October 28, 2010

The Next Wave of Congressional Chairmen

More On Legal & Compliance

from The Advisor's Professional Library
  • 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.
  • Dealings With Qualified Clients and Accredited Investors Depending upon an RIAs business model and investment strategies, it may be important to identify “qualified clients” and “accredited investors.”  The Dodd-Frank Act authorized the SEC to change which clients are defined by those terms.

A prominent Washington think tank has come out with its pre-election predictions on how key congressional committees will change hands if Republicans take control. Here’s a rundown from the think tank of who is projected to chair these key committees:

On the House side:

Financial Services
Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., is the likely replacement of current chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Ways and Means
David Camp, R-Mich., would succeed Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which oversees such important issues as taxes and Social Security. He supports extending all of the Bush tax cuts.

Oversight and Government Reform
Darrell Issa, R-Calif., would become chairman of this committee that doesn’t produce a lot of legislation, but has considerable oversight power, the think tank says. Issa will likely hold hearings on health care reform and financial regulation, as well as the structure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Energy and Commerce
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is the ranking member but is term-limited, so Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., appears next in line to assume the chairmanship.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., would replace the retiring David Obey, D-Wis., as chairman of the full Appropriations Committee.

Armed Services
Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., would be the next chairman

Transportation and Infrastructure
John Mica, R-Fla., would become chairman. On transportation issues, Mica is a supporter of high-speed rail, the think-tank says. “If a multi-year highway bill is addressed in the next Congress, he will obviously play a large role in writing it.”

On the Senate side:

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
As expected, Senator Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, will take over for the retiring chairman, Christopher Dodd (D-CT). Johnson, who’s considerably more conservative than Dodd, “can be expected to take a different tact than Dodd,” the Washington think tank says.

Johnson crafted the language requiring the SEC to conduct a study of advisor and broker obligations, and finally conceded to allow the Dodd-Frank Act to include language allowing the SEC to put brokers under a fiduciary mandate—after the study is performed. Johnson has said that his “major priority for the next Congress” will be the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.

On another note, I heard Tim Ryan, CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), make some telling comments concerning how the SEC’s fiduciary standard language will look after a speech he gave recently at the Washington Economics Club. He said that the uniform fiduciary standard that the SEC is busy crafting—with help from SIFMA, no doubt--will likely be a “modified ’40 Act standard” that incorporates additional disclosures. But, he said, it will be “disclosure that’s understood.”

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