Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, told broker-dealers today that Regulation Best Interest will be implemented on time, even though the COVID-19 crisis has all but reduced the securities industry to skeleton staff, with all but the most vital of employees working remotely from home.

Clayton said he decided to allow the June 30 implementation date to stand for the nearly 1,000 pages of retail conduct regulation after extensive meetings between the SEC and broker-dealers, investment advisors, retail investors and regulators over the past 10 months.

“Based on that engagement­­—and because the continued implementation of these conduct and transparency initiatives … will significantly benefit Main Street investors—we believe that the June 30, 2020, compliance date for Reg BI and other requirements, including the requirement to file and begin delivering Form CRS, remains appropriate,” Clayton said in a statement.

He urged the industry to “make good faith efforts around operational matters to ensure compliance by June 30, 2020, including devoting resources as necessary and available in light of the circumstances.”

He said firms should engage with the SEC if they are unable to make certain filing dates or meet other requirements because of disruptions caused by COVID-19. Those disruptions include efforts to comply with national, state or local health and safety directives and guidance.

He said he expects the commission and staff will take the unforeseen circumstances into account in examination and enforcement efforts, including the ways the current crisis has constrained firms’ operations and resources.

During the initial period following the compliance date, SEC examiners will be focusing on whether firms have made a good faith effort to implement policies and procedures necessary to comply with Reg BI, while also providing an opportunity to work with firms on compliance and other questions, the chairman added.

Clayton said the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations will be issuing two risk alerts in the coming days to provide additional information.

The first alert will give broker-dealers specific information about the scope and content of initial examinations for Reg BI.

The second will provide broker-dealers and investment advisors with similar information about Form CRS—the customer relationship summary that explains advisors’ specific services, conflicts and limitations.

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