Joint exams by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission could “potentially” happen in the future, Andrew "Drew" Bowden, deputy director of the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, said today.

With the rapid growth and complexity of alternative funds, and the confusion they can create among advisors and clients, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations considers scrutiny of the investment vehicles as one it its top emerging priorities, Bowden said.

Speaking at the Investment Adviser Association’s (IAA) annual compliance conference, Bowden said his unit does not want to make frivolous referrals to the SEC’s enforcement division because investigations can often be prolonged and consume substantial amounts of staff time.

Ten percent of SEC exams have led to referrals for possible enforcement action in the last three to five years, Bowden noted. The most common referrals involve fraud, egregious harm to investors and repeat misconduct, he said.

In other discussions, IAA lobbyist Neil Simon told the gathering he expects Finra will continue to push for regulatory power over investment advisors despite comments to the contrary by its chairman and chief executive officer, Richard Ketchum, in a February interview and despite the failure in Congress last year of legislation that would have given Finra that power.

A bill to require federal and state registered investment advisors to register with a self-regulatory organization, presumably Finra, was introduced in the House Financial Services Committee last year by then-chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.). The bill never came up for a vote.

Simon said the current chair, Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling, has not shown any interest in the issue.

Last month, Senate Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-S.D). told Financial Advisor magazine he is undecided whether investment advisors should be under Finra.

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