known as an “open period”, which is a brief period immediately following when my company files it’s public disclosure documents – I am part of the team that actually writes those documents, so I am almost always in possession of some information about my company that means I can’t trade. My accounts are all electronically monitored by our compliance department basically so that I don’t screw up either accidentally or on purpose.

          Reply
        2. Jessesgirl72

          Yes. Exactly. :D They can’t prevent the paperboy from trading on any information you give him, but if they find out there is something going on that MIGHT have resulted in either of you making money, off you go!

          Reply
    6. snorkellingfish

      In Australia, you can’t get divorced without being separated for twelve months first, so getting a divorce for legal reasons isn’t really practical. Also, a lot of laws treat unmarried de facto couples the same as married couples anyway, so I wouldn’t expect a legal divorce to really change the LW’s obligations.

      Reply
  3. Maya Elena

    Oii. Would not have had that conversation in front of coworkers. No reason to share your battle plans before they’re formed….

    Reply
      1. Marisol

        I second that “exactly.” OP, the next time an issue like this comes up, be discreet and have the conversation with your husband only, and do it in person. If there is a reason you feel you can’t do that, then that’s something to discuss with your therapist. Bringing a third party into your relationship only makes things worse, not better, and unfortunately, I think you may have given your boss and coworkers a bad impression of you as well. Not that you can’t overcome a slight negative impression–we all make mistakes after all, and this is something that people will forget about in time–but still…it wasn’t great to do. That’s why your boss looked uncomfortable. He doesn’t want in on your relationship woes, or your strategies for manipulating your husband, nor does he want to contemplate the drama of an employee quitting over a routine compliance policy; he just wants a bottom line answer to the question of whether or not you and your husband will comply with the policy. I’m not clear on what you were trying to accomplish by having this conversation in front of the finance team, but I can’t imagine it could have helped you in any way. There is a difference between being transparent, and being indiscreet. From the standpoint of “relationship hygiene” this doesn’t feel clean; it feels dirty to me. It’s icky. I think you might benefit by reflecting on what you thought you would accomplish by using this strategy to communicate with your husband, and probably by discussing it with a therapist as well.

        Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          In fact, this is a conversation they should probably have with their therapist.

          Because it involves a lot of relationship issues, especially now.

          Reply
  4. rawr

    Hoo boy. I agree that this is a marriage issue, not a work issue, and your husband isn’t looking so good here.

    Reply
    1. MK

      Really? Because I was thinking the exact same thing about the OP.

      Look, maybe it’s reasonable for the company to ask this. And, assuming they have set up a working and prompt system for granting clearence, it may be reasonable for the OP to expect her spouse to comply with this policy for the shake of her career. But this isn’t some minor inconvenience, and I would bristle too, if I was being asked to involve my partner’s employer in my financial affairs; the husband isn’t wrong to want to consider this carefully. I am very syrprised by the OP’s attitude; she seems to think that he should just comply already, even going so far as to imply his mental health issues are relevant.

      Reply
      1. Adam V

        To be fair, I feel like this was sprung on her too – she just joined the company within the last few weeks, and the company could have known this was coming for longer than that. If that’s the case, it would have been nice for them to give her a heads-up at the very end of the recruiting process, so she could have said “oh, if the trading rules are going to become more onerous, then I’ll need to figure out [by discussing with my husband] whether that’s a deal-breaker for me to join this company after all”.

        Reply
        1. BRR

          That part stuck out to me too. It sounds like the company gave their employees very little notice. I don’t think this makes the OP or their spouse look bad. It’s just a sucky situation. I think two important questions are how much detail do you have to provide to the company and how quickly they clear requests. I know it sucks to have your or your spouse’s company this involved in your finances but it’s pretty common for certain fields.

          Reply
          1. Confused Teapot Maker

            +1 to this. There’s something a bit odd about the way this has been handled by the company. I used to work for a Big Finance Inc. and I was told what the ins and outs were on holdings, shares etc. at the same time I got my job offer, which gave me enough time to review and comply or decide thanks but no thanks. Having to make that decision after you’ve been in the job for a few weeks is a bit of a rubbish situation to find yourself in.

            Reply
      2. LBK

        But it’s not only her husband’s decision to “consider it carefully”. If he chooses not to comply, he’s forcing his wife to either quit her job or risk being fired. That’s not a decision he gets to make on his own, and it’s also one where I’m having a really hard time seeing how his side of the argument can possibly win. Unless she’s just working for pleasure and they don’t actually need her income, or there’s a massive need for people with her skills so she could easily find another job, keeping the job automatically wins, IMO.

        Reply
        1. AthenaC

          Agreed – plus there’s the experience she would have gotten if she hadn’t had to quit, the future job opportunities that she could have had … it’s massively unfair for her husband to decide for her what the trajectory of her career should be.

          Reply
        2. Statler von Waldorf

          Actually, it is a decision he gets to make on his own. If he chooses not to comply, his wife can choose to leave the marriage instead of leaving the job.

          Reply
            1. Statler von Waldorf

              Absolutely. It’s not a causal or easy choice, but it is still a choice open to either of them, and one that might make sense in this situation.

              Reply
            1. JuniorMinion

              It’s really not when you consider the penalties. My experience is with the SEC as a “registered person” (Series 7/79/63) in the US. If you don’t comply and / or if you are found to have been trading outside of an insider trading policy in any accounts in your direct family (including for minor children or dependent adults) you don’t go to court, you go to binding, sealed arbitration proceedings where the SEC / FINRA has the authority to fine you whatever they deem fit along with impose any sanctions / restrictions in conjunction with the DOJ (usually termination of ability to work anywhere in finance) and you have no opportunity to appeal. The amounts tend to be large as well. On the corporate side if you deal with material non-public information its not as serious but you would be immediately fired if found to be disseminating info/ trading in company stock outside of tightly defined windows and probably also

              I would divorce someone who couldn’t guarantee me that they would comply with securities laws / regulatory policies governing my employment and put me at risk with serious (>$100k basically guaranteed) fines as well as potential of lifetime loss of employment in my industry. I get that it is annoying, but if you as my spouse are willing to lie to me and jeopardize me to the tune of the consequences above thats a serious lack of care on your part.

              The reason you follow the firm policy is that if you clear everything with them / disclose fully all your accounts its on them to ensure compliance with insider trading so in the event your firm gets investigated its not on you as you have complied with the relevant policies

              Reply
              1. JuniorMinion

                I don’t mean to be pedantic just want to hammer home that this is a BIG deal. Akin to knowing your spouse is a doctor and sneaking some whiskey into their coffee right before they go operate.

                Reply
                1. AthenaC

                  All of which just underscores exactly why firms of a certain size have the policies they do around disclosure and monitoring everyone’s investments / relationships / etc.

              2. Jessesgirl72

                Yes. If she truly thinks he is going to lie to her, and only divest of what’s in her name, and hide the rest, then her only options are to divorce him or to quit now, before he puts her at risk.

                Reply
              3. Ask a Manager Post author

                But again, they are not at the point where the OP needs to be considering divorce. They haven’t even talked about this since the husband said he’d consider moving his money to ETFs (which was a pretty reasonable thing to say).

                Reply
                1. Gaara

                  Well, it sure seems like she doesn’t trust him not to lie to her. Apart from what he actually does with his investments, that strikes me as a serious relationship concern.

              4. Countess Boochie Flagrante

                Yeah, I agree with this. If my spouse was willing to jeopardize my ability to ever work in this entire industry ever again, I would be having a very quiet and serious talk with a lawyer post-haste.

                Reply
          1. Meg Murry

            But even if she left the marriage *tomorrow*, divorces aren’t immediate, and as long as they were still legally married she would be out of compliance with this policy if she didn’t disclose his investments.

            Now it depends on whether this policy is a company CYA policy that goes above and beyond what the law says or whether this policy is directly what the law says as to what kind of legal or work related trouble OP could be in – but even if they started divorce proceeding immediately, that wouldn’t necessarily solve OPs problems. Right now, if she is still legally married (which she will be unless Australia has some kind of instantaneous divorce), she has to log everything by January 9th or be out of compliance.

            Reply
            1. Planner Lady

              Yep, in Australia, you need to have been separated for at least a year prior to any divorce being accepted by a court. So in reality, this is an issue that needs to be resolved one way or the other – and fast.

              Reply
              1. Not So NewReader

                Yeah, it appears to me that hubby does not really have the luxury of having “time to think about it”. There is really nothing to think about as there are no options up for consideration. He either complies or she quits, one of the other.

                Reply
                1. Adam V

                  Someone suggested they jump through the initial hoops, then put all trades on hold while they decide what to do. He did sound amenable to that part, at least (he told her “I don’t mind declaring”).

        3. fposte

          But binding her husband to this isn’t a decision she gets to make on her own, either, and yet that’s how it seems to have happened. And that may be part of the issue he’s having, which would mean it would benefit the OP to acknowledge that that wasn’t fair.

          It’s not an unreasonable policy, but it has enough potential to be a big deal that it’s not something a spouse should find out they’ve unknowingly committed to after the fact. It’s like if there were a municipal government job that required its employees to live in Bigtown, as many do; if both the candidate and the spouse know this during the hiring process and are on-board, that’s one thing, but for the spouse to say “By the way, we have to move if I’m to keep my job” after starting at the job is quite another.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            But they *both* found out they’d unknowingly committed to it after the fact. The sides here are company vs. wife/husband, not company/wife vs. husband. I think the letter and ensuing conversation has reached a point where the situation is positioned as the latter, but really it’s the former. This is a choice the *company* made that affects both of them, not a choice the wife made that affects her husband.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Yes, I agree with that, and I think you’re right (if I’m understanding you correctly) that the OP is erring in leaning toward the latter in her framing to her spouse, and also in framing it as an inevitability rather than something they still have some choices in.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                Yep, you’re understanding me correctly :)

                I reread the letter and I wonder, too, if some of the reason it feels like the latter to the OP is because she just started 3 weeks ago, so she’s probably still in the “make a good impression as the new employee” stage. Plus, leaving a job is always a tough decision, but to have to put yourself back on the market when you just got off it? I certainly wouldn’t be champing at the bit to consider that option.

                Reply
                1. TootsNYC

                  Not to mention that she may have left a decent-enough job WITHOUT these restrictions for this job that HAS them.

                  But also note: When she was interviewing, the managers interviewing her didn’t know that her particular job designation was going to change. HR may not have known, even.

                  The company dropped this on her.

                  But yes: the conflict is company vs husband&wife.

          1. AnonForThisOne

            Yeah, I keep thinking about Husband’s uncle who lost ALL of his & his wife’s money without her knowledge that it was even at-risk. He took his retirement as a lump sum & day-traded it away. All of it. Their only asset is their house, which they will now be selling. They are in their 70’s & Husband’s aunt hasn’t worked full-time ever really in her life.

            Reply
      3. Jenbug

        It is very common practice for employees of companies that deal with the stock market in any capacity to have limitations placed on their personal activities in that regard. I worked for a publicly traded company (not in finance) and we had very specific rules to follow if we wanted to buy stock. It sounds like the LW has access to confidential information about business deals that could affect stock prices and they are trying to avoid insider trading.

        Reply
      4. Statler von Waldorf

        +1 for MK’s statement. The listing of her husbands mental health diagnosis at the end of the letter rubs me all the wrong ways, it screams poisoning the well. The airing of a private conversation “by design” in front of her co-workers also rubs me the wrong way, as does the phrase “comply like a normal person.”

        If I was the husband and saw my wife write this letter, I’d consult an attorney who practiced family law.

        Reply
        1. Andie Elizabeth

          TBH I sort of assumed the OP was a regular reader and knows how the commentariat can get when marriage issues come up in work-related stuff and was trying to head off questions. YMMV.

          Reply
        2. Rusty Shackelford

          And yet it does inform the conversation. It’s no different from mentioning that someone has anxiety issues, or depression, or any other number of mental/emotional issues that impact how they deal with things. It’s easier to give suggestions if you know the whole picture.

          Reply
          1. Statler von Waldorf

            The difference between poisoning the well and informing the conversation depends entirely on your point of view. I have personally experienced discrimination due to mental illness, so I’ll admit I might be overly sensitive to the subject.

            Reply
      5. paul

        Yeah, I can’t claim to know trading laws, but I can understand why someone would see this as onerous as hell; that’d be my reaction.

        Reply
      6. jb

        Because this hasn’t come up in the LW’s career before, I’ll bet she’s in investment management, since the independence rules are beaten into CPAs’ heads from staff level on. This job is probably her first promotion to the level where they’re super serious about this type of thing.

        If she is a CPA, I’d look highly askance at her claims to be surprised by this.

        Reply
        1. automaticdoor

          Agree. I’m MARRIED to a US public accountant CPA who has just been promoted to manager and I know all the ins and outs because we’ve been doing this since I moved in/we got engaged and I became a “spousal equivalent” by the firm’s rules–and he was a senior associate at the time. It’s no big deal to me at this point.

          Reply
      7. JB (not in Houston)

        Idk. I get the husband’s reluctance. I really do. I wouldn’t like it either if it were me. But I think the OP’s reaction is also reasonable. She told him “we have to do this or I’ll be fired,” and he didn’t much seem to care. I’d be hurt if my spouse’s reaction to that was “maybe I’ll let you get fired, I’m not sure your job is more important than my trading ability.” And the fact that she suspects he may do his own thing and hide it from her, which could cause serious problems for her–I think we have to take her word for it that he’s not just take aback, he’s really ok with her getting fired or getting into legal trouble.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          But in fairness to the husband, the last time they talked about it,” he said that maybe he’d put his money into ETFs instead, which makes it sound like he’s coming around. The OP is worried that he might go with “what you don’t know won’t hurt you,” but it doesn’t sound like he’s actually said that.

          Reply
          1. JB (not in Houston)

            No, but I think we can trust her knowledge of her husband to know that this is something he actually might do. I mean, if that’s his plan, he probably *wouldn’t* say it.

            Reply
            1. Jessesgirl72

              Yes. Alison is the one who normally insists that the OPs know their coworkers better than we do so should take them at their word about what their coworkers would do/want/etc. I think that should definitely be extended to husbands. :)

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Fair enough. I guess then my question to the OP is: Is your worry about him doing that just coming out of the panic/frustration of the situation, or does it truly seem like something you need to worry he’d do? If it’s the latter, I agree that’s a huge problem for the relationship (even aside from this specific situation).

                Reply
                1. Jessesgirl72

                  That’s why my original response was that IF she REALLY (emphasized now, not originally) thinks he’d lie to her about complying or divesting, then she might want to leave him instead of the job. I was leaving open the possibility that she was a vague fear, and not something she seriously thinks he would do. I honestly hope she doesn’t actually think he’d jeopardize her like that and was just venting- but she did express the fear.

        2. LBK

          This is exactly my problem. I get that he feels suddenly put upon, but he’s also exhibiting zero sympathy for essentially asking her to consider quitting her job. There’s understanding lacking on both sides, but the comments have mostly been targeted towards the OP needing to be more empathetic to the husband (and I get that she’s the one who wrote in, not him, but I think it makes it feel more like an attack on the OP instead of presenting the argument as two-sided).

          Reply
          1. AD

            Eh, I think some folks (including me) are bothered by the fact that she had a private conversation with him while her boss and others were in full hearing, “by design”. We’re not here to diagnose relationship issues but it does feel like there is some animus or lack of trust on both sides and people here have pointed that out. That’s not quite attacking the OP.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              Yeah, I haven’t fully parsed my feelings about that approach myself. My gut reaction is that if she feels there’s a risk of the authenticity of her claim that her husband is refusing to disclose his holdings, that gives her insurance because others can bear witness to having heard the conversation. But I agree that’s a more icky part of this letter compared to the rest.

              Reply
                1. Jessesgirl72

                  Yes. And I think it probably harmed her at the company too. It was stupid on multiple levels, but I think it was most stupid (and useless!) with the company.

                2. Not So NewReader

                  I agree, JB, people who feel cornered/trapped will do some odd things to protect themselves.

              1. fposte

                Yeah, I think this is a complicated relationship that we may not be able to resolve within a blog post :-). And if her husband really does have past behavior that indicates he would indeed cover up behavior that would risk her job that’s a *huge* concern, and I would deal with that whether I kept the job or not. (And I’d get the names changed on assets held in her name, even if it cost.)

                Reply
    2. Engineer Girl

      I disagree. The OP is being manipulative by airing a private conversation with the coworkers. They are purposely bringing drama into the workplace and purposely making the husband look unreasonable in front of a bunch of strangers.
      I also noticed the demand that he : “comply like a normal person”. What? No. You don’t demand that a spouse suddenly dump $100k of investments. At a minimum this is a discussion not a demand. After all, the investments are mostly his property. Boundaries, people!
      This has been handled with a “my way or the highway” attitude that would put up the hackles of even a compliant person.

      Reply
      1. Government Worker

        “Comply like a normal person” in this case means declare the $100k in investments in the online system and then go through the approval process when he decides to sell them.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          Sure. But he may not know how it works because he doesn’t have the info. And it was sprung on him.
          Demanded I comply with something immediately without giving any details on how it works? I’d tell you no. If you want me to comply with something you give me all the detail of how it works and then give me the time to ponder it and ask questions. The OP didn’t give him that – just demanded he comply.

          Reply
          1. AthenaC

            Unless she’s new to this career, I have a hard time imagining that the husband didn’t know this was a possibility.

