Wealth & Risk Management Blog

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’

SEC comments muddy the waters in fiduciary standard debate

Posted by William Byrnes on July 29, 2013


The debate over the fiduciary standard that will become applicable to many financial professionals may be coming to a head as the looming deadline for comments on SEC proposals has motivated some advisors to express disapproval over a perceived weakening of the potential standard. Because a heightened fiduciary standard could increase advisors’ compliance costs, while simultaneously increasing consumer confidence in the quality of their advice, it is critical that advisors know the rules of the game.

Recent indications that the SEC may deviate from its previously expressed intent to expand the traditional standard applicable to investment advisors, however, represent a curveball for advisors who are not currently subject to a strict fiduciary standard; the outcome once again seems up for grabs.

Today’s bifurcated approach to fiduciary regulation

read the full analysis at LifeHealthPro – http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2013/07/01/sec-comments-muddy-the-waters-in-fiduciary-standar

 

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SEC Warns Investors about Principal Protected Notes

Posted by William Byrnes on November 3, 2011


In a low-interest rate world, high-yield investments offering principal protection are enticing to investors. But the complexity of some high-end investment products has the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) warning investors to look before they leap.

In an alert titled Structured Notes with Principal Protection: Note the Terms of Your Investment, the regulators warn investors that these structured products may not be what they seem. Although they are marketed under a variety of names with a “principal protection” component—e.g. “absolute return” and “minimum return”—the true extent of their safety is never obvious . Investors need to read the fine print to decide whether they are suitable for their investing needs and risk tolerance.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

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FINRA Puts Disciplinary Histories on Web

Posted by William Byrnes on September 29, 2011


Disciplinary histories are becoming easier to access. Brokers’ disciplinary histories are now prominently displayed for the web savvy public; they’re no longer filed away at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), where only the most diligent investors will find them. FINRA has made your disciplinary history freely and easily available to the public by launching a web-accessible discipline database.

Whether the easy accessibility of the information is a  beneficial will depend on a broker’s history. Those with a clean record will undoubtedly benefit from the easy accessibility of the information and the ease with which clients and prospects can search their record and compare it to others. Those with a negative history, whether deserved or not, may now find themselves on the defensive with prospects more often.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of FINRA complaint and disciplinary procedure in Advisor’s Journal, see FINRA Rule 45-30: Expansive New Complaint Report Requirements (CC 11-96) & Broker Bonus Arbitration Bottleneck Forces FINRA to Reconsider Arbitrator Qualification Standards (CC 11-08).

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SEC Softening its Stance on Private Placements

Posted by William Byrnes on September 26, 2011


The Obama Administration’s 2012 federal budget proposal has revived two budget proposals that recent scandals have directed a slew of regulatory attention on private placement. Considering examinations of private placements recently being characterized by a FINRA executive as a “major, major initiative, it would seem strange for the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to consider relaxing rules for marketing private placements.

Nevertheless, that’s exactly what SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro told members of Congress the agency is planning.

Speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Shapiro said that the SEC is going to “take a fresh look” at rules relating to private placements and other securities offerings, both public and private. Specifically, she said that the agency will reconsider the private placement public marketing ban and the 500-investor threshold that categorizes a company as “public.”

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of private placements in Advisor’s Journal, see Private Placements Becoming Much Riskier for Firms (CC 11-78) and Private Placements Becoming Much Riskier for Firms (CC 11-78).

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Dodd-Frank Whistleblowing—Rewarding the Robbers?

Posted by William Byrnes on September 13, 2011


Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower provisions may be more effective than originally anticipated, but will they lead to increased corporate compliance?

The whistle blower rules have received cristicism from some who believe the procedures will hinder compliance procedures rather than improve them. The liberal Whistleblower provisions have also raised concerns about the already overcommitted SEC being overwhelmed by frivolous claims by employees who view the program as a lottery with multi-million dollar payouts.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of Dodd-Frank updates in Advisor’s Journal, see Is Barney Frank’s Resolve to Implement Dodd-Frank Weakening? (CC 11-95).

