SEC Chief to Break Her Silence on Fiduciary in ‘Short Term’

It remains a priority ‘to get the Commission in a position’ to make a decision on a fiduciary rule, White says

SEC chief Mary Jo White. (Photo: AP) SEC chief Mary Jo White. (Photo: AP)

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White said Friday that she would speak about her position regarding a rule to put brokers under a fiduciary mandate “in the short term,” stating that it remains a priority of hers “to get the Commission in a position to make that decision” on such a rule.

White made her comments regarding a fiduciary rulemaking to reporters after her remarks at the Practising Law Institute’s SEC Speaks conference in Washington.

White had said in November that she would provide more “clarity” as to her position regarding a uniform fiduciary rule in the “short term,” despite the fact that the agency has not yet decided “whether to do something or what to do” regarding such a rulemaking.

Dodd-Frank mandated rulemakings ranked first among the priorities White cited in her remarks to attendees.

When asked why the delay in providing her stance on a fiduciary rulemaking, White said that such a rule is “a very important area that is complex and needs to be considered very carefully.”

Such a rulemaking is “a priority and it’s been a priority of mine,” White said. “I’ve been working very hard with the [SEC] staff on it.”

When asked if it mattered whether the Department of Labor moved first in releasing the redraft of its rule to amend the defintion of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, White said, "No, it doesn’t matter," adding that the SEC (if the agency decides to pursue one) and DOL fiduciary rules would be separate as they are "two separate agencies."

The SEC, White said, has been providing "technical assistance" to the DOL on its fiduciary rulemaking.

The DOL's redraft is expected to be filed with the Office of Management and Budget for a 90-day review any day now.

Looking ahead to rulemaking in 2015, White said that the agency will “prioritize fundamental reforms” to market structure, enhancing risk monitoring of the asset management industry and capital raising for small issuers. White said the Commission will focus on implementing the final two major mandates of the JOBS Act — Regulation A + and crowdfunding — “both very important and complex rulemakings.”

White also said the agency would focus this year on “advancing other initiative across the agency,” including exploring ways to increase exam coverage of investment advisors and enhancement to broker-dealer financial responsibility rules, and updating the agency’s regulatory regime for transfer agents.

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