More On Legal & Compliancefrom The Advisor's Professional Library
- 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.
- 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.
Just in time for election season, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued Friday an alert to strengthen compliance with a Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) rule that limits political contributions by municipal securities professionals to campaigns of public officials of issuers with whom they are doing or seek to do business.
The risk alert issued by the agency’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) notes that SEC examiners have observed practices that raise concerns about firms’ compliance with their obligations under MSRB Rule G-37, which clamped down on so-called “pay-to-play” practices.
These concerns include:
- Compliance with the rule’s ban on doing business with a municipal issuer within two years of a political contribution to officials of the issuer by any of the firm’s municipal finance professionals
- Possible recordkeeping violations
- Failure to file accurate and complete required forms with regulators regarding political contributions
- Inadequate supervision
The Risk Alert identifies practices that examiners have seen some firms use to comply with applicable federal, state and local rules on contributions. These include training programs for municipal finance professionals, self-certification of compliance with restrictions on political contributions, surveillance for unreported political contributions, and preclearance or restrictions on political contributions when permitted by state or local law. The Risk Alert stresses that the practices are described only to inform firms about approaches being used to strengthen compliance efforts; these practices may not be applicable to a particular firm, and other practices may be appropriate to consider instead.