From the September 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

SEC, DOL to Share Data

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 SEC and Department of Labor (DOL) agreed July 29 to share information on retirement and investments in what they said was a bid to protect the $5.8 trillion in retirement assets of American workers, retirees, and their families held in employee benefit plans.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishes a process for the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration and SEC staffs to share information and meet regularly to discuss matters of mutual interest, according to a release announcing the agreement. These include examination findings and trends, enforcement cases, and regulatory requirements that impact the missions of both agencies. The DOL has oversight over 401(k) and other retirement plans as well as plan participants, while the SEC oversees, among other areas, brokerages, investment advisors, and mutual funds.

"With a growing number of seniors focused on managing their own 401(k) plans, it's important to improve disclosure to give them the information they need and in a form they can use," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said. "To accomplish this, the Department of Labor and the SEC are committed to coordinating closely on their behalf. This enhanced coordination will greatly benefit the millions of hardworking Americans who are saving and investing for their retirement as well as those who have already retired."

Both agencies will designate points of contact in their regional offices to facilitate communications among staff on enforcement and examination matters, the release states. "The agreement also will expedite the sharing of non-public information regarding investment advisors and other subjects of mutual interest between the two agencies. Additionally, DOL and SEC will cross-train staff under the agreement with the goal of enhancing each agency's understanding of the other's mission and investigative jurisdiction."

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