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FINRA Changes the Rules on How Low-Price Equities Are Traded

Posted by William Byrnes on September 7, 2011


The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has issued a regulatory notice addressing price volatility concerns associated with low-priced equity securities in customer margin and firm proprietary accounts. The notice advises that special attention be given to low-priced equity securities; price volatility is usually associated with low-priced equities because they are inherently volatile.

But what does FINRA consider a“low-price equity,” and what is the impact for you and your clients?

FINRA advises firms to weigh the risks that come with low-priced equity securities before extending credit in strategy-based or portfolio margin accounts. FINRA cautions firms to consider “volatility and concentrated positions in a single customer account and across all customer accounts, as well as the daily volume and market capitalization of each security when imposing ‘house’ maintenance margin requirements.”

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of FINRA-issued guidance in Advisor’s Journal, see Getting Your Feet Wet in the Social Media Market (CC 11-79) & SEC Says “Not So Fast” to Advisor Social Media Marketing (CC 11-40).

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FINRA Rule 45-30: Expansive new Complaint Report Requirements

Posted by William Byrnes on September 2, 2011


FINRA is digging deep into your customer comment box, and starting July 21, nothing will be off limits to the regulator.

Brokerages often expand beyond securities activities to diversify their income streams and broaden the scope of services they offer their clients. Keeping up with the assorted regulators and what are often cumbersome and confusing combinations of rules has always been a chore for those firms.

Not long ago, firms at least have been able to keep their professions separated, dealing, for instance, with securities and insurance regulators as isolated entities with little overlap in their bailiwicks. But increasingly, regulators like FINRA are erasing this dichotomy, peaking into all of a firm’s activities, even activities that are unrelated to the subject of the regulator’s jurisdiction.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of FINRA rulemaking in Advisor’s Journal, see FINRA Plans New Power Grab as SEC Falter (CC 11-67), Broker Bonus Arbitration Bottleneck Forces FINRA to Reconsider Arbitrator Qualification Standards (CC 11-08), and SEC Approves FINRA Suitability and Know-Your-Customer Rules (CC 11-17).

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SEC Okays CFP Board’s Request to Dig into Applicants’ Backgrounds

Posted by William Byrnes on August 24, 2011


Cerftified Financial Planners (“CFPs”) and CFP applicants can longer hide their discplinary history behind the shield of client confidentiality. At the request of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a no action letter that gives brokers and advisors unlimited discretion to share customer complaint information with the Board without fear of reprisal from the SEC. The no action letter eradicates advisors’ ability to assert client confidentiality as a justification for not disclosing customer complaint information to the CFP, giving the Board free-reign to scour members’ backgrounds.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber)

For previous coverage of the financial planning industry in Advisor’s Journal, see Wall Street Reform Act Mandates Study of Financial Planning Industry (CC 10-73).

For in-depth analysis of financial planning concepts, see Advisor’s Main Library: A – The Need For Financial Planning.

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SEC Okays CFP Board’s Request to Dig into Applicants’ Backgrounds

Posted by William Byrnes on August 22, 2011


The dynamics of the confidentiality is enduring change. Certified Financial Planners (“CFPs”) and CFP applicants can no longer hide their disciplinary histories from the CFP Board under the shield of client confidentiality. At the request of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (“CFP Board”), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a no action letter that gives brokers and advisors the  to share customer complaint information with the Board without fear of reprisal from the SEC. The no action letter removes advisors’ ability to maintain client confidentiality as a justification for not disclosing customer complaint information to the CFP, giving the Board free-reign to scour members’ backgrounds.

What impact will this heightened need for disclosure have on the advisor- client relationship?

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber)

For previous coverage of the financial planning industry in Advisor’s Journal, see Wall Street Reform Act Mandates Study of Financial Planning Industry (CC 10-73).