            And yes – in an industry where this is what everyone does, “comply like a normal person” is the right phrasing.

            Reply
            1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

              It is definitely the right phrasing. My husband’s job requires a similar sort of monitoring of our funds. It never even occurred to me to fight it. They have to prevent insider trading, this is how you do it. I’m happy to comply with these regulations like a normal person.

              Reply
          2. sunny-dee

            But doesn’t he have the info? She says that she sent him the documentation and he was parsing it to prove that she was wrong (that there were minimum amounts or other criteria that his trading didn’t meet). So he has to be familiar with the process.

            Reply
        2. MK

          Well, most “normal” people I know wouldn’t be cavalier about the thought of giving their spouses’ employer a detailed account of their present investments and asking permission about their future ones.

          Reply
          1. Xay

            If those normal people have a spouse who works in the financial industry, they will have to get used to it.

            I worked in the federal consulting arm of a Big 4 firm and still had to jump through independence hoops. If I progressed high enough in the firm, I would have had to report the investments of my parents. But the firm made it clear that it was for regulatory reasons so my choices would have been to comply or quit. Every industry has different standards of normal practices.

            Reply
            1. automaticdoor

              YEP. As I have commented throughout, I am married to a Big 4 CPA. This is totally normal and for regulatory reasons. It’s weird from the outside, but it makes complete sense when you think about it–would you really want the outsider accountants to have insider knowledge that they could pass on to their spouses and parents of how the company’s doing now and how it’s looking to be doing? That’s exactly what has happened in the past and why the rules are so strict now. It’s not that you can’t hold investments. It’s that you aren’t going to be holding investments of clients you’re directly working on at the staff level. If she ever became a partner in the firm, she’d likely end up buying straight through firm-approved traders to make sure nothing was out of line–the rules become even more strict the higher you get.

              Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            It’s pretty normal if you’re in finance, though.

            And honestly, there are multiple careers in which one partner’s profession requires the other partner to adhere to certain disclosure or ethics obligations. It sounds like these are additional requirements above and beyond any baseline requirements in OP’s profession, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for OP to describe compliance as something a “normal person” would do under these specific circumstances.

            Reply
        3. Marcela

          Yeah, but as a normal person, I would refuse unless I’m carefully explain why, to give my husband’s employer ANY information about anything of mine. I did not even want to fill in my own company, who is not providing healthcare to us, any form with health questions. And apart from some weirdness, I consider myself to be very normal.

          Reply
          1. Marty

            And in the immediate term, “it’s company policy and the law” should be sufficient explanation. Then, after compliance is achieved, there should be a long conversation about what, exactly, the law requires.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I can’t get on board with the idea that he should leap to comply with this just because it’s her company policy, not without a real conversation about it and time to think it over. It’s possible that their financial situation is such that it actually would be better for her to take a different job — probably not likely, but certainly possible. It’s worth a conversation and real discussion, since it’s clearly important to them both.

              Reply
              1. Connie

                I agree that this man needs to be given more time and more information to consider this, and that there are unstated relationship dynamics at play here. But I don’t see how those relationship dynamics or the wife’s employment prospects improve if “husband doesn’t want to comply with industry-standard legal requirements” is reason for her to quit. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone else being told that yes, quitting their job would be a good response to that mindset.

                If they’ve got so much in investments that risking his personal trading is seriously a bigger deal than her leaving her job, then would she care about leaving her job at all?

                Reply
                1. animaniactoo

                  Yes, OP well could because the job is about their independence and their career. Many people feel the need to have a job as part of being someone who is productive, has a purpose in life. OP states they can afford for him/her to leave the job. That doesn’t mean they WANT to do it, particularly if it is a setup that they like and don’t want to go through jobhunting again.

            2. Statler von Waldorf

              Nope. Laws can and have been used for inhuman practices in the past and present. So have company policies. Frankly, I can’t think of a faster way to get me opposed to the idea than just insist that “it’s the law.”

              Reply
              1. Grapey

                Preventing financial conflicts of interest isn’t some new industry practice that the company is rewriting just to inhumanely punish OP though. It’s sudden, sure, but that doesn’t make it inhumane. It’s not beyond the pale to go “Hey, you owning X amount of Y company could be a liability to us. Fix it, or you’re gone.”

                In fact that seems very reasonable to me and if I were a customer of this company, I would be pleased to know they take conflicts of interest seriously.

                Reply
              2. Kathlynn

                Your last sentence reminded me sharply of the people who object (and expect me to put my job at risk) when I ID them for smokes/lotto, and when they don’t have ID or it’s not valid get angry and expect me to sell it to them anyways.

                Reply
            3. Marty

              Except that this decision has a clock, if he has not complied by the deadline, it will impact her job. She really should have handled this earlier, but if she can’t get an extension, and the clock doesn’t have time for discussion, the discussion may have to be delayed. Yes, this sucks but it is reality. Hopefully they have enough trust banked up to handle the “this is an initial, short term decision made for compliance, we will revisit and discuss it until we find agreement” nature of the problem.

              As for unjust laws, you should only violate laws you know to be unjust, until you have determined that, “it’s the law” should be enough. You can always change your mind once you understand why the law exists and what its impacts are.

              Fundamentally, the problem doesn’t go away after the initial decision: you still need to discuss, analyze, and find consensus, but that may need to be done after a temporary initial decision is made.

              Reply
              1. Statler von Waldorf

                Going to have to agree to disagree. I take the opposite view and only follow laws I know to be just. “It’s the law” is never a good enough reason in my books. It might not be enough for the OP’s husband either, depending on how narcissistic he actually is.

                Reply
                1. Jenbug

                  It doesn’t matter much if you think the law is just or not. If you’re caught breaking it, you’re going to suffer consequences and the consequences in this case could lead the LW to lose her job or be charged with pretty serious crimes.

                2. Marty

                  Failing to follow a just law is just as immoral as following an unjust one. When you have no knowledge of a particular law, unless you have some particular reason to suspect that it is unjust, it would be immoral to break it.

                  Yes, Jenbug, breaking an unjust law may result in consequences. Part of civil disobedience is accepting those.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  Setting aside the theory of morality and compliance with law, there’s a distinction between civil disobedience and failure to comply with a law because you don’t want to (as opposed to failing to comply for reasons of one’s conscience).

                  Generally those who engage in civil disobedience understand that they must accept any legal consequences for that disobedience. But that’s not the case here, because the person who’s non-compliant (husband) doesn’t suffer the legal consequences; OP does.

                4. sstabeler

                  actually, I’d say independent of if the law in question is just, the problem with the husband’s reaction- particularly if he really does go “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” is that the consequences don’t just fall on him, they can/will fall on the LW as well. It’s all well and fine to refuse to follow a law you see as unjust, if you accept the consequences of such. it is very much NOT acceptable to made someone else have to face consequences from your actions- and it’s the insider who is liable, so you get the situation where the OP could face the consequences and the husband doesn’t.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                So I have a huge anti-authority complex, so I disagree with the “it’s a law” framing. I know it makes me obnoxious, but if I don’t understand why the law requires the thing it requires, I have a tendency to view it skeptically (translation: If I’m your partner, you can tell me what your compliance requirement is, but I have to understand how/why it’s related to the performance of your job to fully “get it”). I have a feeling that’s what OP’s husband is doing.

                I think OP owes her spouse a more comprehensive conversation and opportunity to work through why compliance is necessary, etc. (and I think it’s ok for OP’s spouse to push back, although I really do hope he’ll support her by allowing her to stay in her job, if he can). I understand time is of the essence, but I think the risk to the relationship is bypassing that deeper conversation in favor of forced/unquestioning compliance.

                Reply
            4. Marty

              In fact, as I see it, there really are two problems that need to be solved here: The first is, “what do we do now to prevent immediate problems with the job?” The second is, “how do we work with or eliminate these restrictions?” They have different solutions, and require different considerations. The first might not permit much discussion; the second requires it. The first is short term, the second is long term. By treating them as one problem, they become intractable; the immediacy of one tramples the delicacy of the other. Suddenly, there isn’t enough time to consider the complexity of the other.

              Reply
        4. animaniactoo

          Not just go when he decides to sell them – also when he wants to make any other trades.

          I don’t know how active a trader he is, but I do know that you can potentially miss great opportunities if you can’t do it within 24 hours. If that’s the kind of trader he is AND permission might take a week, then it’s not so cut and dried as “go through the approval process, not a big deal”.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            And so facts are important. It may be that you can get instantaneous approval, and maybe even pretty rapid disapproval.

            Reply
            1. AnonForThis

              It’s not fast at all, at least not at any of the firms I know.

              Typically you have to trade with an online broker like eTrade and are request to get every single trade approved. The approval takes weeks.

              Reply
              1. Amber T

                That sounds awful! We have a list of companies we can’t trade and an online program that will tell us yes or no instantaneously. These laws and regulations (in the States) are *relatively* new (within the last 10 years, when people decided we should actually watch what the banks are doing and hopefully not cause another recession). I think the technology should be and is catching up.

                Reply
      2. Amy

        It kind of came off to me like she dropped the ball and waited until the last minute to actually read the rules and is now pissed he wants some time to think about it. I know my husband would want some time to read over the rules and think about what he wanted to do. He also wouldn’t want to have the conversation with me over the phone while we were both at work. I wasn’t clear on the time line of when he found out he would have to disclose as well. If the first he heard about it was the conversation in front of the finance dept where she vaguely threatened to leave her job it’s kind of messed up.

        Reply
        1. MsCHX

          I read it slightly differently. She received it and mentioned it to him because he trades and she doesn’t. She did put off reading it until much later at which it became a NOW! issue.

          I can see this happening. Sort of related scenario…a couple of years ago in a new job my husband paid zero attention to all of the open enrollment info, I didn’t realize their plan year was 10/1 and not 1/1 and by the time I asked about OE (I’m in HR) we were locked into another year of insurance that costs almost $6k in premiums with a $6500 deductible. Because it wasn’t something he normally had to deal with and this 10/1 plan date was new to us, it slipped by. His “fault”? Yes. He should have read everything his HR dept sent to him.

          OP should have read everything in detail AND mentioned it to her husband. But now that it is on the table, like others, I would be pretty PO’d if my spouse was “meh, oh well” on an issue that could cost me my job.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            Actually, I think she was REALLY wrong in how she handled that. She should have handed over the packet to him, so he could investigate it since he’s the one in their marriage who handles that end of things.

            I would say that McCHX’s husband screwed up by not simply handing all of that over to the member of their marriage who DOES deal with those things.

            Reply
            1. MsCHX

              Good point. Because initially I read it as she did give it to him but then saw that she gave it to him after she had her ‘oh crap’ moment.

              Reply
      3. Marty

        Unfortunately, legally speaking, this is most likely a “my way or the high way” (or perhaps a “the legal way or the jail way”) type problem. Insider trading laws are serious business, and it is very likely that his failure to comply would put everyone in serious legal jeopardy.

        That said, yes, there has to be a serious discussion about it, and manipulative dramatic tactics are not likely to be helpful.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          I get that. But she’s demanding compliance from him when she can’t answer any questions. He should be able to ask questions in how it works.

          Reply
            1. fposte

              Why can’t he ask them now? If I were the OP, I’d be all over getting him a pipeline for those, because it’s in my best interest.

              Reply
                1. fposte

                  That’s not a reason not to ask them, though. That’s a reason for the OP to move even faster to find out who gets asked.

                  I agree that answers may not be forthcoming by the 9th, so I wouldn’t promise they would be, but I don’t see any reason to wait on the asking.

                2. Marty

                  I will give you that, but unfortunately, the first decisions will likely have to be made with a lack of information. Which will be unsatisfying, regardless of whether the questions have been asked.

                  Fortunately, no decision is final. There will be time to come to terms with the policy after something is done to avoid the immediate consequences.

            2. Joseph

              Why would he need to wait? For someone who’s not in the finance industry and who’s unfamiliar with the regulations, there are literally dozens of legitimate things to find out about this arrangement.
              Why does this apply to my individual investments and not just yours? How does this apply to investments managed for me by others? What’s the approval process like for new investments? How long does it take to get approval? Do they actually review each approval reasonably or are they so conservative that “you can always assume no”? If they disallow approval, can I appeal? And so on.
              Personally, as I’m reading the situation, I would probably be pretty frustrated myself if *I* was OP’s husband, simply because I’m being told “this is immediate, must-do” while at the same time I have some serious questions which my wife has no answers for.

              Reply
              1. Amber T

                I’m absolutely not disagreeing with your frustration. I’ve been in this world for a while so I’m not used to the shock towards declaring and requesting permission. At the same time, coming from the other side, I’m feeling a bit frustrated because it really isn’t that big a deal to declare, especially when you consider the consequences (ridiculous fines from the government, possible jail time).

                Really, the simplest solution would be for the OP to talk to her compliance person and say “I’m a bit confused about the trading policy, and given that my husband is the one who does the trades he knows what questions need to be asked. Can we schedule some time for the three of us to sit down (or have him call in) so we can clear this up?”

                Reply
            3. Marty

              Agreed, this is frustrating. Unfortunately, the world is sometimes frustrating. The big problem here is that some king of decision has to be made before the policy takes effect. This means that there may not be enough time for a full discussion. End effect: crappy short term decision is made, and the questions, along with the long term decision remain open, something to be investigated, and perhaps revisited later.

              Reply
          1. AthenaC

            Well if Australian law is anything like US law, it’s probably complex enough such that she probably doesn’t understand well enough to answer any of her husband’s questions, and it’s probably not a good use of her time to really dig into it. That’s why there’s a requirement to report all your investments, so that people who are paid to understand it can do it for you. Minimizing risk both to the company and to the OP and spouse personally.

            Reply
            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              I wonder if there’s a compliance unit at her job that would be willing to answer his questions, though? It seems like a big enough agency that someone must be tasked with that responsibility.

              Reply
      4. LBK

        You don’t demand that a spouse suddenly dump $100k of investments. At a minimum this is a discussion not a demand. After all, the investments are mostly his property. Boundaries, people!

        Okay, but the husband also doesn’t get to demand that his wife quit her job.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          The way the OP handled it now has both of them in their respective corners duking it out. Had it been handled properly in the first place then both sides would work together for a solution.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            But that’s what I’m saying: there is no “both sides work together for a solution”. How do you imagine it would’ve gone differently if she’d approached the conversation another way?

            I guess I don’t see an issue with the OP’s perspective because it’s not a negotiable ask. There’s no reason for her to phrase it as “My company asked me to do X, do you think you can do that?” because that’s not the reality of the situation. The reality is he has to do it, period, and I don’t think you should have to sugarcoat things with your spouse when something as serious as your employment is on the line.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I think a healthy conversation about it would likely end up with him agreeing to do it, but would start with the OP explaining exactly what was required and why, what it would mean for him, and not coming at it as “you need to do this/end of story” but rather as “my company has just sprung this on me, it’s a requirement for my job now, I know it’s a pain for you, and let’s talk about what it would mean for us.”

              Reply
              1. Observer

                I wonder about that. If you notice, the first conversation about this had her husband insisting that the policy had clauses that it doesn’t. A more serious issue is that fact that the OP is concerned that her husband may lie about the situation. If she’s reading the situation correctly, that makes the possibility of a healthy and reasonable conversation remote.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  It reads to me like the husband just doesn’t understand enough about how this works (and that’s leading him to say things that sound outrageous to the OP), and that part of a healthy conversation would be explaining to him how it really does work, that these really are the requirements, etc.

                2. MsCHX

                  I thought the same thing.

                  Because in the end, there is only two ways this can go:

                  Husband complies
                  Husband does not comply and OP quits/gets fired/gets in trouble beyond losing her job

                  What exactly are we discussing?

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  @MsCHX: It’s about not issuing unilateral demands to your spouse and instead treating them like a partner, meaning that you have an empathetic conversation about how this will work, what it would mean for them, etc. You don’t just say “this is happening, end of story.”

                4. animaniactoo

                  OP does not seem to be indicating a fear that the husband would lie, vs husband would openly draw a boundary line that won’t work for OP to be able to keep the job and them to be in compliance. This is not the same thing as thinking “He might agree, and then do what he wants anyway” which would be thinking he would lie about it.

                  It’s easier to handle a stance that you’re clear about what it is, whether or not you think it’s unreasonable, than it is to handle the idea that you’re NOT clear about what is going to happen despite what has been said. You may not like the stance, but it’s not somebody being untrustworthy. So it is possible to revisit and discuss with additional information.

                5. MsCHX

                  I mean…I guess. I see that. But I feel like that’s just fluff. But then I am one of those black/white thinkers. We have to do this or I lose my job. Even if I were the husband, I can see having questions but don’t think it needs a big ‘feelings’ discussion so everyone can feel warm and fuzzy about the decision. Grown-up life sucks because everything isn’t warm and fuzzy and makes you feel good. (yes, I’m being extra on purpose).

                  And it just reads as “we don’t REALLY have a choice here unless I wasted my time and energy pursuing this path…but let’s talk about it so we can say we did”

                  I guess I just won’t understand the other side of this because it is so black and white and that’s where I live!

                6. animaniactoo

                  The reason it’s not just fluff is that losing the job is a valid option here. Their livelihoods are not going to be threatened by OP losing the job, so it absolutely has to be a bigger discussion than “You must do this, we’re over a barrel”.

