FINRA and SEC regulators have increased enforcement and oversight of Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI). Recent focus has been on increasing compliance within the sales process. There have been several FINRA actions to punish firms for improper supervision to ensure the fiduciary standard is being followed.
The pace of these actions and enforcement has gradually picked up since the moratorium on enforcement ended. Further, regulators have also made public comments emphasizing the need for more aggressive action.
In 2023, there were FINRA enforcements following only 8 in 2022. The agency has also started to impose personal fines for sales violations or requiring advisors to pay back a portion of losses. Prior, regulatory agencies would see compensation and damages from the firm rather than individuals. This change in strategy is a reflection that they are trying to deter violations of the fiduciary standard at the individual and firm level.
Looking ahead, comments from SEC and FINRA officials reveal that this is only the beginning. According to FINRA’s acting head of enforcement, Chris Kelly, ‘more and more’ cases involving all four pillars of Reg BI which includes disclosure, care, conflict of interest, and compliance are likely to be filed.
Finsum: FINRA and SEC regulators are increasing Reg BI enforcement. They are targeting firms for improper sales supervision and punishing brokers for violations.