(Dow Jones) The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, or SIFMA, urged the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday to recommend the appointment a self regulatory organization to bolster oversight of certain registered investment advisors.
SIFMA, in a comment letter to the SEC, asked the agency to recommend a regulatory structure to Congress that would "provide comparable oversight and examination" of both brokers and RIAs who provide investment advice to retail customers. SIFMA filed the comments in anticipation of a study the agency is conducting, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act, examining whether the SEC should outsource oversight of investment advisors to an industry body. Dodd-Frank requires the study to be completed next week. The Financial Planning Coalition held a press conference yesterday to comment on the upcoming studies.
"Putting into place a regulatory regime that puts clients' best interests first must also ensure there is comparable examination and enforcement of those providing personalized investment advice to individual retail investors," said Ira Hammerman, SIFMA's senior managing director and general counsel, in a statement.
SIFMA supports developing a new uniform federal fiduciary standard of care for certain brokers and registered investment advisors. "Now, we are supporting the Commission's efforts to develop an examination and enforcement structure that will oversee investment advisors for individual investors in a comparable manner to the current regulatory oversight of brokers," Hammerman said in the statement.
The letter doesn't mention or recommend the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street's self-policing organization, as a possible self regulatory organization for investment advisors. It suggests, however, that a possible self-regulator for investment advisors be tailored to their specific practices and business models.
Supporters of a self-regulatory organization for investment advisors, which include FINRA, have long-argued that the SEC lacks resources to regularly examine advisors. The SEC currently examines registered investment advisers about once every 10 years. Some advisors, however, have never been examined by the agency, compliance professionals say.
Institutional advisors and their processes for developing certain institutional products, such as "wrap fee" investment programs, are already subject to adequate oversight and shouldn't be examined by self-regulatory organizations, according to SIFMA's letter.
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