                  And even when losing the job is a livelihood threatening option, there’s a “we gotta do this right now while we figure out what to do about the job” conversation that comes in. Because while forcing someone to lose a job is a unilateral imposition, so is forcing someone to change how they do something. In a partnership, you can’t do that when one party has an issue with it. You have to mutually figure out what is the best path for the both of you as a unit that serves the unit AND the individuals in the unit.

                7. MsCHX

                  “Because while forcing someone to lose a job is a unilateral imposition, so is forcing someone to change how they do something. ”

                  Those are equal options to you?

                  Wow. Okay…carry on!

                8. animaniactoo

                  Not equal – just not so unequal as to be an automatic choice for which option is going to work best to support *both people* in the partnership.

                  As discussed in my previous post.

                  There are options – they may not be options you (or I) like, but they are there and treating them as if they don’t exist when both people are going to be significantly impacted by either option is disrespectful to your partner imo.

            2. Statler von Waldorf

              No, that is not the reality. The reality is that he can refuse. That might mean she has to consider leaving the job or leaving the marriage. That’s doesn’t change the fact that he can refuse.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                I meant that he can’t refuse without there being severe consequences, such that you outlined. There’s no option where he says no, the company says okay and then things just continue as they are. Obviously he does literally have the option to refuse.

                Reply
            3. A Plain-Dealing Villain

              Well, one way the OP could frame it, is that unless her husband is a stock broker (and even then, honestly) it is very unlikely that he is gaining more from his individual stock investments then he would in an index. They could compare the potential revenue difference between the stocks and an index with her salary. The job is probably going to be the clear winner money wise. The other possible thing to discuss is what personal value he feels he gets out of playing with stocks.

              Reply
              1. Natalie

                If he’s a hobbyist stock trader, in my experience, it will either a) be impossible to convince him that he isn’t going to beat an index, or b) he knows that already but derives a lot of enjoyment from trading. So you probably have to skip straight to assuming he won’t want to give it up and figuring out how to comply with the pre-clearance requirements.

                Reply
        2. PK

          Which he didn’t do.

          This is a big onus on the husband and there doesn’t seem to be much understanding for his side of it. It may make perfect legal sense but I’d be seriously upset if this was suddenly sprung on me. This is coming from someone who doesn’t work in Finance. It makes perfect sense legally but she’s asking him to give up some of his independence to a company that he is only peripherally involved with. She needs to recognize that.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Okay, but being understanding of his reasons doesn’t change anything. The choice is still either he complies or she quits. Positioning it better and presenting it with more empathy might have made him more receptive to doing it, but he still would’ve had to do it.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              He doesn’t really have to though. It’s possible that the best solution for the two of them as a unit really could be that she changes job. Unlikely, but possible. Her needs don’t automatically trump his; it has to be a discussion.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                I guess my perspective is skewed because I’ve been in the financial industry my whole career and am no stranger to dealing with onerous compliance regulations. They’re a fact of life in this sector, so unless one came along that I found morally objectionable or that I thought meant my job was at risk due to my function being outlawed, the idea that I would even consider quitting instead of complying is honestly almost laughable. And I mean that genuinely, not to be snarky: it wouldn’t even be on my radar to consider whether I wanted to comply or not, I’d just comply, and anyone who quit over it would be looked at as very weird.

                You roll your eyes, you fill out the annoying forms, you move on – that’s kind of the attitude of most people within the financial world when it comes to this stuff. When you operate with that mindset, I can see how it would be really jarring to come up against any kind of resistance the OP is getting from her husband and how the OP wouldn’t assume that this even needed to be a discussion rather than a request.

                Reply
                1. Statler von Waldorf

                  And from my perspective, this would be an unreasonable limitation on me. I’ve worked in finance, and have refused jobs where I would be required to follow procedures like this, as I highly value as much freedom as I can squeeze out of this society.

                  If my wife sprung this on me without warning, I’d probably react worse than her husband did. That doesn’t make me right, or you wrong, it just means that different people can value different things as dealbreakers or not.

                2. AthenaC

                  Yes I think this is phrased very well – it’s simply How It Goes in public accounting (and a few other industries it sounds like). If a particular tier of the market is a good fit for you, you’re not going to find a company that doesn’t require this. And no, I wouldn’t switch jobs either – this is what I went to school for, what I passed the CPA exam for, and what I’m good at.

                3. LBK

                  SvW – I don’t think we’re going to be able to continue this conversation because it sounds like we have wildly different ideals. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

                4. animaniactoo

                  Okay, but here’s the thing that I think many people are missing here. This isn’t just new to the husband. This is new to the OP. And that means that whatever jobs OP has had before now don’t require this, which means it’s not an “industry” thing for them of an industry they’re in.

                  So depending on how the husband trades, and what setup the company has for the approval process, this might be an onerous ask that’s actually unnecessary to deal with since it’s not necessary for OP’s *career*, just this specific job that OP is currently holding (and was not a requirement when they were hired for it).

                5. AD

                  Agreed with animaniactoo. They are both new to this, and our responses should be a little cognizant of that.

                6. LBK

                  And if that’s the case and it’s easy enough for the OP to find other work where this won’t be required of her, then maybe that’s the solution. But she is an accountant, so just generally speaking, I can’t imagine the idea of stringent regulations is new to her.

                7. animaniactoo

                  @LBK, no I imagine the idea of them is not new to her, but them *affecting* her (and her husband) is new to her, and that’s why her thought process jumped to “comply like a normal person” vs “wait, this particular job might be a problem for us in the big picture”.

              2. Natalie

                I’m not sure changing jobs is going to do anything but potentially punt this into the future a few years. These types of rules are not uncommon in the LW’s field, so escaping them could mean changing fields entirely, which is a much bigger thing of course.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  That’s a really good point. And if the husband *is* a passionate hobby trader, that would mandate a serious conversation about the convergence of her field and his passion and how they can make that work longterm, not just shortterm.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  This is the key issue that’s been driving my reactions/concerns. It sounds like there are certainly jobs where OP would not have these requirements, but it also sounds like there are a lot of jobs in her field that do. Regardless, it would probably be healthiest and kindest to have a long, thoughtful sit-down with husband about it sooner than later. Maybe it’s worth complying for this job, but maybe it’s not. That’s something they’re going to have to work out, together.

              3. MW

                If her career is accountancy I think there’s a good chance of this cropping up at other jobs. Maybe not, since she’s not encountered it in her career so far, but as I understand it this kind of legal requirement is not uncommon for anyone who gets to see corporate finances. I think that any sort of conversation really has to be aware of the possibility that this will come up elsewhere in her career.

                Reply
            2. PK

              Yea, but you don’t get a spouse to do something by strong arming them. That’s never going to end well. He has valid concerns. Yes, he’ll need to come around to it in the end if she wants to continue working there (and I do think he should come around to it) but this is not how you handle it.

              Reply
      5. JB (not in Houston)

        I think she’s trying to CYA, not be manipulative. Let’s not assume bad intentions on the part of the letter writers.

        Reply
      6. Just Another Techie

        Yeah. If she really wanted full transparency with her boss, she should have approached boss and had a private word. Something along the lines of “My spouse wants to take some time to read over the disclosure forms before signing them. I’m sure it won’t be a problem, but if I’m not able to get my whole family in compliance, what are our options?” The whole setting up “by design” to have many of her colleagues hear half of her conversation raises red flags to me that she might be dramagenic in other ways too. I’m also curious why is she having this conversation on the phone during the workday instead of face to face when they are both off the clock?

        Reply
      7. Jessesgirl72

        Normal people usually do what it takes to not get charged with insider trading and all those other not-fun laws that cover trading.

        She HAS no choices here, if he refuses to comply, other than to quit or divorce him. That is not her decision- that is the decision of the laws that govern her industry!

        Reply
        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I made a quick scroll through the comments and didn’t see anybody talking about this–if I were the OP, I’d be particularly concerned about the stocks held in her name. I feel like whatever his reluctance about shares in his own name, I just don’t think it’s right for him to have refused to do anything about the ones in her name. I hope the OP is able to have a productive conversation with him and get him to understand the full picture here. I get where people are saying that she can’t just demand he comply without a real conversation about it. But for the shares held in her name, I think a different rule should apply. If he’s doing something in her name, he needs to comply with her wishes. But that said, I don’t know enough about stock trading to know whether having them in her name means much from a legal or compliance perspective.

          Reply
          1. SadieMae

            Yes, I was struck by OP saying the stocks weren’t hers, but they were in her name. If they’re in your name, they’re your stocks! If an issue does arise with them, OP won’t get far explaining they aren’t “really” hers.

            Reply
            1. yasmara

              Yes, this exactly. They are in her name…that means that for all legal intents & purposes, they are hers. The fact that she knows nothing about them or the husband says they are his (despite being in her name) is concerning to me.

              Reply
              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

                Agreed — that really stood out to me too! Now, the Australian laws around this are probably different from US laws, but that is a pretty worrying scenario…

                Reply
            2. Brisvegan

              I would be very careful about that, too! ASIC and your company may ask some serious questions about sticks in your name.

              It may also be that she needs this information for tax reasons. OP: think about capital gains and income tax issues and get advice re the stocks in your name. I am not a tax expert, but it raises red flags for me. Profits and dividends might legally be yours, even if you allow your husband to have them. There may also be issues about him not declaring his tax liability and youbeing part of that scheme. It might be a good idea to see a lawyer or tax accountant.

              Reply
      8. Not So NewReader

        OP is not the one doing the demanding. Her company is demanding these disclosures and she is passing the message on to the hubby. Both of them are panicking for different reasons. I totally get the hubby being ticked off, these rules are like an invasive weed in your yard, the company is taking over an aspect of his life and he does not even work there. I can see that the reason for annoyance.

        However, a great many jobs come with these micromanaging rules, this is the world we have. My current job is so loaded up with rules that I find it easier to just not talk about the job too much or too detailed. Fortunately, I have a wonderful boss so I can talk to her. If I did not have that then I would be facing a more than a few difficult days. One of the many aspects of this question could be that OP needs a mentor type person in her life. Someone who will bounce ideas around with her when this odd stuff comes up. And this would be a person who would be discreet yet candid with OP.

        Reply
    3. Alton

      I don’t think either of them are being unreasonable, and I think both of them sound (understandably) biased. The husband is being asked to do something that he finds intrusive. His instinct is probably that it’s unfair for him to have to get permission on some of his trading activities because of his wife’s job. He might not have been very aware of this possibility until it was sprung on him. I can sympathize with that, but it sounds like this is a common reality for this industry.

      The OP is naturally concerned about keeping her job and being in compliance. This might have been sprung on her as well. When someone is bothered by something that you don’t have a lot of control over, that can feel very unfair and like they’re not being supportive.

      This is really something that they need to discuss while keeping in mind not only their own interests but each other’s interests and what is best for the relationship. I suspect that, in balance, the husband complying with the rules is probably the most fair compromise. But I don’t think he was wrong to feel uncomfortable with it. Being legally tied to another person can have frustrations, for both sides.

      Reply
  5. anon for this

    For the relationship piece:
    Speaking as someone with depression issues (without medication I am very cranky and combative), I think the time spent digesting this is good and I also suggest he present it to the counselor and/or a trusted friend with financial industry knowledge. They may sway him if he is willing to recognize that it’s annoying, a PITA, but also a Normal Thing that he doesn’t have experience with.

    For the work piece:
    Could you have certain companies or industries pre-authorized? I suspect that’s a long shot, but I don’t really know. Just offering suggestions.

    Reply
    1. bohtie

      Agreed with this. I have PTSD and one of the symptoms for many people is that you have trouble adjusting to change – things that are predictable and exactly the same as they were before aren’t as scary, and even things that seem irrelevant can get really overwhelming. Before I went into treatment, I once had a panic attack because my roommate moved my shampoo from one side of the shower to the other.

      The company I work for has similar rules about investments and every year I have to go through and certify that I don’t have any conflicts of interests, etc., and even though I know that I don’t and probably never will (the bulk of my assets are currently in my retirement, which is handled by a company hired by mine in order to avoid legal/compliance problems), there’s a part of me that freaks out a little every time and absolutely HATES doing it.

      I feel reasonably confident? that if he discusses it with his counselor and/or trusted friends and gives it time to sink in, it won’t be so unfathomable. The key part being time to get used to the change, and feeling confident that he’s gonna handle it correctly when it comes time to handle it.

      Reply
  6. Sunshine on a cloudy day

    Speak to someone in your Compliance Dept! Please! US Compliance person here, and this is literally my job – to monitor/sort any personal trading issues for employees of a financial firm. A.) This is very common for US based investment firms (but does sound quite invasive if you’re outside the industry) and B.) We just need to be sure that we are in compliance with various laws/regulations. Speak to someone in your Compliance dept. and they might be able to give you specific options or explain the logic/reasoning in a way that might enable you to communicate the reason for this better to your husband.

    Reply
    1. also anon

      Also in compliance – please do this asap! Trading policies are very serious and you will absolutely get caught if your spouse does any trading without your knowledge – even trading in a child or parent’s name is usually prohibited. These policies are a legal requirement for this industry, so we really are talking about a career ending consequence, not just at this job but in this industry at all. Part of why finance can pay well is to compensate for you and your family not being able to invest outside of the policy, and is why people choose to go into real estate instead, etc. This policy is meant to protect the public from you taking advantage of non-public information that you have access to, so you can’t usually get exceptions.

      Reply
      1. S-Mart

        “Part of why finance can pay well is to compensate for you and your family not being able to invest outside of the policy”

        But she’s not being compensated for this policy, unless she got a substantial raise along with this change in policy (it is mentioned her designation was changed to require this, the implication to me being that these rules were not in effect during the offer consideration stage) that she didn’t mention in the letter.

        Frankly, nobody looks good in this letter – company, OP, or husband. Of the three, I have the most sympathy for the husband. I would bristle at anything from my wife’s company that said I had to do anything. Their relationship is with her, not me. I get that this is probably law-driven and not a policy that is likely to be negotiable, but the communication could have been better at almost every point.

        Reply
        1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

          Yes the company’s relationship is the LW (wife), but the reasoning is if the wife passes insider information along to the husband, and then he invests based on that info (and profits from it), the wife will still benefit because they are a joint financial unit through marriage.

          Reply
        2. Barney Barnaby

          But legally, you and your wife are a package deal. If you make an investment off her insider information, it benefits her, too – because she’s married to the person making the good deal.

          Reply
        3. Jessesgirl72

          She just started this job 3 weeks before she wrote in, so it’s not really relevant to say “the status changed, they should pay her more!”

          Reply
        4. Not So NewReader

          I think I am having the most sympathy for OP because I can hear a panic in the writing. One thing I’d like to suggest, OP, is for you to calm a bit. I think your hubby is accelerating YOUR panic. I think if you calm down he will start to calm down also.
          I have noticed that the beings around us can pick up on our emotional state, I have even noticed pets become nervous when I am under heavy worry. Likewise yourself, you are probably worried about your husband’s health, our spouses’ worries become our worries.
          So here you guys are, both of you are worried about his well-being. Now you have this job making demands of the both of you. Of course, you are worried. So, peach, right? Worry on top of worry. Not easy stuff.
          From his perspective, he could be saying, “Is our marriage that expendable, if I don’t agree to this you would LEAVE ME?”

          Why not shift this question over to, “Is this job I have good for us? Does it give us more benefit than harm?”

          I tend to think in marriage we stop being an “I” and we start being a “we”. What happens to one spouse basically happens to the other spouse also. I think that medical people don’t understand how deep this link runs between couples. It’s very deep. Just has his health matters concern you, your job is starting to really concern him.
          Step back and take a breath. Breathe for a moment.

          Reply
          1. Marisol

            I appreciate your ability to do such a nuanced read. I didn’t pick up on the panic, but it makes a lot of sense to view the OP’s letter from that lens.

            To my mind the simplest action to take is to contact the compliance office and get some more information–perhaps there is a workaround, perhaps the compliance officer would be willing to have a conversation with the husband; perhaps there are some other options to explore–but it does sound like maybe the looming deadline has the OP panicked and unable to slow down and gather some more info. When you’re scared you’re more likely to see things in black and white; hopefully the OP can take a step back and be calmer and and handle the situation a bit more gracefully.

            Reply
          2. Anon for this one

            I think something that might be contributing to the panic might be the fact that the husband is a diagnosed narcissist.

            I recently left a long marriage to a narcissist, so I might be reading this with my own baggage, but the OP’s panic and sense of helplessness resonated with me. There can be a sense of walking on eggshells or building on quicksand, when you live with some (not all!) narcissists and are at odds about something they control, but that can seriously affect you.

            OP might be in a position where she has genuine fears that her husband will be unwilling or unable to process that the risks to her and her career are real and important and that he could actually get caught. Some narcissists can feel invulnerable to consequences and therefore above the law. They sometimes are unable to conceptualise or prioritise the concerns of others. This is a hallmark of the personality disorder.*

            OP might be conciously or unconciously genuinely fearful that her husband will expose her to jail or job loss because he is incapable of fully accepting her concerns or that he could get caught. She might be very concerned he will act against her interests or lie to her. (My ex exposed me to both professional and medical risk because he would not accept concerns or appreciate that risks could apply to him.). I suspect this is why she mentioned the diagnosis.

