The Securities and Exchange Commission released its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ (OCIE) 2016 exam priorities. New areas of focus include liquidity controls, public pension advisers, product promotion, and two popular investment products, exchange-traded funds and variable annuities. The priorities also reflect a continuing focus on protecting investors in ongoing risk areas such as cybersecurity, microcap fraud, fee selection, and reverse churning.
“These new areas of focus are extremely important to investors and financial institutions across the spectrum,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “Through information sharing and conducting comprehensive examinations, OCIE continues to promote compliance with the federal securities laws to better protect investors and our markets.”
“For the last four years, OCIE’s transparency and information sharing has helped inform the industry,” said OCIE Director Marc Wyatt. “We hope that registrants will use this information to inform the evaluation of their own compliance programs in these key areas.”
The 2016 examination priorities address issues across a variety of financial institutions, including investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, transfer agents, clearing agencies, and national securities exchanges. Areas of examination include:
- Protecting retail investors, including those investing for retirement, remains a priority in 2016. OCIE will continue several 2015 initiatives to assess risks to retail investors seeking information, advice, products, and services to help them plan for and live in retirement. It also will undertake examinations to review exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and ETF trading practices, variable annuity recommendations and disclosure, and potential conflicts and risks involving advisers to public pension funds.
- To help fulfill the SEC’s mission of maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, OCIE will continue its focus on cybersecurity controls at broker-dealers and investment advisers. New initiatives for 2016 include an evaluation of broker-dealers’ and investment advisers’ liquidity risk management practices, and firms’ compliance with the SEC’s Regulation SCI, designed to strengthen the technology infrastructure of the U.S. securities markets.
- OCIE’s enhanced ability to analyze large amounts of data will assist examiners’ ongoing initiatives to assess anti-money laundering compliance, detect microcap fraud, and review for excessive trading. Data analytics also will help examinations focused on promotion of new, complex, and high-risk products.
While the priorities set out are not exhaustive, the examination priorities give a clear view of the SEC’s vision of 2016 for broker-dealer and investment advisers. To this end, the SEC is committed to allocate significant resources throughout 2016 to the examination priorities set by OCIE. However, the SEC staff will also continue to conduct examinations focused on risks, issues, and policy matters that arise from market developments, new information learned from examinations or other sources, including tips, complaints, and referrals, and coordination with other regulators.
For the 2016 OCIE Examination Priority release, click here.