NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Securities and Exchange Commission is leaning more heavily on partner regulator the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to monitor brokerages as it devotes extra staff to oversee the rapid growth of independent financial advisers, a top regulator said Monday.
The move crimps the number of SEC examiners monitoring brokerages, and to make sure FINRA is picking up the slack, the commission formed a group that assesses the Wall Street regulator’s efforts at monitoring the sector, said Marc Wyatt, the head of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations at a speech in Washington, D.C.
“(The office) is working to enhance our oversight of FINRA because we will be somewhat more dependent on them for broker-dealer exams in the first instance,” Wyatt said, speaking to the National Society of Compliance Professionals.
Starting this month, an additional 20 percent of SEC staff are tasked with examining investment advisers, a group that has increased by 2,000 in 2 years.
The group that will assess FINRA’s actions is called the FINRA and Securities Industry Oversight group, and will be staffed by about 45 people in offices in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.
Wyatt told the crowd the SEC is “not forgetting” about the broker-dealer population, and is keeping regulators focused on this group in New York and Chicago.
But as the only regulator with jurisdiction over registered investment advisers, Wyatt said they needed to focus more examiners on the “key population.”
In recent years as many brokerages were bought by banks, new business models offering greater independence and the ability to sell a greater variety of investment products have grown in popularity among financial advisers.
The SEC has been criticized for only examining 10 percent of registered investment advisers each year.
Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Andrew Hay