Advisor Groups ‘Working Hard’ to Get Senate User Fees Bill

FINRA ‘remains committed’ to gaining oversight of advisors, says top IAA lobbyist

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The Investment Adviser Association and other planning groups are “working hard” to get a bipartisan user fees bill introduced in the Senate that mirrors H.R. 1627, legislation introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., that has been languishing in the House, Neil Simon, the Investment Adviser Association’s chief lobbyist, said Thursday.

Speaking at the IAA’s annual compliance conference in Arlington, Va., just outside Washington, Simon said that planning groups were ramping up their efforts to rally support for a user fees bill in the Senate as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority “remains committed” to gaining oversight authority of investment advisors.

While FINRA failed in its attempt to get the House to pass a bill appointing it as a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for advisors, FINRA is still actively “laying the foundation for a future lobbying efforts” on this front, Simon told the audience of 250 compliance officials.

Evidence of this lobbying, he said, is Congress’ insistence on “keeping the SEC’s budget flat” so that the agency lacks the funds to add more examiners.

Simon said IAA and its members will push the user fees issue during IAA’s lobbying day in Washington on June 12.

Under President Barack Obama’s just-released fiscal 2015 budget, the SEC would receive $1.7 billion, a 26% increase over the 2014 enacted level of $1.35 billion. The administration requested $1.67 billion for the SEC in 2014.

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 fiscal 2014, the SEC lacked the funding to add them.

Simon said the administration’s 2015 request for the SEC budget boost was “dead on arrival” on Capitol Hill. “I am not optimistic that SEC is going to see this increase.”

Indeed, Congress isn’t likely to take action on any 2015 spending bills until after the midterm elections in November. This fact, added IAA Executive Director David Tittsworth, makes the president’s budget “even more irrelevant than in most other years.”

Waters, ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, reintroduced last April her Investment Adviser Examination Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 1627, which would allow the SEC to collect user fees to fund advisor exams, but it has garnered little support among the Republican-controlled committee.

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