Displaying items by tag: regulations

The IMF estimates that the private credit industry is now over $2 trillion in size, with 75% of it located in the US. It now rivals the leveraged loan and high-yield credit markets in size. Private credit offers borrowers more speed and flexibility and provides higher returns and less volatility to investors. 

While the advantages are clear, the IMF warns that as lending moves away from regulated financial institutions to private markets, systemic risks will increase. With private credit, there is less transparency, price discovery, and information about credit quality. Additionally, there is less information about how various players in the ecosystem are connected. Therefore, the IMF doesn’t see near-term risks but believes that as private credit keeps growing, there will be a need for greater regulation. 

On average, private credit borrowers tend to be smaller and have weaker balance sheets than companies raising money through syndicated loans or public markets. This means more downside risk in the event of rising rates or a negative economic shock. 

Currently, the IMF estimates that ⅓ of private credit borrowers’ financing costs are higher than earnings. It also warns that lending standards have weakened amid increased competition among lenders due to the influx of capital in the sector. 

Finsum: The private credit industry has experienced rapid growth over the last few years and now rivals the size of the high-yield credit and leveraged loan markets. Here’s why the IMF is concerned that continued growth could lead to systemic risks to financial stability.

Published in Alternatives

There is a subtle distinction between fee-based and fee-only advisors. Fee-only advisors exclusively offer financial advice but don’t sell any products with commissions. Fee-based advisors also mainly offer financial advice, but they may also sell other non-investment products with commissions, like insurance. This means that they cannot market themselves as being ‘fee-only’. 

Many advisors are moving to these models due to their simplicity, while there has been an increase in regulations around the fiduciary standard. In fact, the industry as a whole is seeing fewer broker-dealer accounts and growth in investment-advisory accounts. As a result, many products can now be bought in investment-advisory accounts without a commission, such as annuities and alternative investments. 

An important consideration for an advisor going independent is responsibility for compliance. This requires registering with the state regulator or the SEC if there are more than $100 million in assets. It also means responding to regulatory inquiries, developing a compliance program, and having a system to ensure compliance. 

This additional burden highlights the challenge of running an independent shop. Another is that there is less time for clients, especially during the initial stages. Even afterwards, the additional responsibilities will lead to less time and energy for client service, prospecting, marketing, etc. By choosing a fee-only or fee-based model, advisors can have less of a regulatory burden.

Finsum: Many advisors are moving towards a fee-only or fee-based model. The biggest reason is that it simplifies and reduces the compliance demands for advisors.


Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 15 March 2024 04:08

Gasoline Prices Expected to Rise

Lower energy prices have provided some relief for consumers over the last few months. However, this could be changing with demand set to increase as we enter the start of driving season which is due to be exacerbated by refinery outages in many parts of the country.


Over the last month, gasoline prices are about 5% higher but still slightly down relative to last year at this point. Higher energy prices negatively impact consumer confidence and discretionary spending but also feed into inflationary pressures. In last month’s CPI report, higher energy prices was a major factor in the hotter than expected readings. Additionally, they have political implications given elections in November.


According to analysts, the situation is likely to get worse before its gets better. Gasoline inventories are lower than normal, following a 5.7 million barrels decline last week, and are now 3% below their average levels for this time of the year. Inventories could continue to be drained as refineries have been running below 87% capacity for the last 8 weeks. Adding to these issues is recent drone strikes on Russian refineries by Ukraine.

Finsum: Gasoline prices have been rising due to refinery issues. The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better as we enter summer driving season, and inventories have been drawn down more than expected. 

Published in Eq: Energy
Friday, 29 September 2023 13:09

Brokerages Still Struggling With Reg BI Compliance

A little more than 3 years ago, the SEC strengthened fiduciary rules with the passage of Reg BI, and this was also adopted by FINRA. According to a recent report from state regulators, brokerages are still struggling to comply with these new regulations.

In essence, Reg BI ensures that any recommendations made by a broker have to be offered impartially along with an explanation of any alternatives. The purpose of these rules is to ensure that there is no conflict between a broker and the client without necessarily imposing the full fiduciary obligation of RIAs. 

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) reviewed broker compliance efforts and found middling results especially given that 3 years have passed. Additionally, the SEC and FINRA have stepped up enforcement efforts this year.  According to the group, there remains room for improvement especially as many brokers remain uncertain about the rule and its application to products like annuities, leveraged products, private placements, or other alternative investment products. 

Many firms are creating their own protocols regarding compliance and spending more time on understanding their clients’ risk tolerance and goals before providing recommendations. However, the group also found that many brokerages are too lax especially when it comes to providing disclosures and alternative recommendations. 

FinSum: The North American Securities Administrators Association conducted an audit of brokerage to see how Reg BI compliance efforts are going. 


Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 16 May 2023 08:06

FINRA Boots SW Financial, Cites Reg BI

In an article for FinancialPlanning, Dan Shaw covered FINRA expelling SW Financial of Melville, NY for a variety of violations of industry rules. FINRA cited the firm selling private placement IPOs that were unsuitable for some of its customers. This is a violation of Reg BI, where brokers can only sell private shares to wealthy or accredited investors. 

As of April 2023, SW Financial had 38 representatives, 4 branches, and had been operating since 2007. SW Financial’s co-owner and CEO Thomas Diamante was suspended from the financial industry for 9 months and fined $50,000. Diamante and SW Financial agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying guilt. 

FINRA also said that the firm notified clients that it was receiving a 10% commission on the private placement but not that it would be getting an additional 5% in selling compensation. This is another violation of industry rules, where 10% is the most commission that can be earned. 

In total, the firm received about $2 million in compensation that created a ‘conflict of interest’ for the firm and its clients. They were also cited for a failure to conduct proper due diligence.

Finsum: FINRA expelled SW Financial for failing to follow Reg BI and churning customer accounts. 


Published in Wealth Management
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