Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) was passed by the SEC in 2019 and implemented in 2020. It essentially requires brokers to only recommend products to customers that are in their best interest. It also requires that brokers must inform clients of any potential conflicts of interest and financial benefits they may accrue.
Until recently, enforcement of Reg BI has been lacking, but this is clearly now changing as authorities are stepping up. The most recent incident is FINRA fining five broker-dealers for failing to comply with regulations including Reg BI and Form CRS.
These firms were cited for a lack of guardrails and protocols that would lead their registered brokers to adhere to Reg BI. Relatedly, these firms were also penalized for missing deadlines related to Form CRS and/or providing incomplete information. Form CRS is an overview of a broker’s services, fees, conflicts of interest, prior disciplinary action, and other information to increase transparency and minimize fraud risk.
The five firms did not admit or contest FINRA’s decision. Like previous Reg BI enforcement, the penalties and citations were minor. In contrast, the SEC has only filed one major Reg BI case, but it pursued much harsher penalties.
Finsum: Reg BI is a new regulation which mandates that broker-dealers must inform clients of any conflicts of interest and recommend products that are in their best interest. Recently, regulatory authorities are stepping up enforcement.