From the April 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

SEC: "We hear you"

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Risk-Based Oversight of Investment Advisors Even if the SEC had a larger budget and more resources, it is doubtful that the Commission would have the resources to regularly examine all RIAs. Therefore, the SEC is likely to continue relying on risk-based oversight to fulfill its mission of protecting investors.
  • RIAs and Customer Identification Just as RIAs owe a duty to diligently protect their clients’ privacy and guard against theft, firms also play a vital role in customer identification. Although RIAs are not subject to an anti-money laundering rule, securities regulators expect advisors to address these issues in their policies and procedures.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed an amendment to Part 248 Reg S-P: Privacy of Consumer Information and Safeguarding Personal Information, that may make taking customers to a new firm easier on reps and B/D executives.

As proposed, the amendment "would permit a limited transfer of information to a nonaffiliated third party without the required notice and opt out when personnel move from one broker-dealer or registered investment advisor to another." But it also proposes to "broaden the scope" of information covered under Reg S-P, according to the SEC's release after its March 4 open meeting. (SEC Release www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2008/34-57427.pdf)

The Financial Services Institute (FSI), the advocacy group for independent broker/dealers that has been vocal about the impracticality of Reg S-P as it currently stands, e-mailed FSI members and journalists regarding the proposal. In a memo to FSI's General Counsel, David Bellaire, law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP stated that "a firm relying on the exception would obtain from the departing representative a written record of the information to be disclosed," changing how, for all practical purposes, many reps or investment advisors "likely remember the basic contact information for their clients, or have it in their personal records" and says the SEC acknowledges that "while some firms discourage departing representatives from soliciting clients to move their accounts to another firm, others do not." The amendment could, according to the Sutherland memo, "provide an orderly framework for a supervised transfer of basic customer information." The SEC will accept comments for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. FSI says it's carefully reviewing the proposal.

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