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The Many Recent Signals that Foreshadow a More Aggressive SEC  in Terms of Enforcement Action and Stiffer Penalties for Wrongdoers

The first few months of 2021 have marked a clear shift in how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could soon start holding corporations to a much higher standard of accountability for actions that harm investors. A central theme of the SEC’s emerging mindset, as stated in a March 9, 2021, speech by Commissioner Caroline Crenshaw is the belief that corporate culture comes from the top and there is a strong need to incentivize companies to foster a culture of compliance, not misconduct.

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SEC Division of Examinations Cites Enhanced Focus on Business Continuity Processes, Protection of Retail Investors and ESG-Related Risks Among its 2021 Priorities

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Examinations (“EXAMS” or the “Division”) released its annual priorities on March 3, 2021 in a 42-page report of exam priorities.  Among other things, the list includes an ongoing emphasis on the overall strength of financial advisers’ compliance programs and a growing interest in the evolving risks to investors related to relevant climate and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds.

 

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FINRA Report Suggests Growing Need for Enhanced Risk Management in Cybersecurity and Outside Business Activities

Firms that have seen the recently released 2021 Report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) Examination and Risk Monitoring Program (the “Report”) should be formulating plans to fortify their compliance programs based on the noteworthy findings shared from recent FINRA exams. The Report provides firms with valuable insight into 18 regulatory topics categorized by Firm Operations, Communications and Sales, Market Integrity, and Financial Management.

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New Advisers Act Advertising Rule to Undergo Further Review

Investment Advisory firms that are eagerly awaiting the revisions recently adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the archaic Advisers Act Advertising Rule previously anticipated to become effective this spring, will have to wait a bit longer.  The Advertising Rule prepared and approved under the former Trump Administration is now required to undergo review by the newly installed Biden Administration.

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