The SEC just put out a shot across the bow of brokerage firms as it regards Reg BI. Firms and industry attorneys have been expecting the SEC to ratchet up enforcement over the coming year as the agency starts to bring Biden’s priorities into reality. However, the SEC made it very clear this week, telling firms that it is not enough to tell reps what Reg BI says, but educate them with examples of how to meet Reg BI’s requirements. Investment News summarized the SEC’s comments this way, saying “Financial firms that are failing to comply with the broker standard of conduct aren’t aligning their internal controls to meet its requirements”. The SEC is now checking to see if firms have set up a robust Reg BI compliance program, and if not, they will be in hot water”. According to Corey Schuster, assistant director of Division of Enforcement’s asset management unit, “firms may want to consider: Have you done a deep dive on conflicts? … Have you examined your disclosures regarding conflicts? And is there a need to mitigate certain conflicts of interest?”.
FINSUM: The SEC is gearing up to drop the hammer on Reg BI enforcement, which has long been expected. However, the reality of heavier enforcement and the specifics of how it is executed are very different than seemingly far-off expectations.