Displaying items by tag: regulation

Wednesday, 13 March 2024 11:48

No More Changes to Reg BI: Gensler

Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), spoke recently at the Investment Adviser Association Compliance Conference. In a Q&A session with reporters, he remarked that there were no current plans to modify or update Reg BI. Instead, the agency’s focus is on ‘examining for and enforcing against’ Reg BI.


In later remarks, he addressed its approach towards predictive data analytics. He believes this is a gray area, and the SEC wants to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest within newer technology that utilize behavioral prompts and nudges. Of course, this topic is even more germane given the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) powered applications. 


Gensler wants to ensure that there are no loopholes to bypass the fiduciary rule. Many in the industry contend that this rule is a backdoor expansion of Reg BI and that current regulations were sufficient. 


Previously, Gensler had spoken that the new technology enables practices to micro-target consumers with products and content. While this can help advisors grow their business, he believes this communications channel needs to be regulated as well to ensure that these business interests are not placed above the clients’. 

Finsum: At a recent conference, SEC Chair Gary Gensler pushed back that there was a backdoor expansion of Reg BI due to the predictive analytics rule. The rule mandates that predictive technology that communicates with clients must also follow the fiduciary rule.


Published in Wealth Management
Friday, 02 February 2024 07:26

Regulators Stepping Up Reg BI Enforcement

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.


Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 21 November 2023 02:27

Bonds vs Fixed-Indexed Annuities

The outlook for the financial markets and economy is quite murky given several uncertainties such as a slowing economy, high interest rates, inflation, trouble in the banking sector, and geopolitical risk. Adding to these woes has been the poor performance of bonds. Typically, they are a safe haven during periods of uncertainty and volatility. Yet, they have suffered losses and failed to provide sufficient diversification over the last couple of years.


Thus, many are looking at other asset classes to meet these needs such as fixed-indexed annuities. The rates on these annuities are tied to the performance of an index such as the S&P 500 with much less risk. They combine the security of a fixed annuity while having some upside like an index annuity.


Most fixed-indexed annuities are structured to provide 100% protection of the principal which is especially advantageous during a market downturn. In some ways, these are more secure than bank deposits given that there is a 100% financial reserve requirement for annuity issuers while banks have much lower reserve requirements on deposits.


However, there are some downsides to fixed-indexed annuities. Relative to bonds, there is much less liquidity, as most have some sort of limits on how much of the principal can be withdrawn without incurring a penalty. There are also higher fees than simply investing in a fixed income fund. 

Finsum: Fixed-indexed annuities may be a better fit for many investors than traditional bonds especially in the current environment. 


Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 22 December 2022 03:51

Just ask Nielsen

You’ve heard of breakout seasons. Professional athletes have an affinity for them – especially as they’re about to become free agents.

Well, they just might want to scootch over. The FINRA 2022 Annual Conference session, “Regulation Best Interest: Lessons Learned” ranked as one of the most highly attended breakouts of the three-day conference, according to questce.com.

Someone; sign ‘em up.

Okay, then, in the world of putting Reg Bi into place, what was learned?

FINRA said it would soon review – and deeper – Reg Bi and Form CRS. In particular, they will put a magnifying glass on Care Obligation and the compliance among firms.

Meantime, some things don’t change.

Next year, Richard Best, head of the Division of Exams, Reg Bi and the Advisers Act fiduciary duty “remains a top priority” for Securities and Exchange Commission exams in an address to the SEC’s National Compliance Seminar, reported thinkadvisor.com.

Speaking to compliance officers, Best said: The exam division is “focused on how broker-dealers and investment advisors satisfy their obligations under the 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."

Published in Eq: Total Market
Monday, 24 October 2022 11:20

Citizen’s arrest?

See the badge, mister? Shiny, huh? Smudges? Please.

Yep; the sheriff’s in town. At the recent 2022 PLANADVISER National Conference, the ongoing enforcement of the Regulation Best Interest package was a hot topic among SEC speakers, according to -planadvisder.com. The package now is fully enforced. But the subject had plenty of company; other SEC regulatory efforts -- including proposed regulations concerning money market funds, ESG investments and cybersecurity – also were addressed.

The SEC’s updated interpretation of the fiduciary duty as prescribed by the Investment Advisers Act was in total effect as well.

Now, when the law speaks, of course, listening up’s highly recommended. Here, for instance: upon passing a recommendation to a retail customer, brokerage professionals are required to act in a retail customer’s best interest. Putting their own financial or other interest ahead of the retail customer’s interests? Yep: a no no for those professionals.

For more than the past year, Reg. Bi and Form CRS compliance have been in the crosshairs of FINRA and the SEC. That included the maiden SEC Reg. Bi settlement, which occurred in June, according to goodwinlaw.com.

Published in Eq: Financials
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