With the incoming Trump Administration about to take the reigns in Washington, it's impossible to predict what changes are in store for the SEC or for the securities industry. Change is certainly in the air. For now, the SEC has made the following announcement, which may provide us with some guidance, at least for the time being:
SEC Announces 2017 Examination Priorities
New Areas of Focus Include Electronic Investment Advice, Money Market Funds, and Senior Investors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington D.C., Jan. 12, 2017 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ (OCIE) 2017 priorities. Areas of focus include electronic investment advice, money market funds, and financial exploitation of senior investors. The priorities also reflect a continuing focus on protecting retail investors, including individuals investing for their retirement, and assessing market-wide risks.
“These priorities make clear we are continuing to focus on a wide range of issues impacting our markets, from traditional areas such as market-wide risks to new forms of technology including automated investment advice,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “Whether it is protecting our most vulnerable senior investors or those investing in the trillion dollar money market fund industry, OCIE continues its efficient and effective risk-based approach to ensure compliance with our nation’s securities laws.”
“OCIE’s priorities identify where we see risk to investors so that registrants can evaluate their own compliance programs in these important areas and make necessary changes and enhancements,” said OCIE Director Marc Wyatt.
The 2017 examination priorities address issues across a variety of financial institutions, including investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, transfer agents, clearing agencies, private fund advisers, national securities exchanges, and municipal advisors. Areas of examination focus include:
Retail Investors – Protecting retail investors remains a priority in 2017. OCIE will continue several 2016 initiatives to assess risks to retail investors seeking information, advice, products, and services. It also will undertake examinations to review firms delivering investment advice through electronic mechanisms, sometimes referred to as “robo-advising,” as well as wrap fee programs in which investors are charged a single bundled fee for advisory and brokerage services.
Senior Investors and Retirement Investments – OCIE also is continuing its focus on public pension advisers and expanding its focus on senior investors and individuals investing for retirement. OCIE is broadening its ReTIRE initiative to include reviews of investment advisers and broker-dealers that offer variable insurance products to investors with retirement accounts as well as those advisers that offer and manage target-date funds. OCIE also will focus more specifically on registrants’ interactions with senior investors, including with respect to identifying financial exploitation.
Market-Wide Risks – To help fulfill the SEC’s mission of maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, OCIE will continue its focus on registrants’ compliance with the SEC’s Regulation SCI and anti-money laundering rules. New initiatives for 2017 include an evaluation of money market funds’ compliance with the SEC’s amended rules, which became effective in October 2016.
FINRA – Consistent with OCIE’s goal of enhancing oversight of FINRA to protect investors and the integrity of our markets, it will continue conducting inspections of FINRA's operations and regulatory programs, and focus resources on assessing the examinations of individual broker-dealers.
Cybersecurity – OCIE will continue its ongoing initiative to examine for cybersecurity compliance procedures and controls, including testing the implementation of those procedures and controls at broker-dealers and investment advisers.
The published priorities for 2017 are not exhaustive and may be adjusted in light of market conditions, industry developments, and ongoing risk assessment activities. OCIE selected the priorities in consultation with the Commission, the SEC’s policy divisions and regional offices, the Division of Enforcement, the SEC’s Investor Advocate, and other regulators.