            She might also have extra need to maintain separate finances and career stability (just in case), if she consciously or unconsciously fears that her husband’s narcissistic behaviours could put their marriage at risk in the long term.

            The call in front of co-workers seemed like it might have been provoked by a fear that her husband would deny being told about the policy. It was not well thought through, respectful to the husband or a great idea for her professional image. However, it may have seemed like a necessary CYA if she thought she may need witnesses to her conversation. (OP, are you scared that your husband would lie, ‘forget’ or gaslight you about this? You might have much bigger issues than just this one situation, if that is the case.)

            OP, because you are living with a narcissist, you might benefit from counselling, assistance or joining a support group. You may love your husband, he may be great and you may never have the common marital issues that arise with narcissistic partners, but there may be extra challenges from his diagnosis that mean you need extra support.

            [*As an aside, this is not everyone with the diagnosis! You may be or know someone who is a narcissist who can overcome or is not affected by this aspect of the diagnosis! Not all narcissists are the same. People can be kind and trustworthy, though they have the disorder. People can be jerks without it. Please don’t think I am demonising people with the disorder. I have a different mental illness (depression) and know that mental illness =/= destiny or unkindness to others.]

            Reply
    2. Pwyll

      Now in compliance as well, I echo the above comments. One thing to keep in mind is his ignoring the requirement could have serious consequences for your employer (possibly up to loss of its charter). You do NOT want your name on a report to senior leadership as the contributing cause to a major regulatory violation, and as anon says it could ruin your ability to ever work in the industry ever again. This all sounds scary and doom and gloom, but most of the industry makes an effort to make this process at painless as possible. Speak to your compliance team about the system and with any questions or their suggestions for complying more easily. (Seriously, I wish people would just ask)

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Yessss! In the States at least, it isn’t as scary or as awful as everyone’s making it sound. Can it be a pain and frustrating sometimes? Absolutely! But I think a lot of the fear and panic, not just with OP’s letter and husband’s reaction but from some of the readers here as well, is a misunderstanding of what exactly needs to happen and why. Your compliance person is the best person to talk to, and I guarantee OP is not the first person, or will be the last person, to have questions (and to have a minor freak out. Don’t worry, we’ve seen it before and we’ll continue seeing it).

        Reply
    3. Newby

      I recently had to disclose all potential conflicts of interest of everyone involved in a project I was working on and it felt very invasive asking for that information but according to the senior people I was working with (I am the most junior on the project) it is very normal for our field. This isn’t even a finance field, so I can only imagine how much more information would be needed for a financial firm.

      Reply
      1. Government Worker

        Come to think of it I think my spouse and I had to fill out some sort of disclosure about our financial interests when she was at a law firm. Felt invasive to ask about my job, investments, etc., but they have legitimate reasons for asking. I can’t imagine pitching a fit about it and risk my spouse’s job, even if it was annoying.

        Reply
    4. Mike C.

      Do these sorts of companies make compliance really easy on the families or is this a time-consuming, complicated or otherwise difficult process? I mentioned this elsewhere but I presume that the process to comply is actually much easier than it first appears and I suspect that the husband is overacting to not having a complete view of the situation.

      Reply
      1. Sunshine on a cloudy day

        It depends how the company monitors this sort of thing. The companies I’ve worked for always used specific personal trading monitoring software. These are the general steps that the firms I’ve worked in require:

        – When you start you are given login information for your account within this system. You have a specific amount of time to disclose all brokerage accounts with trading capabilities (you just login, select the brokerage firm, enter the account number and open date). There’s more that goes into this, but Compliance handles this not the employees – occasionally a few follow up questions will be asked. Same process if you open any new accounts.
        – Every time you want to make a trade you login into this system, search for the security you would like to trade along with the amount, buy/sell/etc and submit. Our firm policy is that you will receive an approval or denial within 24 hours. My previous firm approvals/denials were based on auto-generated lists so approvals/denials were instantaneous (though false-denials were more likely). If you are denied, but don’t think that you should have been you can reach out to Compliance to appeal. Wife can give husband her login info so that he can login and submit requests whenever he likes.

        Unless you are practically a day trader, I don’t think it’s particularly onerous (at least if the firm is using an efficient monitoring program – it takes seconds to submit a trade request), but it does require you to be more thoughtful in your personal trading activity (no impulse trades) and I do understand that it can feel extremely invasive.

        Reply
  7. Naomi

    Seconding Alison’s advice to find out what the consequences of non-compliance would be. And if it turns out that your husband could get you in legal trouble by going behind your back on this, spell that out for him–he needs to know that what you don’t know COULD hurt you.

    Reply
  8. Username has gone missing

    Wow. If you work in finance you comply with insider trading rules, end of. He’s being unreasonable.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      But he doesn’t work in finance, and this was kind of sprung on him, rather than something he had input on when the job was being considered. I get it’s important not to break the law (though at least in the U.S. it looks like the law is not nearly as draconian as this policy suggests), but I think this is a lot to hit somebody with.

      Reply
      1. rubyrose

        It is a lot to hit someone with. However – is this the first time OP has worked in Finance and the first time they have had this sprung on them? If so, what a surprise, but something that perhaps should have been covered in the hiring process. If not, this should be just normal and it probably is not the first time the spouse has been hit with this.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking, too–that if this is the first the OP encountered the policy that the employer wasn’t exactly on the ball here.

          Reply
          1. Government Worker

            I can think of two possible reasons for the employer’s cavalier attitude. First, policies like this are incredibly common in the industry and they just assumed that OP would either have come across similar policies before or would immediately understand why it’s needed and be ready to comply. The other reason is that these policies are often presented as no big deal to lower-level employees because it’s pretty uncommon for more junior employees to hold a bunch of individual stocks or want to trade it frequently. With less than 100k in assets, most investment advice for OP and spouse would be directing them towards mutual funds and ETFs that are exempt from the policy anyway.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I confess it did occur to me that it might be doing the husband a service to steer him away from individual equities :-). (Don’t know about his capital gains, of course.)

              Reply
        2. Joseph

          Given that OP is an accountant and from the way the first paragraph is phrased (“our designation was changed to make us access persons”), this actually *does* seem like the first time they’ve encountered this. And almost as importantly, that this was just sprung on them out of the blue via email, rather than something that was known and clear before OP took the role.
          It doesn’t justify OP’s husband’s angry reaction, but is understandable that he doesn’t understand the importance if it came as a lightning bolt out of nowhere

          Reply
    2. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      Yeah, I’m astounded by his reaction. He is being extremely caviler with his wife’s career over bog standard, totally benign, unsurprising rules.

      Reply
  9. AnonAcademic

    So if I’m reading this right, OP is concerned that their spouse is willing to sabotage OP’s career by secretly conducting trading because they don’t agree with the rules. As a married person, I have to say that I could not abide being in a partnership with someone I trust so little that I’d think that they’d do that, especially not when 100K in assets and my career trajectory was at stake. Just because you can afford to lose you job doesn’t mean it’s at all reasonable for your husband to expect you to do that.

    Reply
    1. Christy

      Yeah, I’m seeing this as a major marriage problem. Admittedly, OP doesn’t look *great* for having the conversation with her husband so others could hear (it doesn’t help anything legally and is kind of airing dirty laundry) but I’m way more concerned about the husband.

      And honestly, OP, I agree with what others are saying about your marriage–you don’t seem to fully trust your husband and your marriage’s ability to talk through and work out this issue, and that’s a bad sign. (Does that comment make sense, y’all?)

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I think it is too early to say anything about trust issues. The husband was just told about this. Give him a few days to think about it, google some knowledge, and readdress the issue. I think it is kind of normal to be upset and defiant right away, it takes time for the raw emotions to subside so there can be productive thinking.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Eh, I get what you’re saying about him having a kneejerk reaction, but personally I would still be troubled by his specific flavor of kneejerk defiance being “I’ll do this behind your back”.

          Reply
          1. hbc

            He never said that. She assumed he would, which either says bad things about him or her, but definitely about the marriage.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              Indeed, I got it mixed up from some other comments. And agreed, one way or another they have some marriage stuff to deal with.

              Reply
            2. Putting Out Fires, Esq

              Yeah, I wouldn’t be afraid my husband would go behind my back after I asked him not to do something.

              OP, I know this is a work advice site, but this was the red flag to me.

              Reply
          2. animaniactoo

            My husband’s kneejerk reaction almost all the time is that kind of defiance. Then we have an argument and then he doesn’t do it. He would not call it an argument, he would call it a discussion. I’m thinking that when you have opposing views and each of you has gotten more than a bit heated, it’s an argument, but hey? What do I know?

            In another example of contrarianess, I asked him to do something at my parents’ house once, and he outright refused and walked away. 5 minutes later, without my having said another word to him, he was doing it. My mom didn’t know I hadn’t said anything and asked me how I’d gotten him to do it. “Pro forma objection”.

            There are things he is not good at and that kneejerk reaction is one of them. Because he is later sane and reasonable, and just about never actually a jerk, I can live with it.

            Reply
        2. Mike C.

          I’m with Anderson here, I think there’s a communications issue going on and some time and more information will help smooth things over.

          Reply
  10. F.

    When I worked at a very large financial services corporation in the USA, not only were employees’ spouses bound by this law, but everyone in the household had to comply. I was living with, but not yet married to, my (current) husband at the time, and he bristled greatly at having to ask permission to do any trading whatsoever. Getting this permission would sometimes take days, too. These regulations had nothing to do with the company itself, they were required by law to follow them. The irony of it is, I was an administrative assistant and had no access whatsoever to any sort of financial information.
    I do think the company could have done a better job of providing easy-to-understand information for both the employees and especially their non-industry spouses/household members in both my case and the OP’s.

    Reply
    1. Candi

      The irony of it is, I was an administrative assistant and had no access whatsoever to any sort of financial information.

      Financial information isn’t the only information that an insider trader can use.

      To avoid messy and complicated real life examples, let’s go with a fictional one, from The Associate released 1988.

      The character Laurel Ayres is an investment banker who starts her own business. One day while out with a former associate she hired, she sees two men sitting down to a business lunch. No big deal, right?

      She knows who they are. One is Owner of Dinky Company, while the other is High-Level Exec of major MegaCorp. The restaurant is maybe a couple steps above fast food and well away from both of their regular stomping grounds. Effectively, it is a (somewhat) secret meeting -and that means something big has a high chance of going down, and possibly very soon.

      Laurel’s right. MC announces purchase (or something) of Dinky Co., and DC’s stock goes through the roof.

      None of this is financial information, and it is likely far end of the bell curve. It is also far more complete then many people might get ahold of day-to-day.

      But thousands of pieces of information wind up passing through an admin asst’s hands. A piece might mean nothing at first -unless and until someone puts it into context that it means something really important. Which might be as simple as a piece seen two days later.

      Hence the precautions.

      Reply
  11. Some sort of Management Consultant

    Big 4 consultant here!
    Compliance rules are not as strict for consultants as for accountants but if one is covered under the policies it is…pretty damn hard to not follow them, if you are more senior at least.

    Reply
  12. Kate

    I honestly feel for both you and your husband. There are some jobs in the world where you can clock in in the morning and clock out at night, and there are others that touch on every aspect of your life, like where you can live, where you can travel, what you can invest in, etc. I have one of the latter, and it sounds like your job is one of the latter too. While this aspect of it is a legal requirement, it’s not always easy for a spouse to submit to that level of control, especially when it’s not your employer but yours [gender dynamics often play into this as well, although not always].

    I doubt that there is anything you can do *at work* to make this smoother- it’s a legal requirement. But I don’t think throwing your husband out with the bathwater is necessarily the best suggestion either.

    I know you’re early on in your tenure with the new company, but do you have any coworkers that you can reach out to and ask how they (and their spouses if they have them) have navigated it? At worst, you can then tell your husband that you’ve reached out to colleagues and there’s no other options; at best, they/their spouses might reach out to commiserate.

    Reply
    1. MK

      It’s one thing to marry a person knowing that these restrictions will apply to you, or for your spouse to accept a job, both of you knowing that you will have to comply in the future. It’s another for a company to suddenly change your partner’s status and for yoy to find yourself obligated to follow these rules.

      Basically, the OP and her husband need to have now the discussion they might have had before marrying, or before her accepting the job.

      Reply
    2. Marcy Marketer

      I agree on this, especially that requirements from people outside the company can seem abnormal, when they seem normal to the person in the company because hey– it’s their industry.

      My husband doesn’t get that I don’t get overtime when I have to work extra events (he is in healthcare and overtime is the norm), and I think it’s annoying his office doesn’t pay for supplies like staplers! Some of my friends don’t get that I have to work five specific weekends of the year (for those events). Meanwhile, I have amazing vacation time and they think it’s totally normal (and maybe it is for their industry) that they only get three personal days.

      Reply
    3. kbeers

      Agreed. I once worked for a university that decided to implement a smoke-free campus policy. There was a year of “optional compliance” and then the policy would be enforced going forward. Lots of smoking cessation programs, etc. For 99% of employees this wasn’t a big deal. But my position required that I live on campus, and my spouse smoked. And my supervisor decided that she would mandate that our entire department and all of our live-in family members would be expected to fully comply even during the optional compliance period.

      This was similarly sprung on me. I pushed back and told my supervisor that it was unreasonable to expect my spouse to comply during optional compliance (especially with very little notice and for something that is an addiction). She did not like it. My spouse just said he wouldn’t comply. I was very caught in the middle. Luckily after I pushed back with all sorts of (IMO) good points about why this didn’t make sense, my supervisor dropped it.

      So I get what OP is dealing with. But I agree that they handled it poorly. This is two separate conversations- OP and spouse, and OP and company- not one three-party conversation, which is awkward.

      Reply
      1. AD

        This is two separate conversations- OP and spouse, and OP and company- not one three-party conversation, which is awkward

        This is key

        Reply
  13. Sarah

    This is actually something I have some experience handling. I used to work for a mutual fund company, and I was the person responsible for “pre-clearing” trades for access persons as part of our insider trading compliance process. What I recall is (caveat: this was fifteen years ago and also not in Australia) is that the requirement was restricted to the trading of individual stocks or derivatives (like options) related to individual stocks. So, buying or selling shares of a mutual fund or, as you say, an ETF would not require pre-clearance.

    The process itself was not very onerous, either – if you wanted to trade, you filled out a simple form (it had stuff like security name, CUSIP, number of shares, etc. I just did a quick lookup to see if any of our funds were trading in that security (maybe just on that day?) and if not, you were clear to trade. The idea was that funds would typically trade in pretty large positions, and if the company was below a certain market cap, or the trading volume in the security was thin, the trade could be enough to change the stock price. If you were in a position to know about such a trade (an “access person”), then the implication was that you could be using your knowledge of pending fund trades to game the price of the stock you were trading personally.

    Maybe if the husband knew more details about exactly what the process entailed, and the real reasons behind it, he would accept it more easily? That said, it is a big deal, not just for you but for your firm. Separate accounts don’t really mean anything, as I understand it – if you are spouses, it’s understood that if he benefits, you benefit. Even if you don’t have direct access to the account used for the trade.

    Good luck!

    Reply
    1. fposte

      Oh, that’s interesting information; thanks for explaining! I was looking at some recent SEC actions taken against spouses, and it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t the name on the account that mattered there (and wow, do people do some obviously unethical stuff).

      It seems clear to me that it wouldn’t be much of a problem at my level of trading (which I don’t even think of as trading), but there a lot of people who, as either hobby or something more, trade with a frequency that would make even this small step pretty annoying. If the OP’s husband is in that category, I feel for him. Is this a policy that would usually be communicated to people before they were hired, do you know?

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        If he is a regular trader, then it would be like asking his wife’s employer for permission every time he makes a purchase form Amazon. It’s almost creepy. I understand why it’s a policy, but it’s a big commitment.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          Eh, I don’t know if you can really compare it that way. There’s much greater legal implications to buying stock than there are to buying something off Amazon, so it makes sense that accordingly there’s more oversight to those purchases. The transaction is way, way more complicated when you go click buy on eTrade than when you click it on Amazon, you just don’t see it because the technology has improved so dramatically.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            But you’re still viewing this as the insider :-). To the husband, who’s the outsider, it’s like buying on Amazon. And his view counts here too–the insider doesn’t automatically have the winning viewpoint on the significance and impact, just on the technical details.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              Ha – fair enough. I guess my thing is that if you’re going to be buying stocks, you should have slightly more idea of what you’re actually buying and what that means compared to buying something off Amazon. But I suppose the increased accessibility of stock trading also means a lower education barrier to doing it :)

              Reply
              1. fposte

                We’ve kind of reinvented the ’20s in that respect, haven’t we? One of my most haunting equities tales was the thread on the Contrarian Investor forum where people were certain, *certain* that GT Advanced Technologies was going to make a killing for them because they had researched it very, very carefully (to be fair, its involvement with Apple was pretty promising). But you know, stuff happens, and GTAT went bankrupt, and these people found it a literal impossibility for something they believed in so strongly (and in some cases put their life savings behind) to have failed. And that was without apparent legal skulduggery even–just the vagaries of the market.

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  Oof. My VP often tells the story of her parents freaking out about their retirement accounts after the 2008 crash. Their peers all pulled out of their accounts but she forced her parents to leave the money in there. She actually made them give her the quarterly statements in their sealed envelopes as proof they weren’t looking at the balances and stressing themselves out.

