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Breaking news: SEC approves Ruling 151A

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Dec. 17, 2008 – U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission members today offered their overwhelming support to controversial Ruling 151A, a move which could significantly change the way that many of those in the financial services industry make their livings.

During a public session streamed on the Internet Wednesday morning, SEC chair Christopher Cox and commissioners Kathleen Casey, Elisse Walter and Luis Aguilar all offered their firm support for the proposal, which would securitize (and require securities licensing for the sales) of certain fixed indexed annuities products.

Both commissioners and staff continued to cite April’s “NBC Dateline” investigation into insurance sales as a touchstone for the ruling, suggesting that advisors use predatory tactics in the sales of annuities.

Commissioner Troy Paredes was the sole voice of dissent, telling fellow commissioners he was disappointed the ruling implies the SEC feels state insurance regulators are inadequate to efficiently oversee the issue.

Paredes also says he believes insurance companies, already hard-hit by the recent downturn in the economy, will have to bear the extra costs required in scrutinizing sales of FIA products, stating “some may be forced out of business by costs related to 151A.”

Commissioners acknowledged the tremendous public and industry feedback to the proposal – several thousand letters and submissions were sent to the SEC after the June 25 announcement of the proposed ruling – but say that 151A will provide better oversight and consumer protection for future sales of FIA products.

The ruling comes a day after SEC chair Cox admitted the body had made a “serious mistake” in not adequately tracking what has turned into a $50 billion-plus Ponzi scheme orchestrated by investor Bernard Madoff, a move which has turned massive scrutiny on the government regulator.

For more information on industry and state level response to the ruling, plus a thorough guide to “what happens next,” please visit today and in the coming days. A full transcript and links to the archived video of the SEC hearing will also be posted, when available.

What are your thoughts on the issue, and how will it impact your business? Please feel free to comment on this story.


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