SEC Gets 26% Funding Boost Under Obama’s 2015 Budget

SEC wants to use funds to add 316 examiners, 240 devoted solely to advisors

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The Securities and Exchange Commission would receive $1.7 billion under President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget plan, released Thursday, a 26% increase over the 2014 enacted level of $1.35 billion.

The extra funds would be used to add 639 additional staffers; 316 would be added to the agency’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, with 240 of those examiners devoted solely to overseeing advisors.

The 316 added staffers would boost the total number of SEC examiners to 1,283.

In 2014, the SEC asked for funds to add 325 additional examiners, of which 250 would cover the advisory industry. While the 250 examiners were requested for FY 2014, the SEC lacked the funding to add them.

The enforcement division would get 126 new staff members, while 75 new staff members would be spread across the divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management and Trading and Markets.

The Division of Economic Risk and Analysis would get 14 new staff members.

Additional funds provided in the budget would also be used to boost investments in technology and enhance the agency’s tips, complaints and referrals system.

The agency would also gauge whether to add new staff members to its new Office of Investor Advocate, which currently has five employees.

SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said in a Tuesday statement that she was “pleased that the President's FY 2015 Request recognizes the SEC's need for significant additional resources. The $1.7 billion requested will be critical for the SEC to fulfill its mission to investors and our markets. It is also important to remember that this funding comes from industry transaction fees and does not take money away from other priorities or contribute to the federal deficit."

The Obama administration requested $1.67 billion for the SEC in 2014, but Congress set the SEC’s budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in September, at $1.35 billion.

However, Congress isn’t likely to take action on any 2015 spending bills until after the midterm elections in November. This fact makes the president’s budget “even more irrelevant than in most other years,” says David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association in Washington.

“Nonetheless, the president’s budget reflects the administration’s continuing support for Mary Jo White’s priorities, which include hiring a lot of additional SEC examiners to inspect investment advisory firms,” Tittsworth says.

The SEC announced in late February that it had started an exam sweep of about 4,000 never-examined advisors registered with the SEC for three or more years.

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Check out Obama's 2015 Budget Riles Up Retirement Industry on ThinkAdvisor.

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