On January 11, 2016 the SEC announced the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examination (OCIE)’s 2016 exam priorities. One of the areas of focus mentioned in the press release has the potential to greatly affect not just SEC registered investment advisers, but state registered investment advisers as well.
One of Red Oak’s employees wrote: “When I worked as an auditor for the state, I saw many state registered investment advisers who dealt mainly, if not solely, with ETF’s. At face value they are a moderate compromise to the higher expenses and restricted access to real time trading associated with traditional mutual funds. Upon reading the SEC’s summary of its 2016 exam focus I noted that one of its areas of focus will involve greater scrutiny in the marketing of exchange traded funds (ETF’s) and variable annuities.”
They state that their area of focus in regards to these two products will include trading practices, variable annuities recommendations, disclosure and potential conflicts, and risks involving advisers to public pension funds. I assume the latter was included in the scope as a means of getting the ball rolling on what the regulatory industry feels is an area of concern until the current administration can finalize the DOL Fiduciary Rule, and the focus on whose role it is to regulate these issues; the SEC or DOL. You can read the full release here and prepare yourself for a possible SEC exam this year.