Displaying items by tag: SEC

Friday, 25 November 2022 06:45

Reg BI a Top Priority for 2023 SEC Exams

According to Richard Best, Head of the Division of Exams at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Regulation Best Interest and the Advisers Act fiduciary duty remains a top priority for 2023 exams. While speaking at the SEC’s National Compliance Seminar, Best said that standards of conduct such as Reg BI and the fiduciary duty “remain top of mind for us.” Best told compliance officers that the Division of Exams is “focused on how broker-dealers and advisors satisfy their obligations under Reg BI and the Advisers Act fiduciary standard to act in the best interest of retail investors and not to place their own interests ahead of retail investors interest.” The exam division publishes an annual priorities letter each year, with the 2023 priorities expected to be issued early next year. The three areas of focus will be ESG-focused investing, private funds, and standards of conduct. For ESG, the SEC will look into whether advisors are accurately disclosing their ESG investing approaches and have implemented policies to prevent violations of federal securities laws.

Finsum:With exam priorities expected to be issued early next year, the SEC has made Regulation Best Interest and the Advisers Act fiduciary duty a top priority for 2023 exams.

Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 25 November 2022 06:00

Alternative Managers Release ESG Disclosure Tool

As the demand for standardized and transparent ESG disclosure rules continues to grow, a group of alternative asset managers launched a template for ESG disclosure. The ESG Integrated Disclosure Project template was created by the Alternative Credit Council, the private credit affiliate of the Alternative Investment Management Association, the Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LSTA), and the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. The Alternative Credit Council includes 250 asset management firms that manage over $600 billion of private credit assets. LSTA is a not-for-profit trade association that includes commercial banks, investment banks, broker-dealers, hedge funds, and other institutional lenders. The template intends to provide a standard format for ESG-related disclosures and offer companies a baseline from which they can develop their ESG reporting capacity. It was designed to be completed by borrower companies and shared with their lenders. Jiří Król, global head of the Alternative Credit Council, said the following in a statement, “By simplifying and harmonizing existing market practices, this new industry-led initiative will reduce the burden on borrowers while improving the materiality and comparability of ESG disclosure for investors.”

Finsum:A group of alternative assets managers created an ESG disclosure tool that offers companies a baseline to develop their own ESG reporting capacity. 

Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 22 November 2022 04:37

Reg BI Enforcement Ramping Up

If firms haven’t addressed and mitigated any potential conflicts of interest yet, they better start soon. Both FINRA and the SEC have not only brought their first Regulation Best Interest enforcements this year, but both agencies are promising that they will be ramping up enforcement. Robert Cook, President and CEO of FINRA, warned at the recent ALI-CLE Life Insurance Products Conference in Washington, D.C. that “Anything that would be a violation of the old suitability standard is now going to be a violation under the Reg BI standard.” He also warned firms that there are more Reg BI enforcement cases in the pipeline and said FINRA exams will “continue to evolve in terms of expectations and the depth of what we’re looking for.” Reg BI, which requires that registered reps demonstrate they have put customers’ best interests before their own is an upgrade from the old suitability standard, which only required reps to make sure products and services are appropriate for clients. The SEC has also promised more Reg BI enforcements and is bringing similar cases against investment advisor reps under the fiduciary standard. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler recently stated, “The ‘interplay’ between Reg BI and the fiduciary standard is important and that the agency will publish a staff bulletin on the topic.”

Finsum:After bringing their first Regulation Best Interest enforcements this year, both FINRA and the SEC are ramping up Reg BI enforcement. 

Published in Wealth Management

A form reviewer at the Securities and Exchange Commission recently said he wants to make sure life insurers give investors a clear picture of how their registered index-linked annuity (RILA) contracts work. RILAs are annuity contracts that can expose the holder to the risk of investment-related loss of principal, but that tie crediting rates at least partly to the performance of investment indexes, rather than to the performance of funds that resemble mutual funds. At the Life Insurance Products Conference, held recently in Washington, D.C., Michael Kosoff, an attorney on the staff of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, stated that he wants one strategy to be available throughout the life of the contract. He also wants to require issuers to disclose maximum losses. Essentially, the SEC wants life insurance company clients to say which crediting strategy the clients' guarantee will be available for the life of a RILA contract. A crediting strategy includes a reference to a particular index such as the S&P 500. Kosoff’s concern is that many issuers have a provision stating, “After the first year, we can terminate any and all options currently available. So, in essence, after year one, investors have no idea what they’re getting.”

Finsum:Due toconcerns over changing crediting changes in registered index-linked annuities, an SEC form reviewer stated that he wants one strategy to be available throughout the life of the contract.

Published in Wealth Management
Wednesday, 19 October 2022 17:10

FINRA Says No One Size Fits All for Reg BI

The resounding takeaway from a recent FINRA conference call is that the regulatory body is taking a “no one-size-fits-all” approach to Reg BI compliance. FINRA explained that it is moving away from good faith efforts reviews and into “deeper dives” on how firms comply with Form CRS and the Reg. BI Care, Compliance, Disclosure, and Conflicts of Interest obligations. The conference call focused on FINRA’s expectations during exams and the types of violations that its exam teams will refer to their enforcement colleagues. FINRA mentioned several common violations that it will refer to its Department of Enforcement, including the failure to recognize the applicability of Reg BI and Form CRS deficiencies related to incorrectly answering the disciplinary history question. It also indicated that firms that were previously cited for Reg BI CRS deficiencies, and made no efforts to correct findings, are more likely to be referred to Enforcement. The overall message for firms is that they should document the steps they have taken to further Reg. BI and Form CRS compliance. This could be the difference between an exam deficiency or an enforcement action.

Finsum: In a recent conference call, FINRA’s explained that there is no one size fits all approach to Reg BI compliance and firms shoulddocument the steps they have taken to make sure they’re compliant.

Published in Wealth Management
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