The Obama budget unveiled yesterday would add 280 more investment advisor, investment company and private fund examiners—part of a Securities and Exchange Commission plan to eventually examine half of all advisors every year.

The move would let the agency increase the percentage of advisors examined to 14 percent in fiscal 2014 (which begins October 1) from 10 percent projected for fiscal 2013. The percentage of investment companies reviewed would rise to 16 percent from 14 percent. The SEC’s long-term goal is to examine advisors at about the same rate that broker-dealers are examined by Finra—about 45 percent to 50 percent per year, according to a source within the agency.

Obama is seeking a 27-percent hike in the SEC budget, to $1.674 billion.

The president is also seeking legislation to automatically enroll workers in employee-sponsored retirement plans, including IRAs and 401(k)s, through payroll deposit contributions.

Investment Adviser Association Executive Director David Tittsworth hailed both proposals, calling the request for more examiners “a step in the right direction.”

The payroll contributions would be voluntary—employees would be free to opt out—and matched by the Saver’s Tax Credit for eligible families.

Small employers would be eligible for tax credits to defray the administrative costs of setting up the plans and the existing tax credit for small employers that start up new qualifying employer plans would be doubled.

In addition, the Obma budget would repeal the special 404(k) dividend deduction for employer stock held in an ESOP that is sponsored by a C corporation with annual receipts of more than $5 million.

The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries said it is very concerned about the budget proposal. The organization views the budget's proposed cap on 401(k) and IRA savings as a double tax.

“Small business owners earning over $250,000 would have to pay tax on contributions in the year the contributions are made then pay tax at the full rate when contributions are distributed at retirement. If a small business owner has saved $3 million in his or her 401(k) account, they won’t be allowed to save any more—and will have to pull out and pay tax on any balance over that amount,”  the trade group’s executive director and chief executive officer Brian Graff said in a statement.

The Investment Company Institute, the trade group for mutual fund operators, said Obama's proposal to cap the amount of annual contributions to retirement plans that can be deducted at 28% of income would harm savings and retirement preparedness.

Making a case for the expanded number of investment advisory examiners, the SEC noted in the last decade the number of registered advisors has grown from 7,600 to 11,000 while assets under management have soared to $50 trillion from $21 trillion.

But that argument is likely to fall on deaf ears with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which has been trying to roll back financial regulations enacted by Obama.

Last year. Obama sought an 18.5-percent increase for the SEC for fiscal 2013. He was given a 5-percent cut over 2012.

Obama is seeking a 27-percent hike in the SEC budget, to $1.674 billion.

Congressional Republicans have repeatedly said they think they have a better chance at weakening Dodd Frank by reigning in the regulators’ budgets than by changing the law.

Obama is also calling for a budget increase of 54 percent for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.


 

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