                  And of course it’s 8 years later and they’ve made back everything they lost and then some; meanwhile their peers screwed themselves by selling low. But you have to know what you’re actually buying into and understand that there’s always risk, and that means sometimes you take a hit and you have to have the patience and the means to wait it out while things repair themselves.

                2. ExceptionToTheRule

                  @LBK – My retirement age parent had friends do similar things in ’08 while I insisted that parent stop looking at the Dow 6 times a day and leave her investment accounts alone. Fortunately, her broker was telling her the same thing.

                3. Natalie

                  @ Exception to the Rule, if you think she’d be receptive she should listen to the Marketplace episode about how the Dow is garbage.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        “Wow, do people do some obviously unethical stuff”

        This was my reaction during easily 75% of my series 7 prep. I kept sitting back and going “oh my god, did someone seriously think that was an ok thing to do??”

        Reply
  14. Government Worker

    Also, OP, you say that you don’t have shareholdings, but you need to realize that yes, you do. Your husband may have bought them in your name, but that makes them your assets and you could be the one in trouble if they run afoul of these policies and laws. This sort of interaction around investments among spouses (what’s in who’s name and who actually controls the account) is exactly why the law covers spouses’ assets, too, and sometimes other household and family members.

    Reply
    1. she was a fast machine

      This is what’s getting me; regardless of anything else, if the marriage changes and if the spouse does anything, OP needs to know what’s in her name and take charge of them. If her husband does in fact keep trading investments in her name she is responsible for them. If something illegal happens with those assets, it’s her butt on the line, and the old “well my husband handles the investments” business won’t work.

      Reply
  15. Zooey

    Why not put it into ETFs for now, then make plans to meet jointly with an accountant in the next few months to come up with a longer-term investment strategy for the duration of your time at the company?

    After talking to him, I’d also send your husband an email summarizing the conversation (and let him know you’re doing it). Could be useful in the event of an audit or legal action where you have to make the case he traded securities in your name against your will.

    Reply
    1. Government Worker

      I’m guessing the accountant/investment advisor would say to leave all the money in mutual funds and ETFs. When you have less than $100k in assets in the market, buying and selling individual stocks is a hobby, not a long-term investment strategy.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Putting it in ETFs means selling all the stock–that could, if there are decent capital gains, mean a significant tax cost. I would explore the trading possibilities first if gains are a factor.

      Reply
      1. ExcitedAndTerrified

        It could also, depending on where the stocks are currently at, in relation to where the spouse bought them, mean taking a loss (and possibly even a substantial one).

        Reply
  16. animaniactoo

    he might (c) get rid of the stuff under my name but make it clear that what I don’t know won’t hurt me for the rest

    .

    I think that at this point, you know who you’re dealing with and the bigger picture question is what risks you’re willing to take. I’m saying that on a multi-level of risk. The risk of keeping the job, and the risk of keeping him. Sometimes, we can love people with all our hearts and not be able to have partnerships with them because of whatever conflicts or issues mean that the risk to ourselves is to great. The risk of what we give up, what we sacrifice in order to stay in that relationship. I’m not saying ditch your husband at all. Simply to be really clear-eyed about what risks you are taking for yourself in staying with him, what it means for your own decision-making process, etc. And to be really really sure that you’re willing to give that up.

    Separately, I would be clear to your husband that you don’t want to be put in a position to risk your job, and there really is nothing in between “follow the rules and ask permission” or “leave the job because we can afford that and go look for something else that won’t create an issue, even though X, Y, Z reasons for keeping the job.” I would consult people whose job it is to assess risk before doing that though, so that you can come to the conversation armed with “here’s the potential consequences of what you’re talking about, outside of the risk of getting fired and my professional reputation” and whether or not YOU are willing to risk that.

    Per what some people have said above, I think it would also be good to investigate what the approval process would be and discuss with him how much of an issue it would really create to have to do it. I’m not a stock market person, but I know that sometimes it really matters if you make that trade now or next week. If their approval process is unwieldy enough that you’d be having this kind of issue, then his point about not wanting to ask permission is stronger and it is a question of whether the job works for your partnership, given that this is something he has already been doing and is part of his financial planning.

    Reply
  17. Anon 12

    This is not at all unusual for somebody in a Finance role to have to deal with and aside from the fact that spouse hasn’t been exposed to it before he sounds like he’s being a baby about it. Suck it up, request information about anything that’s unclear and move on. These policies may seem onerous but they are intended to protect the company and employees from even the appearance of criminal behavior or unseemly conflicts of interest. I can’t imagine my spouse being a jerk about it or refusing to cooperate and putting my job in peril as a result.

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      Honestly, not knowing much about finance, I found this really upsetting and shocking and a gross violation of privacy. I don’t think he’s being a baby, but FWIW, I would act similarly if my privacy and freedom were infringed upon with no prior warning.

      Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        I’d be pissed if my husband came home and declared that I had to turn over all my medical records to his employer. I people make very personal investments and exposing them would feel like a similar invasion of privacy.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          I would hope that my spouse would have added, “I want us to talk about me changing jobs because of this invasion of your health records privacy.”

          I’d want something that gave me an idea that my husband had put me before his job.

          It could be OP that all your husband needs is a soft reminder that that you guys still each other’s number one focus.

          And no, I would not have asked my husband to leave his job but I would expect him to come to his own conclusion for a solid response to what was happening.

          Reply
      2. LBK

        Okay, but when you buy a security, you’re purchasing something with a giant amount of oversight and legal weight behind it. You shouldn’t be doing that without being prepared for the implications of that purchase and being ready to disclose information about that purchase as required.

        The simplest analogy I can think of is buying a car in a state where car insurance is legally required and then being shocked that the government wants your car insurance information to verify that you’ve purchased it. It’s not intrusion, it’s part of the agreement you made when you purchased an item that has laws and regulations associated with it.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          But that’s not the same, because it’s between the purchaser and the government. This is more like being shocked to find out that your spouse’s private sector work insists on being informed whenever you get your personal non-shared car serviced. Sure, it may turn out that the spouse works under some EPA regs I just made up and they need to know whenever there’s risk of contamination, but even though that’s legitimate, it’s still completely legitimate to be shocked.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            It’s definitely not a perfect analogy, I’m just trying to come up with something relateable to people who don’t trade securities or work in finance. Although it is still ultimately driven by the government, because the concern is violation of insider trading laws, not just something the company does to be invasive.

            Reply
          2. Government Worker

            Maybe I’ve just known about these policies for long enough that they seem sort of obvious to me, but I don’t see why it takes more than a conversation/reading through the materials provided to come to terms with it. The initial shock is one thing, but most people have heard of insider trading and understand that the financial industry is heavily regulated, and the logic behind these disclosure rules is not that hard to understand.

            I’d be shocked if I had to alert my spouse’s employer every time I took the car in for an oil change, but if I knew her job was in some sort of lab environment and she had a reason about contaminants and potential toxic fumes or something, my reaction wouldn’t be “I just won’t tell you when I take the car in,” it would be “Ugh, ok.” And maybe I’d resist for a day or two but I’d get over it quickly.

            I’m more concerned that OP’s response after one tense conversation is not to bring it up again for a while (thus creating a time crunch) and to write to an advice columnist and consider talking with Compliance before even having a follow-up conversation with her husband. OP seems almost afraid to bring it up again, which doesn’t seem great.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              I don’t think my reaction to anything like this would be “I just won’t tell you”–the fact that the OP is worrying that her husband might take this approach is a big thing, if she’s right in her worry or even if she’s wrong.

              But I also think you’re undervaluing how hugely touchy money is to many people. I was just reading an old AAM column where a poster who was doing surveys about sexual practices mentioned that they learned to keep the question about income band until the very end; people who would freely talk about their sexual tastes and purchases would clam up when asked within a broad range how much money they made. I went on a whole little journey reading this post from “Oh, hell no” to “Okay, I guess I get it” to “Yeah, I could probably comply with that.” The OP’s husband may need time to make that journey too.

              Reply
              1. Government Worker

                Fair enough. I worked at a financial services firm where this sort of thing was really common, and my wife worked at a law firm that represented some publicly traded companies and so we had to fill out a disclosure for that, so I guess I made that little journey so long ago I can hardly remember it (before I had any assets, really).

                I’m also remembering that in my data monkey role at the financial services firm ages ago I set up a little thing to let the compliance office detect when a financial consultant bought/sold a stock in their personal account in opposition to what was going on in his or her client’s accounts, because that’s a major red flag for various nefarious things. Mostly my job was about other stuff, but I got exposed to why these regulations exist a long time ago.

                Reply
            2. LBK

              Yeah, thanks to Martha Stewart I’d think the concept of insider trading would be pretty familiar to the public nowadays.

              I think this is all about perspective; I come from a similar background as yours and likewise I made the “acceptance of disclosure regulations” journey a long time ago so it’s hard for me to remember that people aren’t used to it.

              Reply
          3. Mookie

            But that’s not the same, because it’s between the purchaser and the government.

            The government created the laws that necessitate the disclosure (for very obvious ethical reasons) and such laws should not be shocking surprises to savvy, well-informed, and responsible investors. There are all kinds of regulations, beyond this one, regarding when and how to mitigate potential conflicts of interest.

            Reply
        2. Temperance

          Except in your analogies, the responsible party is the one not doing their due diligence, not the responsible party’s completely uninvolved spouse.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            But the spouse isn’t “completely uninvolved” because there’s legal financial ties between a married couple, plus a high potential for even the appearance of indiscretion.

            Consider, for instance, that immediate family members of employees of a company are usually barred from participating in contests being held by that company. Yeah, those people are technically autonomous humans who make their own choices and don’t have any direct involvement in the relationship between the employee and their employer, but it’s pretty reasonable to see that there’s connections there that could potentially be exploited or at least appear to be exploited.

            Reply
            1. Adam V

              The problem with the contest analogy is that it usually doesn’t require the spouse to take any action to *not* participate in a contest.

              Reply
              1. LBK

                I’m only addressing the idea that the husband is “completely uninvolved” and that the company has no cause to be concerned with how he invests just because he’s married to an employee. My points was just that there are plenty of cases where the actions of someone’s spouse are relevant to their employer, and it’s a little disingenuous to claim like there’s no chance of impropriety between spouses.

                Reply
                1. Adam V

                  I think we agree – I’m just addressing the idea that he should just “comply like a normal person” because it’s part of her job now, and minimizing the fact that he’s now jumping through extra hoops for her.

                2. Temperance

                  That’s really taking my quote out of context. I was replying to your analogies, which I still feel miss the mark. The situation here is that a spouse is being required to disclose his private financial information to his wife’s employer, and he’s reticent to do so. He’s not an idiot who decided that he doesn’t need to offer proof of insurance. He’s a step away from her job. Your analogy would apply if he decided that he didn’t need to disclose to his own employer.

                  I don’t even think that the contest thing is a good analogy, because that’s common knowledge, and is disclosed up-front in the rules of pretty much every contest ever. You would have to be woefully uninformed to not know this.

                  I never once made any claim that there was “no chance of impropriety between spouses”.

        3. Buffay the Vampire Layer

          Similar car analogy. It’s kind of like your spouse receiving a company car as a benefit and requiring you to turn over a valid DL to their company in the event you end up driving it. Sort of.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Yeah, that’s closer. There aren’t many situations outside of the financial industry where assets owned are so legally sensitive that it would be necessary to know your spouse’s, not just your own, so it’s hard to come up with a good parallel.

            Reply
          2. Adam V

            It’s more like you have to show them your drivers license now, along with your full driving record, and every time you want to drive your *own* car (not even your spouse’s car), you have to fill out a form saying “I still haven’t gotten in any accidents or gotten any tickets” and send it to your spouse’s company for them to keep on file.

            I’d be a bit annoyed if every time I wanted to drive to the bar (buy a share of stock), I have to fill out a form to let my spouse’s company know I was doing it. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t do it anyway, but I would sure like everyone involved to realize that this new process is going to turn something I used to enjoy into a royal pain.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              you have to fill out a form saying “I still haven’t gotten in any accidents or gotten any tickets” and send it to your spouse’s company for them to keep on file.

              I’m not sure I see how this syncs up with the analogy. Their concern isn’t how good you are at investing, it’s that they don’t want you investing in a stock that you could potentially game by having inside information. They don’t care what you do when you’re in any other car, but when you open the garage they want to know if you’re getting in their car or not so that if you are, then they can make sure you’re driving safely.

              Keep in mind that this isn’t just the company being creepy. This all ties back to insider trading, which is has heavy regulations surrounding its prevention and serious consequences. It’s not just to be annoying.

              Reply
              1. Adam V

                My point was that it’s not something that only applies when he’s “in her car” – it’s something that applies every time he wants to purchase a stock. Yesterday, he didn’t even have to tell his wife what stock he’s *already* bought – now he’s got to tell her and her entire company before he’s even allowed to buy it, and they may come back and say “no, sorry, you can’t”.

                I’m not saying the regulations don’t make sense – they totally do. I get that the finance industry is heavily regulated, and there are good reasons for it. I’m just saying that it’s a pretty big change from yesterday, and she’s kinda presenting it as “gee, that’s too bad.. for you” (see: “comply like a normal person”).

                Reply
                1. Not So NewReader

                  This is the world we have, the regulations even have regulations.

                  I see the shock here and I think this is only a tiny fraction of what is going on out there. People do not realize the level of micromanagement and they are shocked when they are made aware. Currently, I am watching a situation for a particular grant. The rules are so burdensome that NO ONE is applying for the grant. In previous years many communities applied. It’s simply too hard now.

                  I went down to my town office to ask why I had received such a large rebate on my taxes. I was told I had to call the state office because they were not allowed to explain it to me.

                  We live in a world with a lot of regulations and we can anticipate that there will be more regulations and more and more….

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        But Temperance, we have the same issues in law. We routinely disclose all our financial holdings and prior clients, and the financial holdings of those in our immediate family (spouse, kids), as well as any accounts for which we serve as a trustee or executor. And sometimes that also means our partner cannot purchase/trade stocks in certain companies because of the risk of creating a conflict. So although it might sound invasive, these kinds of regulatory requirements are common in a lot of professions.

        I think OP’s husband’s reaction is totally normal, but I would also hope that someone married to a person subject to these kinds of regulations would ultimately come around to the fact that it’s part and parcel of being with someone in that profession/industry.

        Reply
  18. Mena

    Unsure about Australia but in the US, you don’t have an option – this is a requirement of your job. So, if this works similarly in Australia, your husband doesn’t have a choice … at all. And you’ll be the one accountable if he refuses this required process. He’s putting you in a very difficult position, pitting you against your employer (and not just your employer … your industry and its required practices). In the US, he wouldn’t be able to attain any special exemption status because, well, there is nothing special here.
    Good luck – I hope he accepts that he’s not in control here.

    Reply
  19. Christy

    I admit, I think my feelings on this issue are swayed by my ironclad opinion that individuals should only ever trade ETFs anyway. Because to me, this requirement doesn’t seem that onerous. (I’m also a US federal employee with certain restrictions on her.)

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I’m a fan of mutual funds myself, but if you’ve got shares you inherited from Grandma, swollen with capital gains and sentiment, it doesn’t necessarily make great financial or emotional sense to cash it in.

      Reply
      1. Government Worker

        So you declare those, and if you ever do decide to sell them then you go through the company’s approval process. And in the meantime if you have shares from Grandma in a company then your wife shouldn’t be auditing them, so her firm needs to know about it.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Yes, I get that that’s the policy–I’m pointing out that simply selling out to buy ETFs isn’t an automatic answer either.

          Reply
  20. nerdgal

    In my previous job, I would have been fired if my husband had traded in certain types of securities, regardless of whether I knew about it or not, no matter whether it was a joint account or his separate account. These provisions are pretty common and not intended to be more onerous than they have to be. Here’s hoping that he can be convinced to take it seriously. Just part of the deal when you are married and your spouse has certain jobs.

    Reply
  21. Lora

    Ohhhh dude. I am so sorry. This is one of those, you may have to make a choice. Or he has to make a choice.

    It is a fairly big deal that is hard for people not in the finance field to understand that this is truly, honestly, really mandatory and a consequence of being married to someone who does your job. When you choose the career, that’s what you give up; when you choose to marry/cohabitate with someone who is in this career, that is what you give up. Just like long distance truckers give up seeing their families every night and emergency responders give up their personal safety to varying extents. It just is.

    A similar thing in my field: I can’t buy anything for any health care practitioner in my state. Not so much as a tee shirt or take-out fast food. Nothing – no pens, no pencils, absolutely nothing. In other states there’s a small dollar value, usually $10-20, which is deemed acceptable. I work for Big Pharma and we are expressly forbidden to do so. Thankfully, when I’ve interacted with physicians and nurses socially, they understand why they aren’t getting more than a card from me at holidays and birthdays, but it can get weird when we are figuring out how to split the check at a restaurant. I can hold stocks, but I have a LOT of blackout dates.

    Did you know this was going to be a thing before you took the job, or did they tell you after the fact?

    Reply
    1. Undine

      Does that change if you are related to a health care practitioner? I mean, does that mean you can’t marry a health care practitioner? Because for sure you would be buying them something.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        Probably Lora would have to disclose where her spouse works and she would probably have some restrictions because of it.