For in-depth analysis of financial planning concepts, see Advisor’s Main Library: A – The Need For Financial Planning.

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Private Placements Becoming Much Riskier for Firms

Posted by William Byrnes on August 14, 2011


There may be an increased need for caution when offering the newest private placements to clients. FINRA and the SEC are actively examining private placements and the firms that sell them. And if the regulators believe that something is amiss, they won’t hesitate to impose severe fines on everyone involved in the sale. As part of its ongoing sweep of firms that sold interests in failed private placements, FINRA has issued sanctions against two firms and seven individual principals of those firms. FINRA accuses them of causing significant investor losses by failing to conduct a reasonable investigation before offering the private placements for sale to investors.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber)

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FINRA Plans New Power Grab as SEC Falters

Posted by William Byrnes on August 2, 2011


FINRA is continuing its recent power-grab in the face of a largely impotent and underfunded Securities and Exchange Commission. As the next stage in an increasing series of regulations and information reporting requirements, plans are in the works for a new-and-improved examination program that could further increase the information reporting requirements of member firms and significantly increase their compliance burden.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of FINRA regulatory action in Advisor’s Journal, see Broker Bonus Arbitration Bottleneck Forces FINRA to Reconsider Arbitrator Qualification Standards (CC 11-08),  SEC Approves FINRA Suitability and Know-Your-Customer Rules (CC 11-17), & New FINRA Rule Restricts Brokers’ Outside Business Activities (CC 10-110).

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Are Portfolios-to-Go Threatening Full-Service Brokerage and Advisory Firms?

Posted by William Byrnes on April 27, 2011


A growing number of consumers are opting for pre-packaged, low-cost portfolio managers. Portfolio-to-go companies can, at least nominally, provide many of the same services as full-service brokerage firms, since the companies are registered as either investment advisors or broker-dealers. And minimal overhead and services allow them to offer those services without the “high” price tag at brick-and-mortar institutions.

Portfolios-to-go have exploded in popularity recently, bringing in over $3 billion in assets over the past three years.  Read this two-page article by linking to AdvisorOne – a National Underwriters Summit Business open-access original content wealth management news portal.

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Beware Private Placements: Lessons From MedCap, Provident and DBSI

Posted by William Byrnes on April 26, 2011


FINRA and the SEC are actively examining private placements and the firms that sell them. If the regulators believe that something is amiss, they won’t hesitate to impose severe fines on everyone involved in the sale.

FINRA has issued sanctions against two firms and seven individual principals of those firms.  FINRA accuses them of causing significant investor losses by failing to conduct a reasonable investigation before offering the private placements for sale to investors.

Read this two-page article by linking to AdvisorOne – a National Underwriters Summit Business open-access original content wealth management news portal.

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SEC Says “Not so Fast” to Advisor Social Media marketing

Posted by William Byrnes on April 11, 2011


Social media marketing is quickly becoming many industries’ go-to medium for low-cost, high-yield advertising, but the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may be saying “no so fast” to investment advisors.  But the SEC isn’t just asking for general information about advisors’ use of social media. Advisors are also being asked to provide a copy of “communications” made by the advisor on social media sites, including the text of postings, tweets and other messages sent by the firm.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of SEC initiatives and rulemaking in Advisor’s Journal, see SEC Waffles in Study on Improving RIA Oversight (CC 11-24)Advisors Hit with Another Round of SEC Reporting Rules (CC 11-30)SEC Approves FINRA Suitability and Know-Your-Customer Rules (CC 11-17).

For marketing tips, see the “Soft Skills” segment of Advanced Markets AdvisorFX: The 7 Deadly Sins of Chief Marketing OfficersTo the Moon, Alice!—How to Market Even Though People Are Fed Up with Marketing, & Marketing to the Millennials.

