Financial Regulatory Forum

SEC bars, fines advisory owner for misrepresenting GIPS compliance

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, June 3, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The Securities and Exchange Commission has barred an investment adviser’s president and owner from the advisory and brokerage industries for misrepresenting his firm’s performance and its compliance with GIPS, the global investment performance standards.

Tuesday’s ruling, by SEC administrative law judge Cameron Elliot, may be the first formal SEC sanction against an adviser or an associated person for misrepresenting its compliance with GIPS, which is voluntary, although the SEC has sanctioned a firm that also invented a client with large investments with the firm. The SEC has warned that its examiners will focus on disclosures over fees, expenses and performance. (more…)

U.S. compliance salary report: More jobs, higher pay, but post-crisis boost is limited

By Emmanuel Olaoye and Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, May 29, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The job market for compliance professionals is picking up. But the high fines and complicated investigations financial services firms face as regulators and enforcers sharpen their scrutiny after the 2008 financial crisis have had a limited impact on compensation trends, boutique recruiters and global firms told Compliance Complete.

Average starting salaries in a broad range of financial compliance positions rose 2.3 percent to 4.2 percent in 2013, according to figures from Robert Half, an international recruitment firm. (See chart) That compares with about 3.4 percent among financial professionals as a group. (more…)

In bid to punish individual, FinCEN pursued MoneyGram business leaders, but caught compliance chief – source

By Brett Wolf, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, May 20, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Although investigators with Treasury’s anti-money laundering unit tried to identify a senior business leader at MoneyGram International Inc who could be penalized over the money transfer giant’s admitted compliance failures, available evidence left them only one viable target – the firm’s former chief compliance officer, a former official with firsthand knowledge of the investigation said.

The push by Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to send a stern message to the financial services community by targeting one of its own with a large fine began roughly a year and a half ago due to pressure from Capitol Hill. FinCEN investigators eyed a number of current and former MoneyGram employees, but found that senior business leaders had not left an evidence trail to follow. (more…)

Focus on bad bankers, not just their banks, New York’s Lawsky says

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, May 13, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Banks don’t do bad things – people do – so the people behind the alleged violations should face more regulatory scrutiny and personal accountability, said Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Focusing on individuals could better deter misconduct , and could also stop sending signals that the bank where the individuals worked – and the banking industry overall – are bad, Lawsky told reporters at a Reuters financial services regulatory summit in Manhattan. (more…)

“Super managers,” governance spotlighted in economist Piketty’s blockbuster capitalism critique

By Henry Engler, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK – May 8, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - How much of a role have corporate boards played in rising income inequality in the United States, the UK and elsewhere?

If one reads between the lines of French economist Thomas Piketty’s best-selling blockbuster book on capitalism and inequality – “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” – the answer might be: quite a bit.

The core of Piketty’s thesis and empirical evidence focuses on the long-term relationship between returns on capital and economic growth. Specifically, over long periods of time, when the return on capital exceeds the rate of economic growth, inequality tends to ensue. On the other hand, when growth exceeds capital’s return, income equality tends to improve as wealth is driven more by wage growth. Since 1970, according to Piketty, we have been living in world dominated by the former, with rising returns to holders of capital the primary force behind widening income gaps in the United States and certain European economies. In economic terms “r” – the return on capital – has been greater than “g” – the rate of growth – for some time. (more…)

INSIGHT: SEC cyber-risk exam guidelines set template for firms

By Abel Picardi, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, May 6, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission tightens its supervision of technology security on Wall Street, with plans to examine cybersecurity preparedness at more than 50 broker-dealers and investment advisers, the agency has released a checklist intended to help firms review their controls whether or not they come into the crosshairs of examiners.

The move is in keeping with a cybersecurity push by SEC Chair Mary Jo White, as well as principles outlined in February by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (more…)

IA brief: Account takeovers are big cybersecurity risk for advisers

By Jason Wallace, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, April 24, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A recent cybersecurity roundtable hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission should act as a call to action for investment advisers, as the threat of cyber attacks is high for all companies and increasing daily, say event panelists.

Investment advisers, whether small or midsize, are not immune from these attacks and now is a good time to recognize the firm’s risks, review available guidance, hone formal policies and procedures, and preparing for an imminent SEC exam module concerning cybersecurity. (more…)

IA brief: SEC opens door to social media ratings and client lists

By Jason Wallace, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, April 22, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The Securities and Exchange Commission’s guidance update this week on investment adviser use of social media and the applicability of the testimonial rule will help ease uncertainty over using of certain features of social media sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The guidance, in the form of 9 questions and answers, primarily focused on the use of third-party review sites and whether it would trigger a testimonial violation. The guidance included specific examples opening the door to using Yelp, Foursquare or a similar site that offers a business review feature, granted certain conditions are achieved. (more…)

Expect corruption crackdown to widen, intensify

By Stuart Gittleman, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Apr. 15, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Companies and financial firms that are potentially subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption regimes should expect more of the enforcement crackdown they have seen in recent years, except in greater quantity and intensity, two former U.S. government officials said last week.

The ex-officials, Cheryl Scarboro, a law partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Greg Andres, a partner at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, respectively headed the Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Division FCPA unit and the Department of Justice Criminal Division fraud section. They spoke at an FCPA and anti-corruption seminar at the New York City Bar Association. (more…)

Forget HFT; “High Intelligence Trading” is the new frontier for technology, markets, regulation

By Henry Engler, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Apr. 10, 2014 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - While fast is good, smart is better, and with untold resources of computing power and memory banks in the clouds, the new frontier in electronic trading combines sophisticated intelligent software with rapid-fire processing, enabling traders to stay one step ahead of the regulators.

“What’s the difference between pure speed and adding intelligence to that speed?” asked Terry Keene, head of iSys, a technology integration firm, at a conference focused on high performance computing. The answer is “big data analytics” that brings decision-making and trading to a “near-time” environment, he added. (more…)

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