The Securities and Exchange Commission’s new head of investment advisor examinations said Thursday she has no plans to make major changes to the unit or its inspections of planners. But the agency might expand its use of more extensive examinations of the sort it uses on hedge funds.
Jane Jarcho, the new head of the investment advisor/investment company examination program, oversees a staff of approximately 450 lawyers, accountants and examiners who inspect RIAs registered with the commission. She was named to the post Tuesday after serving as acting chief since March.
Among her initiatives, she said, she plans to use more “presence exams.” These exams go beyond mere oversight by focusing on problem areas such as marketing, portfolio management, conflicts of interest, safety of client assets and/or valuation. This type of exam is now used for private funds and hedge funds, but the SEC wants to expand it to other types of firms. (It has yet to determine which kind.)
The presence exams were started by Jarcho’s predecessor, Andrew Bowden, who now runs the entire SEC Office of Compliance Examinations and Inspections.
Jarcho also addressed the topic of Congress’s spending cuts and their effect on the SEC. The sequester started at the same time she became acting head, and the agency has had to cut back on its travel budget to save positions. This is important since examiners must often travel. But the sequester has not led to a hiring freeze at her unit, she said.
The most basic advice she has for financial advisors and advisory companies facing inspection by the SEC is to be direct and truthful.
“Don’t try to find a gray area in a document request and withhold [it],” she said. “If you want to know if a request covers certain types of documents, ask the exam team, don’t just fail to produce the documents.”
Jarcho said she will be splitting her time between SEC headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Chicago where she has a home and once served as regional SEC exam head.