 

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SEC Unprepared to Implement the Fiduciary Standard for Broker-Dealers

Posted by William Byrnes on March 28, 2011


Broker-dealers will be subject to a fiduciary standard of care no earlier than the second half of 2012, predicts Richard Ketchum, Chairman and CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  Mr. Ketchum’s remarks come a week after SEC chairman Mary Schapiro said that the SEC has “a lot of work to do” before putting “pen to paper” and writing the fiduciary standard rules.

Causes of the delay were hinted at by a pair of reports issued by the SEC last month, one of which concluded that broker-dealers and registered investment advisers (“RIA”) should be subject to the same fiduciary standard of care. The other report provided recommendations for improving the examination of investment advisors, concluding that a Self-Regulatory Organization (“SRO”) should be appointed to conduct examinations of investment advisors. An SRO is a private organization that is granted some regulatory authority over a particular industry. SROs are typically funded by member user fees.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the fiduciary standard in Advisor’s Journal, see SEC Fiduciary Standard Study Answers Few Questions (CC 11-25)Study Finds that Universal Fiduciary Standard Will Hurt Investors (CC 10-97) and What You Don’t Know Yet Might Hurt You: A Broker’s Duties under the Financial Reform Act (CC 10 40)

Your questions and comments are always welcome. Please post them below or call the Panel of Experts.

 

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Advisors Hit with Another Round of SEC Reporting Rules

Posted by William Byrnes on March 21, 2011


Do small- to medium-sized advisors represent a threat to the systemic integrity of the worldwide financial system? Probably not, but you’d think so based on the flood of advisor regulations flowing out of Washington.

The Dodd-Frank compliance maze expanded again last week as the SEC commissioners voted unanimously to release proposed reporting requirements that will complicate the compliance landscape for many advisors. Although affected advisors are not among the largest advisors overseen by the SEC, they are nevertheless categorized by the Commission as large enough to represent a systemic threat warranting increased SEC attention.

And while the SEC has assured affected advisors that their proprietary trading strategies won’t become part of the public record, recent events like the Wikileaks private banking releases should spook advisors.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of recent SEC rulemaking activity in Advisor’s Journal, see SEC’s Plain English Requirement Equals Expensive Client Disclosures(CC 10-44) and SEC Approves FINRA Suitability and Know-Your-Customer Rules (CC 11-17).

 

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Merrill Lynch Busted by SEC for Tailgating Client Trades

Posted by William Byrnes on March 16, 2011


Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay a $10 million penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle charges that Merrill used information about customer trades to trade on its own behalf—in violation of its customers’ confidences.

According to the SEC, Merrill Lynch operated a proprietary trading desk—its “Equity Strategy Desk” (ESD)—from 2003 to 2005. The desk traded solely on the firm’s account and did not have any responsibility for customer orders.

The SEC says that, although Merrill represented to customers that their trading information would be kept on a need-to-know basis, the ESD had access to and used institutional customers’ information when executing trades on Merrill’s behalf.

The activity that resulted in the SEC investigation is known as “tailgating”—related to the illegal act of “front running.” Front running is the practice of executing proprietary trades using information about pending customer trades to the broker’s advantage. Tailgating is similar to front running, except that the broker executes its own trade after executing the related customer trades.

Read the full analysis at AdvisorFX – sign up for a no obligation free subscription to all the services including AUS, ASRS, the Journal, Presentation Aids, Soft Skills. amongst others.

 

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SEC Fiduciary Standard Study Answers Few Questions

Posted by William Byrnes on March 13, 2011


The SEC has finally released its anxiously awaited study of whether a fiduciary standard of care should be applied to broker-dealers; but, like the study on adviser examinations, the report leaves as many questions as it answers. The fiduciary standard study recommends that brokers be held to the same standard as register investment advisers (RIAs).  Although the study doesn’t provide details on how the switch to the fiduciary standard will be implemented, there are hints as to what brokers can expect.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the fiduciary standard in Advisor’s Journal, see Study Finds that Universal Fiduciary Standard Will Hurt Investors (CC 10-97) and What You Don’t Know Yet Might Hurt You: A Broker’s Duties under the Financial Reform Act (CC 10 40).  Comments are welcome below.

