Articles Tagged with Dodd-Frank

A number of state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit against the SEC, seeking to overturn the SEC’s recently adopted Regulation Best Interest or “Reg BI.” This not unexpected move comes in the wake of simmering discontent which has built up against Reg BI ever since its adoption on June 5th. In a nutshell, consumer advocate groups, state regulators and some high-ranking SEC officials all oppose Reg BI on the grounds that it doesn’t go far enough in imposing a more rigorous standard of conduct on broker-dealer firms. This lawsuit, filed in New York federal district court, ramps-up this disagreement considerably.

Reg BI, which this blog has discussed in some detail recently, is part of a comprehensive package of new rules and interpretations released by the SEC on June 5th. Specifically, the long-awaited Reg BI replaces the prevailing “suitability” standard of conduct applicable to broker-dealers and their registered representatives with a new “best interest obligation.” While under suitability, broker-dealers were only required to ensure that that their recommendations were “suitable” in light of a customer’s investment objectives and risk tolerance, the new best interest obligation requires that a broker-dealer always act in a customer’s “best interest.” Additionally, under Reg BI, the broker-dealer cannot place its interests ahead of a customer’s interests. Continue reading

Following its publication of a Risk Alert in late 2017 detailing findings from examinations of municipal advisers, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) continues to examine municipal advisers in 2018.  In 2014, OCIE established the Municipal Advisor Examination Initiative to perform an examination on municipal advisers who recently registered for the first time.  OCIE performed over 110 examinations in the course of the Initiative and found that many municipal advisers did not have adequate knowledge of regulatory requirements for municipal advisers.  As a result, many municipal advisers were found not to be in adequate compliance with regulatory requirements pertaining to registration, recordkeeping, and supervision.  OCIE hoped that in publishing the 2017 Risk Alert, municipal advisers will be compelled to evaluate their policies and procedures to find possible areas for improvement.

Municipal advisers are obligated to register with the SEC pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”).  The SEC established its municipal adviser registration rules in September 2013, and the rules became effective in July 2014.  The Dodd-Frank Act also established the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”), which exercises regulatory authority over municipal advisers.  OCIE’s examinations of municipal advisers covered “compliance with regulatory obligations including registration, statutory fiduciary standard of care, fair dealing, recordkeeping, and supervision, among other things.”  OCIE discovered that the most common deficiencies among municipal advisers related to registration, books and records, and supervision requirements. Continue reading

Pursuant to an order entered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on June 14, 2016, the exemption contained under Rule 205-3 of the Investment Advisers Act (“Advisers Act”), which allows registered investment advisers to charge performance-based compensation to clients notwithstanding the general prohibition against same contained in Section 205(a)(1) of the Advisers Act, will be slightly modified.  This modification is the result of a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act (“Dodd Frank”) implementing a provision of that act under Rule 205-3, which requires the SEC to adjust the dollar amounts contained in the exemption for inflation and to round the adjustment to the nearest $100,000.00.  This adjustment must occur every five years.

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Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) must review the definition of “accredited investor” every four years to determine whether it needs to be modified or adjusted. The SEC staff recently conducted its first review and issued a Report on the Review of the Definition of “Accredited Investor.”

The report provides an in-depth examination of the history of the “accredited investor” definition and discusses possible alternative approaches. The report also responds to comments on the existing definition received from various financial services industry participants, including the Investor Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. Lastly, the report provides recommendations for potential updates and/or modifications to the existing definition.

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During the January 7th Practising Law Institute conference on Hedge Fund Compliance and Regulatory Challenges, the Director of the SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”), Andrew Bowden, previewed some of the new priorities on which the SEC will focus in 2015. Some of the areas of focus include protecting investors, specifically those in or close to retirement, cyber security, and the use of data analytics to identify potential wrongdoers. One of the other priorities discussed was OCIE’s new initiative to use “presence exams” to examine certain investment advisers that have never been examined. Investment advisers who have been registered with the SEC for three or more years will potentially be selected for a presence exam.

