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SEC Announces 2016 Examination Priorities

New Areas of Focus Include Liquidity Controls, Public Pension Advisers, Product Promotion, Exchange-Traded Funds and Variable Annuities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2016-4
Washington D.C., Jan. 11, 2016

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ (OCIE) 2016 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:

Retail Investors – 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.  

Market-Wide Risks – 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.

Data Analytics – 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.

The published priorities for 2016 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 Division of Enforcement, the SEC’s Investor Advocate, and other regulators.

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