 

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SEC Waffles in Study on Improving RIA Oversight

Posted by William Byrnes on March 11, 2011


The SEC has finally released its Dodd-Frank mandated study on enhancing registered investment adviser (RIA) examinations, but the study is more a tale of SEC budgetary distress than a concrete plan to improve examinations. Although the study hints at the regulatory framework that is likely to emerge for RIAs in the coming months, it doesn’t conclude with a definitive solution to the problem. Although the study does not conclude with a specific plan for improving adviser examinations, the scope of the RIA examination problem and the funding problems revealed make it clear that change is coming for RIAs—change likely to be paid for by increased user fees.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

 

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Life Settlement Provider Accused of Falsifying Life Span Reports

Posted by William Byrnes on March 10, 2011


One of the U.S.’s oldest life settlement companies, publically traded Life Partners Holdings, Inc., is being investigated by the SEC for falsifying life span reports used to sell the company’s life settlement products.  Falsified life spans can leave investors on the hook for additional premiums over the insureds’ remaining years when insureds outlive the firm’s life-span estimates.

The question for Life Partners Holdings shareholders and customers is whether the Life Partners investigation will go the way of Mutual Benefits Corp, a life settlement company that sold fractional interests in life insurance policies. Mutual Benefits was the subject of a similar SEC investigation concerning falsified life expectancies that ultimately led to the company’s collapse.  Could Life Partners be next?

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

 

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SEC Approves FINRA Suitability and Know-Your-Customer Rules

Posted by William Byrnes on February 26, 2011


The SEC recently approved FINRA proposed rules—FINRA Rules 2090 and 2011—that amend and consolidate know-your-customer and suitability obligations for broker-dealers and their authorized representatives.  The new rules are based on, and replace in-part, similar NYSE and NASD rules. According to FINRA, the amended know-your-customer and suitability rules are intended to protect investors by “promoting fair dealing with customers and ethical sales practices.”

The new rules are effective as of October 7, 2011.  For previous coverage of the suitability standard and the debate over the proposed fiduciary standard in Advisor’s Journal, see What You Don’t Know Yet Might Hurt You: A Broker’s Duties under the Financial Reform Act (CC 10-40) and Study Finds that Universal Fiduciary Standard Will Hurt Investors (CC 10-97).

Under the know-your-customer rule, firms are required to use reasonable diligence respecting the opening and maintenance of every account and to know essential facts about every customer. “Essential facts” are facts required to …. Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

 

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Dodd-Frank Aftermath: CFTC Rule Making Process Stalls

Posted by William Byrnes on February 23, 2011


Despite Congress’s best efforts after the recent economic meltdown, a cadre of Wall Street’s biggest banks still dominates the derivatives markets, leaving some observers wondering whether the transparency the Act was supposed to bring was just a well-intentioned but overly optimistic dream.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act (Act) gave the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) extensive new authority over participants in the derivatives and swaps markets. But the transparency and equity many hoped the Act would bring to the markets is bottlenecked in the agencies charged with implementing the legislation.

The CFTC was scheduled to consider conflict of interest rules for swap execution facilities, derivatives clearing organizations and designated contract markets at their January 13, 2011 meeting, but disagreement about the scope of the rules resulted in the items being nixed from consideration at the meeting.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the Dodd-Frank Act in Advisor’s Journal, see Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (CC 10-35) and Wall Street Reform Act Mandates Study of Financial Planning Industry (CC 10-73).

 

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New Dodd-Frank Study Calls for Stringent Standards

Posted by William Byrnes on February 21, 2011


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) submitted to Congress a staff study recommending a uniform fiduciary standard of conduct for broker-dealers and investment advisers — no less stringent than currently applied to investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940– when those financial professionals provide personalized investment advice about securities to retail investors.

