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SEC Announces 2015 Examination Priorities

Priorities Focus on Protecting Retail Investors, Assessing Market-Wide Risks and Using Data Analytics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2015-3
Washington D.C., Jan. 13, 2015

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ (OCIE) priorities for 2015 which focus on three areas: protecting retail investors, especially those saving for or in retirement; assessing market-wide risks; and using data analytics to identify signs of potential illegal activity. 

“Our examination program collects information for the Commission on a range of important trends, issues, and risks,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “OCIE helps us to maintain a strong presence with SEC registrants and to make a positive impact for the benefit of investors and our markets.”

“We share our annual examination priorities to promote compliance,” said Andrew J. Bowden, OCIE’s Director.  “We have observed that when we share our areas of focus, many industry participants independently review their controls in the areas we have identified.”

The 2015 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:

Retail Investors – Retail investors are being offered products and services that were formerly characterized as alternative or institutional, including private funds, illiquid investments, and structured products.  Additionally, financial services firms are offering a broad array of information, advice, products, and services to help retail investors plan for and live in retirement.  OCIE will assess risks to retail investors that can arise from these trends.

Market-Wide Risks – OCIE will examine for structural risks and trends that involve multiple firms or entire industries, including: monitoring large broker-dealers and asset managers in coordination with the SEC’s policy divisions, conducting annual examinations of clearing agencies as required by the Dodd-Frank Act, assessing cybersecurity controls across a range of industry participants, and examining broker-dealers’ compliance with best execution duties in routing equity order flow.

Data Analytics – Over the last several years, OCIE has made significant enhancements that enable exam staff to analyze large amounts of data efficiently and effectively. OCIE will use these capabilities to focus on registrants and registered representatives that appear to be potentially engaged in illegal activity.

The published priorities for 2015 are not exhaustive and may be adjusted in light of market conditions, industry developments, and ongoing risk assessment activities.  OCIE selected the priorities in consultation with the Commission, the SEC’s policy divisions and regional offices, the enforcement division, the SEC’s Investor Advocate, and other regulators.

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