From the March 2009 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

When It Pays to Fight City Hall

Sidebar to the The Playing Field "Reform Is On The Way"

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • Preventing and Dealing with Client Complaints Although the SEC has not provided specific guidance on how client complaints should be handled, a firm’s policies and procedures should provide clear direction how to do so, as neglecting complaints can exacerbate a bad situation.
  • Pay-to-Play Rule Violating the pay-to-play rule can result in serious consequences, and RIAs should adopt robust policies and procedures to prevent and detect contributions made to influence the selection of the firm by a government entity.

New SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro promises better enforcement from the Commission, but the securities law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan's annual analysis of litigated disciplinary proceedings brought by the SEC and FINRA against broker/dealers and registered representatives shows that it sometimes pays for B/Ds and reps to litigate against the regulators.

Of the 86 charges that were litigated by the SEC and FINRA during the year ended September 30, 2008 (the SEC's fiscal year), firms and representatives succeeded in getting charges dismissed 16% of the time, Sutherland's study found. SEC respondents had slightly more success (approximately 19%--5 of 26) than FINRA respondents (15%--9 of 60). "The success that FINRA respondents had marked an improvement compared with prior years going back to January 2000," the study said. "Historically, the average dismissal rate for FINRA charges has hovered around 11%."

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