More On Legal & Compliancefrom The Advisor's Professional Library
- Meeting and Exceeding Clients and Regulators’ Expectations Although it can be difficult, there are ways for RIAs to meet or exceed client expectations, increase customer satisfaction, and help firms retain current clients and attract new ones.
- Client Commission Practices and Soft Dollars RIAs should always evaluate whether the products and services they receive from broker-dealers are appropriate. The SEC suggested that an RIAs failure to stay within the scope of the Section 28(e) safe harbor may violate the advisors fiduciary duty to clients, so RIAs must evaluate their soft dollar relationships on a regular basis to ensure they are disclosed properly and that they do not negatively impact the best execution of clients transactions.
SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro told chief compliance officers attending the Commission's second CCOutreach national seminar at SEC headquarters in Washington January 26 that since more and more firms registered with the SEC are either dually registered as broker/dealers and investment advisors, or have affiliates that represent each type of firm, the SEC has begun "much greater collaboration between the broker/dealer and advisor examination programs, resulting in successes at uncovering wrongdoing and determining the full nature and extent of fraudulent schemes." Recent enforcement actions have included failure to disclose material conflicts of interest, Ponzi schemes, fraudulent investment schemes, illicit trading on behalf of customers, insider trading, and improper valuation of client accounts.
Schapiro noted that Carlo DiFlorio, the new director of the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examination (OCIE), plans to "think about ways we can better integrate our examinations of investment advisors, broker/dealers, and mutual funds." Schapiro also said the SEC continues its search for staff with expertise in particular areas and also bolstering its training programs. She said SEC examiners are receiving "regular and relevant training," with more than 300 becoming certified fraud examiners last year alone.
The Commission is also "seeking input from staff with expertise in areas where risk-targeted examination sweeps might uncover fraudulent acts - or might provide valuable insight on strong compliance practices," Schapiro said. For instance, SEC staff is currently conducting an examination sweep targeting more than 50 registrants across the U.S. and the UK, she said. The sweep "focuses on the manner in which investment advisors that manage CDOs, hedge funds, and other vehicles that hold asset-backed securities and other structured products have managed those assets under the ongoing stresses of the credit market."