        Reply
        1. Lora

          If I married a health care practitioner, s/he would be very restricted in their career. For sure it would be viewed by employers as pretty sketchy and their prescribing would be pretty limited – maybe a radiologist who doesn’t normally prescribe much would have an easier time of it, or a pathologist, but any practitioner who regularly prescribes anything or does pharmacology research would get a lot of side-eye.

          It’s a non-issue for me personally, but now that you mention it I don’t think I have any colleagues who have spouses who write prescriptions. I think one guy’s wife is an occupational therapist or something, but literally nobody else I work with has a spouse in clinical practice.

          Reply
  22. Marissa L

    If you have shareholdings in your name, you have shareholdings. These are legal issues. If your husband is going to skirt the law you’d best find another job. Also arranging for your company to overhear this conversation was folly.

    Reply
  23. PK

    I’m not in Finance so this is the first I’ve heard of something like this. I would be seriously irked about it and it doesn’t seem like she has much empathy for him in this matter. It may be legal but realizing and acknowledging that your job is basically hamstringing part of his independence would probably help. I’m very territorial over my independence so I’d be bothered by the whole thing including the insinuation that this has something to do with narcissism. That’s pretty dismissive of his concerns and issue with it.

    Ultimately, I would think that you guys would be able to come together on it but give the guy a break here. The goalposts have changed suddenly and he had no say in the matter.

    Reply
    1. Becky

      These types of policies are super common, to different extents in many many industries–not just finance. My job has nothing to do with finance and neither does my company. But we are a publicly traded company and so there are restrictions on when we can purchase company stock to prohibit insider trading.

      Reply
      1. PK

        I’ve never once come up against it and I’ve worked in a few different industries. Just because it’s common for some doesn’t mean it’s something he had any knowledge of prior to this poor conversation. I’ve had to report certain activities at previous jobs but that has never relayed out to a spouse or family.

        Then again, maybe he did know and now he’s just being stubborn.

        Reply
      2. Judy

        I’ve certainly been at a publicly company as an engineer where we had restrictions on company stock trades.

        Every place I’ve worked before my current company also required an annual disclosure form that did say we were to notify them immediately if any of the items changed. Included in the disclosure was:
        * Immediate family (including children, parents and siblings and inlaws and steps) that worked for a company that did more than $X in business with company.
        * Immediate family that worked for a company that was a competitor.
        * Anyone in household that owned more than 0.5% of any security or business.
        * Any individual security or business owned by anyone in the household that was more than $Y (So not mutual funds or EFTs)

        I believe there were more stringent rules for those who worked in the procurement areas.

        Reply
        1. BananaPants

          I have to fill out an annual disclosure statement asking the exact same things. Answering “yes” to any of them prompts a review by our ethics & compliance office. In most cases it’s a minor thing unless the person is in procurement or finance. My husband’s former employer was technically a supplier of my employer so I had to disclose and discuss it with E&C but it was no biggie – I’m an engineer with no purchasing power, and he worked in a customer service call center. We had no restrictions but I did have to disclose it annually.

          If I’d been a VP of finance in charge of selecting a telecommunications supplier, THEN it could have been an issue. He actually decided not to continue in an interview process once because we learned that the position was a B2B sales role with an industrial supplier that I often order parts from, and we felt that was “crossing the streams” a bit too much for our personal comfort.

          Reply
      3. ExceptionToTheRule

        I worked part-time for a non-profit that brushed up against electricity transmission policy and it required disclosures to ensure none of us were trying to beat the market on utility stocks. There was a divestment list as well that we had to comply with.

        Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think OP was insinuating that this had something to do with narcissism. I think OP was anticipating that us commenters would start to question what was going on in the marriage. So she took the preemptive strike of saying, “Yeah, there’s stuff going on with hubby, but I want to leave that as a separate story and not part of my question.”

      Which she is right on many levels, not the least of which she cannot let this issue go on and on. She needs to find a resolution or she could be out a job or worse, if she does not find a resolution.

      Reply
  24. hbc

    “(a) comply like a normal person.” Please be more fair to your husband, for both your sakes. Lots of people aren’t thrilled to find limitations put on them by their partner’s profession, whether you’re supposed to play First Spouse to a politician, schmooze with the dean to get your professor SO ahead, or having to be evasive or deceptive about your partner’s job because they work for the CIA.

    Maybe this is something you expected a long time ago based on your line of work, but he seems to have a sincere interest/hobby/whatever involved in this, and dismissing his reluctance to give it up as abnormal or narcissistic isn’t going to help.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      I re-read and I agree with this. I got tripped up on the “narcissistic tendencies”, but when I re-read I have to backtrack and think that the fact that he may have narcissistic tendencies does not mean he’s unreasonable in this case.

      I got closer to there towards the end of my post above, but I didn’t get all the way there and it’s a really valid point. If this is something where it’s going to create an issue in the way he trades and he’ll lose out on opportunities because of it, AND this is not an “expected part” of any position OP takes (as indicated by the fact that it’s new to both of them, and wasn’t part of the setup when s/he was hired) – he’s really really not out in left field. If anything, OP’s portion would be more out in left field in that the company has pulled a very restrictive switch on them, and leaving a job they can afford to leave is not actually on the table as a viable option.

      Reply
      1. nofelix

        While it’s not narcissistic to be perturbed by an unexpected burden from your partner’s employer, the same cannot be said for what he did next: hint that he may continue to trade without her knowledge. Assuming he understands the risk this exposes her to, it’s incredibly selfish and worrying that he’d even suggest it.

        Of course, he may think this is a legitimate loophole and just needs to be politely instructed otherwise.

        Reply
    2. beetrootqueen

      This.
      If this is something he loves doing asking him to give it up is a massive deal of course hell react badly. It doesn’t make him abnormal for not wanting to drop everything especially if he had no clue this was happening

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I think a normal person would push back on this and other similar restrictions. To me that is normal, to go along with it and not at least say “wth?” would make me wonder if the person was thinking about this at all.

      Reply
  25. Fintech

    It’s really very common in the Financial/Securities/Investment World, where I’ve worked for the last twenty five years. I currently work for a global financial services firm, and we have a similar, global policy regarding trading by access persons and their immediate family members.

    It’s a condition of your employment that you have to disclose all of your family’s brokerage accounts, so if your husband has one that you haven’t declared to your employer it could certainly be grounds for dismissal, and, if some sort of improper trading occurred, criminal action.

    I would urge you to take these rules very seriously. It’s often a shock to people who don’t work in financial services, and I’m sorry it’s affecting your family situation negatively. Your compliance department should be able to answer any questions you might have.

    Reply
  26. Just Me and My $0.02

    although I don’t have shareholdings, he has some under my name, as well as some under his own dating back to a time when he wasn’t tax-resident and I was.

    I suspect trying to explain the configuration of “mine but really his” is going to get complicated either way when you get back to the Compliance people. How likely are you to run into a similar issue if you change jobs? If this will come up again, don’t forget to factor in an industry switch if you continue to consider leaving so he doesn’t have to follow that policy.

    Reply
  27. SadieMae

    OP, I can’t comment on the legal issues here, but wanted to say this: I’m very glad to hear your husband’s getting help for his depression/PTSD/narcissistic tendencies – being willing to take that step is a good sign! – and I very much hope that will be helpful. However, my understanding is that narcissism in particular, being a personality issue, is not really something that can be fixed, although treatment and a willingness to acknowledge the issues can help people with NPD or similar lead much happier, healthier lives.

    At first it sounded as if you weren’t considering leaving your job, but your comment at the end about how you all could get by without your income concerned me, because I don’t want you to be put in a position where you can’t support yourself if your husband’s issues ever become intolerable and you decide you need a separation or divorce. It is very easy, in a relationship with someone with these issues, to get yourself into a situation where it’s like you’re in a box and the walls are closing in slowly – “we never see friends anymore because it’s upsetting for him,” “we can’t go to restaurants, it’s just too loud for her,” “I had to leave my job because freedom to invest without this kind of oversight is important to him.” Before you know it you can be living in a space so small you can’t stand up. It’s important that if that happens, you have a key to get out of that box. And that means money of your own and the ability to make more of it in the future. I would encourage you not to leave your job unless you can get a well-paying job you like where this isn’t an issue. And even then, I’d think twice, because in the phrase “I had to leave my job because he didn’t like the investment rules,” I hear the grinding sound of a wall sliding toward you…

    I hope this doesn’t come across in a judge-y way. I have mental illness issues myself and so does my son – I am *not* trying to say it’s hopeless to be married to someone with psychiatric issues! Far from it. But…please do be careful of the box closing in around you (which isn’t good for either you or him). And keep your keys with you.

    Reply
    1. Knitchic

      This.
      My husband has metal health issues too. And as the spouse it is so hard sometimes to walk that line between what is are normal concessions we all make for our family/SOSA and when the concessions become things that stop you from living a full life. It’s also hard to maintain empathy at times when things are hard for your spouse that seem so normal to you.
      Good luck OP, this is a tough road to travel.

      Reply
    2. Manders

      Chiming in from the perspective of the spouse who has a mental health problem: knowingly doing something that could get my husband fired or arrested would be miles over the line even when I was in the worst mental shape of my life. I would be pretty peeved if something like this was sprung on me suddenly, because I hate having my finances messed with, but my solution would absolutely never be option (c).

      I don’t know much about this guy’s diagnoses or whether he normally has trouble fully understanding or believing in consequences, but yikes. I hope OP’s fear of option (c) is just a panicked reaction in the moment and not something she genuinely thinks her husband might do.

      Reply
    3. halpful

      Hopefully it’s just a case of FLEAS or co-narcissism, which *is* something the husband can fix (slowly with a lot of work). But I agree with your advice. Hope for the best, but have a plan for the worst.

      Reply
    4. Marisol

      The OP wrote “narcissistic tendencies” which is not the same as full-bore NPD. We don’t know the extent of those tendencies, but I think it’s safe to assume that if it were an actual personality disorder, the OP would have mentioned it.

      Reply
    5. Anon for this one

      This!

      I commented above about panic and narcissism.

      I lived in that ever shrinking box for 27 years, until my ex did some stuff that endangered our kids in mid-2016 and shook me out of it. I only realised how small that box was, how hard it was to stand and how much it had affected me after I left. It can be so incremental that you start to accept stuff that is really wrong, because you accepted years of stuff that would be reasonable if isolated or temporary, but which actually became part of a huge permanent pattern with hundreds of other ‘little’ things. If someone had come to me at the start of my marriage and asked if I would accept a relationship like the last 5-10 years, I would have given a resounding “hell no!” (My husband probably would have been the same and not recognised himself from 20 years later.) Then you make one tiny concession, and another, and another, and find yourself years later trapped in a space that you worry you can’t escape. You can be in love with someone who has come to expect and need you to live in that tiny box.

      Please consider that you need financial independence and counselling of your own, OP. Your husband and you may never end up constructing that shrinking box, or may end up doing it unconsciously and out of good intentions. Counselling for youself can be important in figuring out how to keep you healthy when a partner has a mental illness or personality disorder. It can also help you to do the best for your partner.

      I think Allison’s advice and comments are really great if OP’s husband is in a headspace to be reasonable, but if he is not, there are some red flags. He doesn’t have to be malicious to not be in a good space.

      [Not everyone with the husband’s mental conditions will be unreasonable or end up constructing that shrinking box! As I said above, mental illness is not destiny! Everyone with an illness will be different.]

      Reply
  28. Trailing Spouse

    I agree with several of the posters above. First, the OP handled this poorly by dealing with this on the telephone in a semi-public way. Second, the letter betrays several relationship issues.

    I approach this question from a slightly different perspective. I am not in the accounting world. nor have I ever been asked to divest myself of securities owned directly because of my wife’s job.

    However, I have been asked to do a number of things because of her career (she is in the diplomatic corps). We recently returned from a posting where there were “substantial security issues.” I was required to notify Security Services if I travelled more than 30 miles from our apartment (even within the same country). I was required to carry a cellphone at all times and obey the texts received on it (i.e., avoid such-and-such neighbourhood today for security reasons). Understanding that husbands and wives often share information about their work, I was asked to obtain a Level II security clearance from the government. In fact, we even had to complete a “permission to marry” form when we got engaged so the government could vet me. While I suspect that permission to marry is rarely denied, I “bristled” somewhat like the OP’s husband upon hearing about this requirement.

    My point is, many marriages require that the spouse of the employee conform to certain rules. I may not have always liked them. But I always complied. Because not complying would be a pretty big strike against the marriage.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Of course — but it’s two-way. That means it’s a discussion and an acknowledgement of the impact on the other person and an empathetic conversation about what makes sense for them as a unit.

      Reply
      1. JuniorMinion

        I think its a question of stakes. There is more leeway when things are lower stakes. I am guessing most / all of OP’s industry is moving this way. Financial services in the US has gotten much stricter since I started working as the regulators have started attempting to prosecute anything that even looks like a violation of insider trading laws. I would be more willing to make it a discussion if it wasn’t something that is so common (now in the US in ALL financial services / investment management of a certain level / size pretty much) with such huge downsides / penalties to not complying or even questioning compliance. It’s unfortunate but three letter agencies sometimes do just get to do things / change the rules or way they enforce policies midstream and it does encroach on people’s lives. In the US, the SEC views anyone under your roof as having access to all info you do and they can and will prosecute you even if the trades are in your wife’s / child’s / dependent parent’s account.

        There is no “what makes sense,” in certain industries, unless you are really willing to completely change career trajectory.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          “What makes sense” will presumably end up being that the husband complies. But it’s disrespectful to him as her partner to just decide that on his behalf and announce he need to do it without giving him the courtesy of a discussion about it.

          Reply
          1. JuniorMinion

            Agreed – its probably the OP’s fear that her husband will just trade behind her back that is giving me hives over this. That’s a HUGE red flag to me.

            Reply
            1. animaniactoo

              OP is not thinking that the husband will do it behind their back. OP is afraid that husband will make clear he’s going to continue doing it for his own stock in his own name (not OP’s), and simply not give OP the details of what he’s doing. An open refusal to disclose rather than a hiding-behind-your-back doing it.

              They’re both issues, but they’re two very different flavors and one can be dealt with and is a reasonable process of drawing a boundary line in many many cases. It wouldn’t be in this one and that needs to be hammered out, but because it would be in the open, it likely is possible to do the hammering.

              Reply
            2. Turtle Candle

              Yeah, that’s what gets me here. The LW is concerned that her husband will continue doing this and just not tell her (which is not, AFAIK, going to legally protect either of them in case of an insider trading investigation). Which seems to me to be the bigger problem, because it means either that the husband has given the LW reason to believe that he’d go behind her back on something this big and potentially career-destroying (and jail-sentence-causing, even!), OR that he hasn’t, but the LW doesn’t trust him anyway (possibly for other reasons). Either one seems like a significant problem.

              Reply
          2. Government Worker

            You’ve said something like this a couple of times, Alison, and I think it’s a little off the mark. In some relationships, one partner could say to the other “Hey, I need you to come to my boss’ retirement party so I put it on your calendar.” In others, that would be super-presumptuous and would never fly for a variety of reasons. It’s about the context of how these two people understand their commitments to their jobs and each other and how they manage their time.

            Similarly, in this case what the appropriate way for OP to approach it would be is wrapped up in the details of how they jointly support OP’s career, how they handle money, their attitude towards privacy, etc. My wife brought home a long complicated disclosure form for a past job and just handed it to me to fill out the same way she would with health insurance paperwork or something, and I definitely didn’t feel that it was disrespectful – it would have been super-weird for her to approach it as a conversation about whether it was something I thought I could comply with given the context of our relationship. I wasn’t expecting that form in particular, but I had been a part of the decision for her to take the job and had worked in a similarly-regulated industry before so I immediately understood the reasons behind it, and she knew she didn’t need to hold my hand through some emotional journey around it.

            The problem is that OP misread the context of her relationship here, not that this particular issue always requires some sort of collaborative discussion.

            Reply
        2. LBK

          I’m totally with you. I think part of this, too, is that when you work in one of these industries, compliance is drilled into your head from day 1 and you’re reminded of it constantly (I just had to take my annual conflict of interest survey a few weeks ago). So when you’re presented with a new regulation, your reaction isn’t “Let’s talk about it” but “Oh sh*t, I need to get everything in order to comply with this ASAP so I don’t get fined”.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            This, this, this.
            OP, this is a great way to describe it to your husband. “Oh sh-t, I need to get everything in order to comply with this ASAP so I don’t get fined.” Explain to him that the fines come out of your household budget. I don’t know what the fines are like in Australia but the little I have seen here is that low fines start in the thousands of dollars (US).

            But this goes back to having the big picture conversation of if it makes sense for you to stay at this job. The nature of the beast is regs. If he does not like this batch, he can expect the next batch to be even more stringent.

            Reply
      2. Adam V

        I think this is my biggest issue here – it’s not that the restrictions don’t make sense, or that they’re unbearable for him. It’s more that she’s presenting it as a fait accompli when in reality it may make more sense for her to tell the company “sorry, but in my present circumstances, I can’t function under this restriction, so unless you can lift it (maybe by transferring me to a different department where it doesn’t apply?), I may have to leave the company”.

        Reply
        1. Statler von Waldorf

          You know, there was something bothering me about this letter that I couldn’t put my finger on, and this was exactly it. Very good point.

          Reply
    2. hbc

      Actually, the restrictions you describe were not restrictions based on your marriage–they were restrictions based on your location. You could have stayed married and let her go overseas. I wouldn’t consider that a strike against the marriage any more than a solider failing to go awol because a deployment won’t allow an accompanying spouse.