Section 913 of Title IX of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 required SEC to conduct a study to evaluate:

  • The effectiveness of existing legal or regulatory standards of care (imposed by current authorities) for providing personalized investment advice and recommendations about securities to retail customers; and
  • Whether there are legal or regulatory gaps, shortcomings, or overlaps in legal or regulatory standards in the protection of retail customers relating to the standards of care for providing personalized investment advice about securities to such customers that should be addressed by rule or statute.

In the study, the SEC notes that investment advisers and broker-dealers are regulated extensively under different regulatory regimes.  But, the study claims, many retail investors do not understand and are confused by the roles played by investment advisers and broker-dealers.  The study finds that “many investors are also confused by the standards of care that apply to investment advisers and broker-dealers” when providing personalized investment advice about securities.  Read the analysis at http://www.advisorfyi.com/2011/01/new-dodd-frank-study-calls-for-stringent-standards/

 

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Broker Bonus Arbitration Bottleneck Forces FINRA to Reconsider Arbitrator Qualification Standards

Posted by William Byrnes on February 7, 2011


Brokerages are increasingly looking to claw back signing bonuses from bonus baby brokers who leave for another firm. Signing bonuses at the big broker-dealers saw a big jump in 2008, just as the economy took a dive. Signing bonuses of up to $3 million were being offered to brokers who generated $1 million in commissions and fees in the prior year. And a few bonuses paid at Wall Street firms were reported to have been as high as $10 million. But because many of the bonuses were based on the prior year’s inflated numbers, brokerage firms ended up paying too much for too little performance during an economic slowdown.

Now a bottleneck is developing in arbitration cases dealing with brokers’ signing bonuses, forcing FINRA to reduce the qualifications for persons serving as arbitrators in order to expand its rolls and push the cases through the system. About 1,100 bonus cases have been filed by brokerages as of December 12, compared to just 415 cases in 2008. About 17 percent of 2010 FINRA arbitration cases were bonus-related cases.  Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of broker and securities arbitration in Advisor’s Journal, see FINRA Proposes Eliminating Industry Insiders from Arbitration Panels (CC 10-80) and Mandatory Securities Arbitration Clauses on the Chopping Block (CC 10-48).

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FINRA Positions Itself to Oversee Advisers

Posted by William Byrnes on December 8, 2010


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Buzz about the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) taking responsibility for regulation of investment advisers has been circulating for a couple of years now—but the talk is suddenly sounding less like gossip and a lot more like a plan. Last week, FINRA’s chief executive, Richard Ketchum, sent a letter to the SEC touting the benefits of appointing a self-regulatory organization (SRO) to oversee advisors. Although Ketchum’s letter does not directly ask the SEC to cede some of its regulatory authority over advisers to FINRA, hints abound.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed earlier this year, mandates an SEC study of its investment advisor examinations and whether delegation of advisor regulation to an SRO would improve examinations.  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of FINRA in Advisor’s Journal, see FINRA Proposes Eliminating Industry Insiders from Arbitration Panels (CC 10-80).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them below, or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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Study Finds that Universal Fiduciary Standard Will Hurt Investors

Posted by William Byrnes on December 6, 2010


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The Wall Street Reform Act1—signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010— grants the SEC the power to impose a fiduciary duty on broker-dealers. Although the SEC has not yet moved to apply the fiduciary standard—already applicable to registered investment advisors—to broker-dealers, both sides of the argument have made their voices heard, commissioning studies and sending volleys of comments to the SEC.

Holding broker-dealers to a higher standard would seem, at first glance, to be a positive for their customers.  But a November 1, 2010, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) commissioned study calls into question whether applying a fiduciary standard of conduct to all brokerage activities would help investors.  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the fiduciary standard of conduct in Advisor’s Journal, see What You Don’t Know Yet Might Hurt You: A Broker’s Duties under the Financial Reform Act (CC 10 40).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them below or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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