SEC Retirement-Targeted Examinations
This is my 37th article about interesting observations concerning the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule and exemptions. These articles also cover the DOL’s FAQs interpreting the regulation and exemptions and related developments in the securities laws.
In 2015, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the SEC issued a National Exam Program Risk Alert describing its “Retirement-Targeted Industry Reviews and Examinations Initiative” (ReTIRE). The Initiative announces that the OCIE “will conduct examinations of SEC-registered investment advisers and broker-dealers (collectively, registrants) under the ReTIRE Initiative that will focus on certain high-risk areas of registrants’ sales, investment and oversight processes, with particular emphasis on select areas where retail investors saving for retirement may be harmed.”
In its Risk Alert, the OCIE says:
“The staff intends to use data analytics, information from prior examinations, and examiner-driven due diligence to identify registrants to examine under this Initiative. As part of the examinations or the selection of examination candidates, the staff may focus on the activities of investment advisory representatives and/or broker-dealer registered representatives (collectively, representatives). The risk-based examinations conducted under the ReTIRE Initiative will focus on the services offered by the registrants to investors with retirement accounts in the following areas:
Reasonable Basis for Recommendations. . . .
Conflicts of Interest. . . .
Supervision and Compliance Controls. . . .
Marketing and Disclosure. . . .”
The purpose of this post is to emphasize that there are agencies, in addition to the Department of Labor, that are focused on advisers’ practices for retirement investing and related activities (for example, the recommendation of rollovers). In future posts, I will discuss the OCIE’s focus for those examinations.
For the moment, though, a good approach is to make sure that recommendations regarding plan distributions and rollovers are in the best interest of the participants and that investment practices for IRAs should be consistent with prudent investing in retirement (and should reflect practices such as appropriate portfolio investing, diversification, and mitigation of conflicts of interest).
The views expressed in this article are the views of Fred Reish, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Drinker Biddle & Reath.
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