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SEC Staff and FINRA Issue Report on National Senior Investor Initiative

April 17, 2015 Comments off

SEC Staff and FINRA Issue Report on National Senior Investor Initiative
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

With the Social Security Administration estimating that each day for the next 15 years, an average of 10,000 Americans will turn 65, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today issued a report to help broker-dealers assess, craft, or refine their policies and procedures for investors as they prepare for and enter into retirement.

The National Senior Investor Initiative report includes observations and practices identified in examinations that focused on how firms conduct business with senior investors. The examinations by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) and FINRA focused on the types of securities purchased by senior investors, the suitability of recommended investments, training of brokerage firm representatives, marketing, communications, use of designations such as “senior specialist,” account documentation, disclosures, customer complaints, and supervision.

SEC Alerts Investors, Industry on Cybersecurity

February 3, 2015 Comments off

SEC Alerts Investors, Industry on Cybersecurity
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission today released publications that address cybersecurity at brokerage and advisory firms and provide suggestions to investors on ways to protect their online investment accounts.

One publication, a Risk Alert from the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), contains observations based on examinations of more than 100 broker-dealers and investment advisers. The examinations focused on how these firms:

  • Identify cybersecurity risks
  • Establish cybersecurity policies, procedures, and oversight processes
  • Protect their networks and information
  • Identify and address risks associated with remote access to client information, funds transfer requests, and third-party vendors
  • Detect unauthorized activity

The second publication, an Investor Bulletin issued by the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA), provides core tips to help investors safeguard their online investment accounts, including:

  • Pick a “strong” password
  • Use two-step verification
  • Exercise caution when using public networks and wireless connections

SEC Announces Charges Against Standard & Poor’s for Fraudulent Ratings Misconduct

January 21, 2015 Comments off

SEC Announces Charges Against Standard & Poor’s for Fraudulent Ratings Misconduct
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced a series of federal securities law violations by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services involving fraudulent misconduct in its ratings of certain commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS).

S&P agreed to pay more than $58 million to settle the SEC’s charges, plus an additional $19 million to settle parallel cases announced today by the New York Attorney General’s office ($12 million) and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office ($7 million).

“Investors rely on credit rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s to play it straight when rating complex securities like CMBS,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC Enforcement Division. “But Standard & Poor’s elevated its own financial interests above investors by loosening its rating criteria to obtain business and then obscuring these changes from investors. These enforcement actions, our first-ever against a major ratings firm, reflect our commitment to aggressively policing the integrity and transparency of the credit ratings process.”

SEC Announces 2015 Examination Priorities; Priorities Focus on Protecting Retail Investors, Assessing Market-Wide Risks and Using Data Analytics

January 16, 2015 Comments off

SEC Announces 2015 Examination Priorities; Priorities Focus on Protecting Retail Investors, Assessing Market-Wide Risks and Using Data Analytics
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

the Securities and Exchange Commission today announced its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ (OCIE) priorities for 2015 which focus on three areas: protecting retail investors, especially those saving for or in retirement; assessing market-wide risks; and using data analytics to identify signs of potential illegal activity.

The 2015 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.

The SEC’s Focus on Cybersecurity: Key considerations for investment advisers

September 9, 2014 Comments off

The SEC’s Focus on Cybersecurity: Key considerations for investment advisers
Source: Deloitte

The growing number and complexity of cybersecurity risks facing investment advisers (IAs) has triggered an increased interest in cyber risk management by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Cyber risks and the SEC’s related focus are particularly relevant for mutual funds, hedge funds, and private equity managers.

In this point of view, we outline key considerations arising from the cybersecurity Risk Alert issued by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) and describe how IAs can prepare for an OCIE cybersecurity examination and leading practices for IAs to utilize when addressing cybersecurity threats.

Deloitte expects the SEC and its staff to continue to focus on cybersecurity, particularly as the results of a planned sweep of fifty cybersecurity exams unfold. It is critical that IAs not only meet SEC expectations in the cybersecurity arena, but also invest in a program to become secure, vigilant, and resilient in the face of cybersecurity risks.

SEC Warns Investors About Marijuana-Related Investments Amid Recent Trading Suspensions

May 16, 2014 Comments off

SEC Warns Investors About Marijuana-Related Investments Amid Recent Trading Suspensions
Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission today cautioned investors about the potential for fraud in microcap companies that claim their operations relate to the marijuana industry after the agency suspended trading in the fifth such company within the past two months.

The SEC issued an investor alert warning about possible scams involving marijuana-related investments, noting that fraudsters often exploit the latest growth industry to lure investors with the promise of high returns. “For marijuana-related companies that are not required to report with the SEC, investors may have limited information about the company’s management, products, services, and finances,” the SEC’s alert says. “When publicly available information is scarce, fraudsters can more easily spread false information about a company, making profits for themselves while creating losses for unsuspecting investors.”

Spearheaded by its Microcap Fraud Task Force, the SEC Enforcement Division scours the microcap market and proactively identifies companies with publicly disseminated information that appears inadequate or potentially inaccurate. The SEC has the authority to issue trading suspensions against such companies while the questionable activity is further investigated.

New From the GAO

April 17, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Information Security: SEC Needs to Improve Controls over Financial Systems and Data. GAO-14-419, April 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-419
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662614.pdf

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