Presence exams are less intensive, shorter exams, taking up about two-thirds the time of a regular SEC examination. These exams tend to be more narrow in scope and focus on specific areas of concern that the SEC may have. In October 2012, SEC staff created presence exams for investment advisers who were required to register with the SEC for the first time because of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”). These newly required SEC registrants under Dodd-Frank included, for example, hedge fund advisers with more than $150 million in assets under management. Bowden stated that the SEC performed close to 400 of these exams and that OCIE’s goal to examine 25% of the investment advisers required to register with the SEC under Dodd-Frank by 2014 was met.
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The Financial Services Institute (FSI) Chair, Joe Russo, recently released a letter stating that the FSI supports the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as the new self-regulatory organization (SRO) for investment advisers. Russo stated that the FSI has conducted two polls of its financial adviser members to determine whether they support FINRA as the SRO and 75% agreed that FINRA should become the SRO.

FSI has been asked by a number of critics why it has not advocated repealing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In response, FSI says that the act will likely not be repealed as a practical matter. Therefore, FSI has decided to focus its legislative efforts on securing for its members the least intrusive of the three options for investment adviser regulation posed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Those options are (1) the SEC charging user fees to fund more examiners, (2) FINRA becoming the dual SRO for broker-dealers and investment advisers, or (3) creating a new SRO.
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As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan investigative agency of Congress, conducted a study which criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The purpose of the study was to determine how the SEC has conducted its oversight of FINRA, including the effectiveness of FINRA rules, and how the SEC plans to enhance its oversight.

The GAO found that both the SEC and FINRA do not conduct retrospective reviews of the impact of FINRA’s rules. As a result, the GAO believes that “FINRA may be missing an opportunity to systematically assess whether its rules are achieving their intended purpose and take appropriate action, such as maintaining rules that are effective and modifying or repealing rules that are ineffective or burdensome.” The GAO also noted that the SEC does not conduct sufficient oversight over FINRA’s governance and executive compensation. The SEC has responded to the survey by saying that it is focused primarily on oversight of FINRA’s regulatory departments, which the SEC claims has the biggest impact on investors.
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Two states have created a time-table to help mid-sized firms make the switch from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) supervision to state regulated supervision. As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection (Dodd-Frank) Act, those investment advisers with $100 million or less but more than $25 million in assets under management will be required to register with the state or states in which they do business instead of the SEC. We have already discussed the switch in Mid-Sized Advisers Should Have Already Commenced Transition. Both Iowa and Missouri are helping mid-sized firms in their state by creating time-tables and providing guidance for the transition.
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As a result of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), mid-sized firms of less than $100 million in assets under management should make the switch from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversight to state regulatory oversight. Most advisers know that under the newly adopted SEC rules, mid-sized advisers that were SEC registered prior to Dodd-Frank must remain SEC registered through the first quarter of 2012, and then complete their switch to state regulation by June 28, 2012. Firms wishing to switch should have already completed the state registration process to become effective in the state or states in which the adviser is registering.

It was estimated by this time that 3,200 firms would have made the switch to state regulation. However, spokesman John Nester for the SEC announced that as of April 5, a little more than 1,900 firms claimed that they were no longer eligible for SEC registration and needed to make the switch.
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With the passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will be required to create a number of new rules, in addition to the rules already required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act).

The first deadline that the SEC faces under the JOBS Act is adopting rules eliminating the ban on general solicitation of certain private offerings. It will have 90 days to revise Rule 506 of Regulation D to allow those securities to be sold using general solicitation or advertising when all of the purchasers of the securities are “accredited investors.”

The JOBS Act also created a new crowdfunding exemption to registration. The SEC will have 270 days to adopt the rules and regulations effectuating this exemption, as the SEC determines to be necessary or appropriate for the protection of investors. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority may also adopt rules regulating “funding portals” for issuers.
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