      You have to have buy-in from “the spouse of the employee” about the rules before you start talking about requiring compliance, and you certainly have to respect something new sprung on them.

      Reply
    3. Marcela

      From another trailing spouse, I do not always comply. Because being always required to say yes would mean I’m not a spouse, but the suitcase the US government thinks I am (for in the whole 5 years we requested visas, once a year, and then in the green card process, that lasted 6 months, I was not asked a single question. It was as if I did not exist. Or I was a suitcase ;) ). It is actually very important to me that I can say no, and that in every occasion there has been a big conversation about the future, the first thing DH says is “remember that you can always say no, now or the moment we are ready to move”. Our path is not easy, therefore only one of us is not going to able to do all the sacrifices.

      Reply
  29. Brett

    On the relationship side of this, be careful with the narcissistic personality disorder part of this.

    I was in a similar situation, npd parent needed to supply financial information to my school (fafsa verification) and felt that the rule should not apply to him for various reasons (including that I was on a full ride scholarship). School contacted him to tell him that my academic standing was at stake and he still refused. I called him pleading that I was going to lose all my aid and get kicked out, and he said the school could not make him do anything and would never take away my scholarship.

    School retroactively took away my scholarship, kicked me out, and sent me a huge past due bill. He blamed me and the school for everything. Not every person with narcissistic personality disorder will handle a situation the same way, but realize that the way in which that disorder clouds your worldview can lead to irrational resolutions of a situation like this.

    Reply
    1. The Strand

      Late feedback, but I wanted to bolster Brett’s point. People with NPD think they are special, and do not believe the rules apply to them. OP is right to be concerned.

      (Brett, I hope you were able to find a new opportunity to finish school somewhere else. And presumably go no/low-contact with the parent.)

      Reply
  30. Hannah

    Hopefully OPs husband just needs some time to do some research and see that this is something normal for her industry, not a big deal. A lot of people have to sit through corporate insider trading spiels, so this just sounds normal and reasonable, but if he hasn’t had that experience maybe it sounded like the company was just choosing to be very rigid and restrictive for no good reason.

    Reply
    1. AndersonDarling

      Yep, yep, yepperino. The OP and her husband are dealing with raw emotions. Give it a few days to calm down. If they love each other, I’m sure they can work through it.

      Reply
  31. Faith

    My coworker told me that she once had to have a phone conversation with her husband’s employer about her own retirement account. The employer had a similar policy about requesting permission to make any trades for accounts that husband had control over. She said that her direct response to that was “he has as much control over my personal retirement account as you do, which is none”, and apparently that was the end of the conversation. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t have worked for my circumstances. I cannot even enroll in my own employer’s stock purchase program because my spouse’s independence requirements.

    Reply
  32. cobweb collector

    Find your compliance officer and talk to them. I have a feeling you’re subject to the same rules I am (my employer is a member of the NYSE so I am subject to rules so similar that I wonder if your employer isn’t also a member of the NYSE and therefore we have the same rules). There are ways to make exceptions. They’re a pain in the neck and the compliance officer won’t want to do it, but if there are extenuating circumstances and reasons for leniency (for example, if your job function is not likely to have you encounter insider information which could lead to insider trading), they may be able to do it.

    Some other things which may work:
    * Another option (the one my employer uses actually), is to use the trading platform owned by your employer. That way everything can be “monitored” at the back end and you don’t have to ask permission for any specific trades.

    * If the accounts are managed accounts (meaning a financial adviser or someone else like that is managing the investing), there is room for leniency there too. Maybe it’s time to just get an investment adviser and transfer the job to a professional?

    * Most brokerage firms will send duplicate statements to your employer. Again, no authorization is needed before a trade is done, but the compliance office will get a copy of everything periodically and can audit for suspicious activity.

    * ETFs are a great investment, especially for long term non-expert investors. Seriously.

    Reply
    1. Cochrane

      If the accounts are managed accounts (meaning a financial adviser or someone else like that is managing the investing), there is room for leniency there too. Maybe it’s time to just get an investment adviser and transfer the job to a professional?

      This is what I was going to suggest too, considering that liquidating or transferring ownership of your portfolio would be the only above-board alternatives. Anywhere I’ve worked, you would not need pre-clearance of accounts that are not under your discretionary control and are managed by an IM.

      Reply
  33. Kyrielle

    OP, you said he’s not unwilling to provide the list. Would he be willing to provide the list and refrain from trading for, saying, 60-90 days while the two of you explore the ramifications of this (including getting more information on how the compliance aspect works, and him exploring the reasons why this is required), and decide on the next best course? If that’s you moving on from this job, then he would be free to resume trading (possibly after a cooling-off period – you’d want to find out from your compliance department when he’d be free to trade without consideration for your previous exposure to information), so he’d be making a *short term* commitment to the rules rather than a long term commitment initially.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      This makes a *lot* of sense to me, and the interval might even end up shorter if they can talk to a compliance officer or firm equivalent soonish. I think part of the husband’s response is due to the urgent feeling here, and I suspect it would help to set it up as something that doesn’t need to be dealt with drastically Right This Minute.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Point, I should have said a commitment to not trade without going through the firm’s required procedure for 60-90 days while figuring out what next steps are. If he decides after investigation that using the procedures isn’t too onerous and that he’ll stick with it, then there’s no reason not to go ahead and trade. I just figured not having to use or not-use the procedures until (if!) he’s okay with them would be a good thing. But yes, it could be shorter if he ends up deciding that he does choose to comply for the long term.

        Reply
  34. MP

    I have worked in Big 4 in both Australia and the US (and several other countries). Each office and each country maintains lists of companies that they do business with and depending on your role/interaction with the client you have various levels of permission to engage in business, invest, lend from/to etc.

    One of recurring themes I heard from people joining the firm was that they could not get this information prior to officially joining meaning that Day 1 at work often involved an uncomfortable discussion about needing to divest of certain positions. One particularly difficult situation involved someone needing to sell (their own, not their spouse’s) position in a family business.

    Reply
  35. Karenina

    I agree with others who have said this seems like more of a relationship issue. I’m afraid I can’t speak to the legal ramifications, but honestly… when you know what the professional and legal risks are for you, make sure he understands what those are. Make sure you know which risks you are willing to take and which you aren’t. And if he expects you to live with a risk you have said you aren’t willing to live with because of his pride? That’s not acceptable.

    Reply
  36. seejay

    [i]get rid of the stuff under my name but make it clear that what I don’t know won’t hurt me for the rest.[/i]

    Just my two cents on that line but a friend’s common-law wife was claiming poverty level income while getting paid $40-50/hour under the table for babysitting and keeping the bulk of it in her own account. He had no idea she was actually making that much money, or that their taxes were incorrect. Then they got audited.

    I don’t know what charges and fines and shit he’s paying… he didn’t know what she was doing, but it’s now certainly hurting him. For the purposes of taxes and the audit, they’re treated as one unit, regardless of whether he knew about it or not.

    Denial or ignorance isn’t a good defense.

    Reply
    1. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms

      In a similar vein,my first husband told me he was taking care of filing the taxes,and I didn’t have to worry about it.
      Cut to a year or so after the divorce…
      Guess how much the IRS cared about my excuse of ” but he said he took care of it!”

      Reply
  37. Student

    If he’s being treated for major depression and PTSD (but if it’s not currently under control), and you are working in finance but he doesn’t, then you probably shouldn’t completely abdicate household financial decisions to him. If you’re the part of the couple better informed to make these decisions, either because of your experience or because he’s not stably being treated for these problems, then you should talk with your spouse about them and try to come up with something mutual, but also insist on being heard and having your expertise and opinion respected.

    Hold your ground if his decision is ultimately irrational – like deciding to lie to you about his trades – because that is destructive to you both. If you think it’s an issue, you’re well within normal to demand regular transparency into his separate finances, provided you reciprocate with transparency into your own finances, because you two are financial partners through marriage and each person’s actions affect you both.

    Reply
    1. animaniactoo

      From the OP’s post, their finances are not merged so even though he’s placed some stocks in OP’s name he is not in charge of all household finances.

      Also, it seems like OP does not expect him to lie about the trades, but rather to potentially draw a boundary line around his handling of the ones in his name that won’t work for OP being able to keep the job without risk. “…but make it clear that what I don’t know won’t hurt me for the rest”

      Reply
      1. Student

        I lived with an addict, who controlled the household finances, for nearly two decades. The addict let the addiction run the show above all other considerations. It’s a bad and vulnerable place to be fully dependent on someone who’s got a severe mental illness and is not dealing with it in a healthy, functional way. I’ve also lived with mentally ill people who have their condition under control, or have a mild condition, and they should be treated like any other normal adult with respect to their finances – mental illness alone doesn’t make someone unable to handle the basics of life. However, mental illness CAN make someone unable to handle basic finances and other major decisions in an appropriate way, it CAN lead to highly destructive behavior, and it’s clearly on the letter writer’s mind that some of this may be illness-motivated behavior instead of a rationally approached, mutual decision.

        Reply
  38. Marissa

    Please go talk to your compliance officer! On a different note, this sounds like a pretty huge surprise to spring on employees.

    Reply
    1. sam

      it doesn’t sound that crazy actually – it actually sounds like the company had these policies/procedures in place, but then determined that an additional group of employees (including OP) did work that required them to be subject to them. Once that happens, they can’t just let those employees sit around for an indefinite period of time NOT complying with the policy, because it’s a policy in pursuit of the company’s compliance with legal requirements.

      This happens more often than you’d think – either because compliance or internal audit does some sort of review of everyone’s roles and discovers a gap, or because the roles have changed necessitating the coverage (or some combination of the two).

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yeah, I had missed that this was a change in the company, not just belated info about the OP’s job. We did the same thing with background checks here when the state law changed; those don’t affect spouses (and I don’t know what happens to people who are already employed and who have issues come up on checks), but maybe someday they’ll expand to.

        Reply
        1. sam

          We have this come up all the time at my work – everyone always wants to be “in the know” about stuff, and managers always want to tout their successes before stuff gets publicly announced, and we always have to be like “but you realize that we’re going to have to tag everyone you tell as a designated person, right? Do they really *need* this information to do their jobs?”

          So of course now we end up with, like, 3/4 of the company as designated persons because the lawyers are here to facilitate the business!

          Reply
          1. Helen

            At my last job, the receptionist and the admins were designated persons, even though 75% of them got no advanced knowledge of, or had no access to any kind of inside information. Most of them didn’t even want the designation to begin with.

            Reply
            1. sam

              My admin is a designated person. She has access to my phone, email and schedule in order to do her job, and sits at a desk in the middle of the legal department, where people spend 90% of their time talking to each other about confidential matters within her earshot. that is more than enough.

              Reply
  39. Noah

    Even if Husband chooses the “sell off” option , he’ll need to give advance notice before he sells off, and he may be prevented from selling some of the stocks (at least at that moment) if they relate to a recent or upcoming company investment.

    Reply
  40. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    This is really high on the ethics list of not-doing! So high. It’s the CPA equivalent of me, a lawyer, sleeping with a current client I had met through representing them. Just sleazy, and the rule is there for a really good reason.

    Reply
  41. DKDK

    I’m a FINRA registered 7/24/63 who works in the compliance department of an asset management firm in NY. I would comment that FINRA/SEC (and I can’t speak to Australian regulation on this, but it appears that it may be very similar based off of the letter writer’s story) that these regulatory bodies typically view an employee’s personal accounts as including all accounts within their household (i.e. spouse, children etc). Very frustrating to be sure, but a fair number of recent insider trading cases have been undertaken based off of activity occurring in a spouse or immediate family member’s accounts, so regulatory bodies are fairly serious about policing this–especially now as Insider Trading laws are evolving and regulatory bodies are increasing surveillance/on site presence at these kinds of firms. If these firms are registered with said body, this level of supervision is often not a company choice (although companies can institute best practices or individual rules in addition to these regulatory policies) but one they’re obligated to comply with through a regulatory body.
    So I suppose, if anything, I would do some research on the specific regs related to this procedure (ask legal and compliance–we get this a lot and typically have fairly straightforward explanatory docs to help) and speak with your husband regarding this. I find that once people understand the nuance and potential civil and criminal implications (for both you and him), it often helps them understand and become more comfortable with the practice.

    Reply
  42. Helen

    Not me, but a friend of mine had trouble because of something like this. Her sister-in-law (husband’s sister, same surname), who has never bought or traded anything and doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of investing, randomly decided to buy some stock in a company that a friend’s relative has ownership in. It caused lots of trouble for my friend because that company was under audit by the company my friend worked at and ‘in-laws’ were included under ‘family’ by my friend’s company. She had no idea her sister-in-law bought the stock and even though she had never told her sister-in-law anything about stocks or investing it caused a huge mess in both her work and her personal life.

    Reply
  43. Adam V

    Now I remember what this reminds me of – in the TV show The West Wing, in the final seasons, CJ Cregg is promoted to Chief of Staff and gets a Secret Service detail. Whenever she goes to visit someone at their house (I only remember her visiting Toby and Danny), before she can enter, the Secret Service will go through the house to make sure there’s nothing unsafe (assassins waiting in the next room?) before she’s allowed to go inside.

    I feel like that’s sort of what’s going on here – Danny wants to date CJ, so he’s willing to put up with the fact that the Secret Service can just come in and go through his closets every time she visits, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big imposition that didn’t apply when she was the Press Secretary.

    Similarly, OP’s spouse now has this extra step to go through before he can make any trade. It’s not like the company is likely to tell him “no” on a regular basis, but before this rule, he didn’t have to wait for them to say “okay”, and now he does – every time. And that adds up.

    Reply
  44. Slightly Annoyed Newbie

    My first thought is, forget work, go home, apologise to your husband and see if your marriage can be / is worth saving.

    Think of it from his point of view:

    1. You have just started a new job.

    2. A while ago, you hinted that there might be an issue with work.

    3. You suddenly phone him, from work, in the middle of the day, and tell him that he must tell your boss every stock and share that he owns, and that he cannot buy or sell anymore without your bosses permission.

    4. You also tell him that if he doesn’t comply with this sudden, out of the blue, demand, you will quit your job.

    5. It also turns out that you considered it more important for your entire office to hear this private phone call, than to actually keep it private?

    My first thoughts would be:

    1. How long have you actually known about this? Did you know about this from the start but think that this was the only way to get me to agree to do this?

    2. Do I really want to be married to someone who behaves like this?

    3. I would be furious if someone did this to me.

    So yeah, work is a minor issue here, unless it’s more important than your marriage.

    Reply
    1. Marisol

      “2. Do I really want to be married to someone who behaves like this?” – I think that’s an extreme reaction. I can’t imagine many married couples making that leap over a mishandled compliance issue.

      Reply
  45. DaniTLR

    I worked in IT at a hedge fund and also had to comply with a declare current and get approval for new policy. Other than requiring a few more days, it wasn’t largely prohibitive. Neither I nor colleagues to my knowledge were denied any investments we wanted.

    Reply
  46. Confused Teapot Maker

    I think I’m going to reserve passing judgement on either OP or OP’s husband, as there’s too many unknowns about their priorities here. There’s a big difference in the situation where OP is being asked to give up their dream job because husband just likes have equities as his investment of choice, and a situation where husband is being asked to ditch a painstakingly planned investment strategy which could have serious long-term payoff when OP just wants to stay in a mediocre job for the sake of it.

    Like Alison suggested, I think OP and husband need to have a serious chat about what the priorities are, keeping all options open. I suspect it will most likely boil down to husband deciding another form of investment is acceptable (he sounds like he’s on that track already), but it could even be that OP decides this job isn’t worth the hassle of the hoops and starts looking elsewhere (OP has already said they don’t strictly need their job for the money and it sounds like this is the first time they’ve come across this issue, indicating that there could very well be other places they could work where this wouldn’t be a problem). But that’s really something OP and husband need to decide between them.

    Oh, and I would definitely rope the compliance department in by this point, OP. You’re essentially right on top of the deadline, assuming the issue hasn’t been solved between the time the letter was written and it was published.

    Reply
  47. whomever

    So I’ve seen a few “well, that’s a big surprise to spring” comments. Can’t speak for Australia, but I spent 15 years working on Wall Street for several Very Large Investment Banks you’ve almost certainly heard of, all of which have this sort of policy (and yes, that includes having to get pre-approval of trades for all family members). On one hand, I think people in the industry forget that not everyone knows this sort of stuff; I remember sitting through orientation a couple of times and seeing some exchanges along the lines of “but wait, I trade Maldovian Sunflower Futures on the Tiraspol Futures Exchange….you mean I have to deal with this?” with a “yes, you idiot” attitude. If you’ve been around the industry you kind of internalize the rules enough that these questions make you roll your eyes and you forget they might be innocent (also, Wall Street attracts Wolf of Wall Street Wannabees, so there’s less of an assumption of innocence). So I wouldn’t assume malice. But in the other hand, it’s probably a requirement of the industry, and in my experience, the “but I really want to trade this, I’m a special snowflake” folks are pretty much guaranteed to severely annoy everyone involved. Think of it like “I want to sell teapots in my spare time” in teapots or something similar.

    Reply
    1. Buffay the Vampire Layer

      Yeah, I’m really very surprised by the resistance to this. I’m not even in finance and these regulations fall into the “no shit, of course you have to do this” category for me.

