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
  • Trading Practices and Errors When SEC-registered investment advisors conduct annual audits of firm policies and procedures, they should pay close attention to trading practices.  Though usually not required to, state-registered advisors should look at their trading practices and revise policies that do not fully protect clients.
  • Proxy Voting RIAs are not required to vote proxies on behalf of their clients. However, when an RIA does assume responsibility for voting proxies, the firm’s policies and procedures should help to ensure that votes are cast in the best interest of clients.

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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