      Reply
      1. JHunz

        But if these regulations are so incredibly straightforward and obvious for her career and the industry she works in, why is this the first time she’s having this conversation with him? Shouldn’t she have sat him down and discussed the probability of this months or years ago? It’s not his responsibility to be familiar with her industry, and it seems pretty clear-cut to me that if your career is going to limit the independence of your spouse that you should probably tell them that in advance rather than springing it on them with a short deadline to comply.

        Reply
        1. jb

          Yes, she should have, as a matter of career planning. “DH, pretty much all senior jobs in my field come with restrictions on stock trading for insider information/independence purposes. Right now I’m not at that level, but I will be eventually, so just a heads up.” Said at least a couple years ago.

          Unless this is the sort of relationship where he just doesn’t care to hear anything about her work, that would be a matter-of-course thing to talk about.

          Reply
      2. Adam V

        I feel like the resistance is more due to three things:

        a) her previous jobs have never placed these restrictions on either of them before – and these restrictions didn’t apply to them when she first took this job either
        b) neither of them paid enough attention at the beginning to realize that the new rules would result in a very large change for him – which resulted in a very compressed timeframe and additional stress on him to figure out what he needed to do with his portfolio
        c) looked at from her point of view, she says “comply like a normal person”; looked at from his, it’s “jump through a bunch of hoops that no one warned us about or else my wife will blame me for losing her job”

        I don’t think anyone is saying that the restrictions don’t make sense. I think a lot of people are pushing back on the idea that he should automatically be the one to concede (instead of her looking for a different job that doesn’t have these restrictions, like any of the jobs she had before).

        Personally, I think the right answer was suggested before:
        1) he should go ahead and declare his present portfolio
        2) he should hold off on any future trades for a bit
        3) they should have a serious discussion about whether this is the right job for her, now that they have new information about how it affects them both

        Reply
        1. Confused Teapot Maker

          +1 to this, especially a). Although there does some to be a theme in the comments of people not in finance going “That’s outrageous” and people in finance going “Uh, no, that’s the norm”, I think the big ‘surprise’ element which is causing the resistance is coming from this clearly being a new requirement for OP that hasn’t applied in any of their old jobs, particularly given that it wasn’t even a requirement when they started THIS job.

          Reply
  48. Anonforthis

    So, in the U.S., investment advisers are required to have a code of ethics which includes the monitoring the trade activity of “access persons” (including spouses or any other accounts over which the access person has control) to detect or prevent insider trading. This is Very Very common in the U.S. (There are similar rules for audit firms and recent activity by the SEC extended this to auditors – I worked for a firm that was recently impacted by this.)

    While it’s not normal outside the financial services industry, it is pretty much required if you are in it. The codes of ethics can vary as to what is covered and how employees are monitored, but usually you will direct questions to the CCO or the CCO’s office. If you or your spouse makes unauthorized trades, you usually get a warning or two, but can be fired. The SEC can (and will) take action against the company if they don’t address violations of the code.

    My husband and I are both in the industry and have had some weird issues come up because we have to comply with both his company code and mine. For example, my code required that outside brokerage accounts be held at one of six specific firms (not totally unusual, but not normal) and my husband’s company required that employees hold all securities at his firm which was not one the six allowed by my company. Basically, we couldn’t comply with BOTH codes. My husband got an exception from his CCO, but it was an interesting situation.

    However, for OP, it doesn’t sound like you have a good reason for an exception. But it might help if your husband knew they are unlikely to micromanage his trading. They probably have a watch list of certain securities. If he wants to engage in a transaction in one of those securities, then it might be denied or delayed. But if he is not trading in those securities, then he will usually get approval for the trade fairly quickly.

    Reply
  49. PowerUser

    The OP mentioned: “…I don’t have shareholdings, he has some under my name, as well as some under his own dating back to a time when he wasn’t tax-resident and I was.”

    This is literally why these restrictions apply to the immediate family, not just the employee. Performing transactions under a spouse or family member’s name is, very often, the first thing people do to try and skirt regulations. That’s why it’s taken so seriously. Hopefully this is easy for the OP’s spouse to understand with some reflection.

    (I know this is redundant to some of the other comments, but I wanted to point out the direct example of stated behavior by the OP’s spouse and insider trading / financial regulations.)

    Reply
  50. LizM

    I’m troubled by the fact that OP is having this conversation within earshot of her team and her manager.

    My husband and I both work in roles that limit the types of companies we can own stock in, and I have to disclose all investments and property held by my immediate family annually. Taking a position that limits the finances of a family member can’t be a unilateral decision, on either spouses’ part.

    But those negotiations need to stay within the marriage, all your workplace needs to know is whether you plan on complying with the policy. If her husband decides this is a hill to die on and absolutely refuses to comply, she can decide whether to leave the job or leave him. But I don’t think it’s there yet, it really sounds like he was initially shocked by the policy change, but is coming around and trying to make it work. If he agrees to a solution that’s in compliance with the policy, but OP suspects he won’t actually comply, she needs to have that conversation with a marriage therapist or an attorney.

    Even if she is in compliance with the policy, it reflects very poorly on her in the workplace if she’s airing this kind of dirty laundry and publicly threatening to quit her job to make a point to her husband.

    Reply
    1. LizM

      Just one more thought on how to discuss it with OP’s husband. I would go in with an understanding of industry norms. I work in government on fairly specialized policy roles. If my husband really wanted to invest in the industry I regulate, it would make it impossible for me to not only do my current job, but do most local, state, and federal government and consulting jobs in my field.

      So it may not be as simple as “leave this job,” it may be “leave this industry.” OP and her husband should factor that into their decision.

      Reply
  51. JeffRIP

    So, I’m Australian and am subject to these policies and I work in a role where I often know sensitive info ahead of others. As many have stated, it’s an insider trading issue, as well as a way to avoid conflict of interests with the firm. And they are right to have the policy and enforce it. Imagine if I go home to hubby at the end of the day and say ‘hey, we’ve just made a takeover bid for this other company, it’s going to be manic at work for a while’. Without the policy, hubby can run over to his computer and buy/sell shares, with that insider information. It’s less to do with the shared family financial info than it is to avoid the regulator coming after anyone later on down the line and saying ‘hey, the timing here is a little weird, please explain’ (Aussies, you know what I mean). Which I have seen happen with a staff member previously, because of the timing of their trade vs the timing of a significant contract negotiation. They had no prior knowledge of the negotiation but we had to PROVE it. Which takes time and emails and phone records and sucks big time for everyone who has to get involved. But we had a trading policy which included an approval process and the individual followed the rules, he received approval, and we had a timeline. While a scary regulator call and time and energy, it was something we could show to them and get clear. Now, imagine we didn’t have the policy, imagine he didn’t follow the policy…

    I get that the OP’s husband might be concerned about the onerous process to gain approval, but seriously any company putting out this restriction to specific people already HAS A TRADING POLICY. They aren’t that hard to find and certainly not hard to follow (forms tend to make up most of the approval process and then it’s just a day or so for whomever to approve the trade). Compliance can help. Your manager can help. Go and ask for help understanding and navigating the process.

    OP – it’s not asking permission. I understand your husband might baulk at that. They aren’t providing permission, they are ticking the box the regulator requires to ensure that you, he and your company have covered all of your arses. The company are not going to care about his trades for the most part, they just want the records if anything happens in the future. It’s perfectly normal in roles like this, in industries and companies like this. Though I get that it could be jarring if it’s the first time it’s come up.

    Good luck having the conversation.

    Reply
  52. sstabeler

    I can see both sides:
    OP’s side: “why would you make this a hill to die on when is would cost me my career” ( note that it sounds like his holdings are a hobby- regardless of how much of a hobby it is, is it really fair to insist a spouse give up a career which they enjoy so that you can pursue your hobby? it’d be kind of like asking (say) a top chef to give it up because you liked baking. ( I’m pointing out here that there is an imbalance in what OP’s husband is being asked to give up compared to what OP would need to give up)
    OP’s husband’s side: why do I need to get permission for my personal trading with my money?

    it should perhaps be clearer if it’s a situation where the company has a veto- in other words, if they don’t say anything, you can make the trade- or if it’s truly the company has to give permission ( if they don’t say yes, you can’t trade)- since the second si significantly more onerous.

    Reply
  53. Zip Silver

    I’m sympathetic to your husband, OP. While I likely wouldn’t ask you to quit your job, I’d be incredibly uneasy about my own company (much less my wife’s) having any sort of say in my investments beyond complying with insider trading rules.

    Contrary to what some other commenters have said, I wouldn’t leave your husband over this. No job is worth destroying a marriage. You work to live (which includes your married life), not live to work.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      having any sort of say in my investments beyond complying with insider trading rules.

      This is almost certainly what these rules are about.

      No job is worth destroying a marriage.

      That’s a pretty broad statement. And it’s not really the issue. The real question is whether she can have her career as long as he takes this attitude. Also, whether he’s going to go behind her back or not (on the theory that “what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her” and the belief that she probably doesn’t know what she’s talking about.)

      I’m not going to tell her to leave her marriage. But the issues are far more fundamental than THIS job.

      Reply
    2. a different Vicki

      If no job is worth destroying a marriage, then no hobby is either.

      As for the financial side of it, it’s flexibility with investments (rather than putting everything in one of the accepted securities) versus salary. $100,000 isn’t trivial, but the annual income from that, or profits from trading, are unlikely to be equal to the OP’s salary (even ignoring the possibility of losses). Some people live to work (including some scientists and artists); few if any live to play the stock market.

      I hope OP and her husband can come to a resolution that lets her keep her job, but if an argument in a relationship gets to the point of “do this or I’m leaving,” both people have dug in pretty thoroughly.

      Reply
      1. Brisvegan

        As a mid to high level professional in Australia, especially one working for a large international firm, OP will definitely be making more than AU$100,000 per year. As a mid-level academic, I earn more than that, and I would earn considerably more in private professional practice.

        Both Aussie wages and Aussie cost of living are higher than the US. The exchange rate is a shocker at the moment, so our dollar is only worth about 3/4 to 2/3 of yours at any given time through 2016 to early 2017.

        Reply
    3. KellyK

      I don’t think anyone’s really arguing that the job is worth destroying her marriage. It’s more that they were seeing potential red flags with the relationship itself. If she’s worrying that he’ll go behind her back and risk both her career and her freedom, that would be a serious problem with the marriage–whether because he really would do that or because she doesn’t trust him and is jumping to conclusions. Likewise, someone who insists that she give up her job for his stock-trading hobby may not have her best interests at heart. There’s also the question of her employability in that industry, depending on how common rules like this are, as well as how small it is and how quitting over this will look. It hasn’t come to that yet, but isolating her from her ability to make a living would certainly be a red flag.

      Basically, while no job is worth destroying a marriage, a good spouse won’t destroy your career either. Likewise, you might willingly step in front of a moving car for your spouse. But if they push you in front of one, the relationship is probably over.

      Reply
  54. micromanagedrat

    husband feels like trading stocks=more important than wife being on successful career trajectory. Because women’s careers don’t matter. At least that’s what all the sympathy for him sounds like.

    Reply
    1. automaticdoor

      “we could afford for me to lose my job” raised MAJOR hackles for me… it should not come down to her LOSING HER JOB over his HOBBY to comply with industry norms. Industry norms that, as a CPA, are standard anyway the higher she would progress in most companies. This makes me so mad. Really? You can’t deal with some paperwork to make sure your wife keeps progressing in her work?

      Reply
      1. automaticdoor

        And generally it’s not even paperwork, it’s an online system that is pretty easy and usually quick, based on my personal experience. Grrrrr.

        Reply
      2. CanCan

        I agree, “we could afford for me to lose my job” is a red flag.

        OP: please, please don’t think that you have to sacrifice your job (not even that – your whole career!) for your husband. No husband’s whims are worth that. You may want to give him a break because he has PTDS and other issues, but if it comes down to, “I don’t like these rules and I’m going to do what I want, and you can either risk losing your job and license or quit your job” – you might want to reconsider this marriage.

        Maybe you and he don’t need your income from this job. But a job is more than just about income. It’s about feeling good about yourself, feeling useful and respected, – which, as a professional, I’m sure you understand. Maybe what you meant is that you can afford to take a lower-paying job that won’t subject you to these rules?

        That said, you should not give him ultimatums either, especially not in public. Ultimatums are very hard to hear, and it’s very hard to respect a spouse who was disrespectful enough to give an ultimatum (even if the two options are truly the only possibilities). *I’m speaking from first-hand experience here.

        Sit down with him and have a chat. Reach a mutual understanding and a solution that works for both of you.

        Reply
        1. CanCan

          Even if you take a lower-paying job, these are laws, and they are likely to apply to other advanced positions, in any company. So if your husband refuses to follow these rules, you’d be stuck in low positions forever. Would you want that? Would you want to be in a relationship with somebody who required that of you?

          Reply
        2. Zahra

          Speaking from someone who has received ultimatums in the past (of the “if you don’t do X, I’ll leave you!”), I do not take them as seriously now (not that I receive them anymore). I sure feel resentment, though. And if ever I contemplated leaving my relationship, you can be sure it would be once I have all my ducks in a row and no amount of groveling and promising to change (or actual changes) would make me change my mind.

          The point is: ultimatums shut down discussions, for years to come.

          Reply
    2. Leatherwings

      That’s a ridiculously huge jump, and I haven’t seen anyone imply that. In fact, most of the 400 comments here either support the husband immediately trading the stocks to avoid legal trouble versus giving the husband a break and having a reasonable conversation about the thing.

      Reply
  55. Queen of Alpha

    Here is my perspective as a woman in finance and someone that lives with and complies with all of these regulations.

    She is a female working within an asset or investment management firm. Her husband enjoys day-trading but does not work due to disability. She has built a career and he is at home. He has a hobby that makes some money but statistics indicate he won’t be up any more than the S&P 500 would be on any given year unless he has found a specific niche to invest and play in.

    If the roles were reversed it would be no question that the wife would be expected to comply promptly and without pause. Why does the husband get to sit on and think about something that legally has very serious and lasting consequences for the wife AND husband in the long-run if they do not comply and are caught. This is what double standards for gender roles looks like.

    Is it really a valid answer that she needs to choose between work and her marriage? Should the husband decide to not comply with a regulation put in place to prevent fraud and unfair advantages to retail investors then he has made the decision for the wife, no? Anyone that has incurred the wrath of the SEC knows that it’s not a radar you want to be placed on. The wife, the husband, their extended network all come under scrutiny. They will walk into your homes and remove all electronics. Your personal cell phone is now theirs. Your email? Theirs. She would lose her ability to work in the industry and her career.

    Her CYA actions for making the call sound smart and I would wager he has burned her before and she is taking the right steps to protect herself. However, now that the manager is aware this issue is in place he/she will most definitely have hawk eyes on her to make sure there are no trips on compliance issues and if they aren’t confident in the spouse complying they will be sure to let her go to protect the firm. I’m afraid the OP effectively backed herself into a corner by her actions on the phone.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t think we have reason to think it’s gendered in this case. I’m a woman and I would be very concerned about having this sprung on me, and my answers here have been written with that scenario in mind.

      Reply
    2. animaniactoo

      Not between work and marriage, but potentially between this particular job and marriage. Because she apparently has had jobs before that don’t require this (since they’ve never had to do it before), so unless she’s working her way up a ladder that is always going to require this, there is also the option to go out and find another job which is still in her field but does not make her an access person.

      Fwiw, I’m a woman, and in charge of the majority of the financial stuff for our household and if my husband called me and told me that I had to change how I was handling finances because his job required it, yes, we would be having a conversation about whether or not the job was worth the hassle. No, compliance would not be automatic and without pause and anybody who told me it needed to be would be “invited” to take their hand off my wallet.

      Reply
  56. Tansy

    I’m very late on this, but OP, I’m an australian employment lawyer, and it does sound from the above that you could be sacked if your husband disobeys the policy and your employer finds out.

    Employees can be summarily dismissed (called summary dismissal and it’s without notice, without warning, and not subject to the ‘harsh, unreasonable, unfair” provisions of the Fair Work Act) for dishonesty (You can also be summarily dismissed for suspected criminal activity – such as insider trading). Employers aren’t held to the same standard of proof that courts are – if you told them it was your husband lying to you and you had no idea about his breach of the policy, they could choose not to believe you and sack you anyway.

    I don’t know much about fair trading, but would not recommend allowing the situation to go into a “what I don’t know about my husband’s finances won’t hurt me” state of play. It sounds like you don’t like that option anyway. Good luck, and if it comes to a head, there are firms that deal with both employment law and insider trading offences – might be best to seek out those. Your local law institute (eg. Legal Institute of Victoria, LIV) can recommend them to you.

    Reply
  57. LarsTheRealGirl

    I may be repeating but I didn’t see anyone specifically call this out:

    “I don’t have shareholdings, he has some under my name”

    You DO have shareholdings. You do. Legally, you do. They are in YOUR name.

    Please disavow yourself from the belief that you’re not responsible for your own holdings because your husband is the one managing them, immediately. Whether you pushed the button or initiated the transaction, it is in your name and legally yours. At some point you signed something and allowed him to buy it.

    “But I didn’t know I owned that” wouldn’t work in the US and I’m betting it won’t work in Australia either.

    Reply

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