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SEC May Speed Up Vote on Regulation Best Interest

September 13, 2018

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton may opt to push through the commission’s Regulation Best Interest proposal with just three votes, according to InvestmentNews.

The Senate has confirmed Elad Roisman to take over the seat vacated by Republican Commissioner Michael Piwowar, who left the commission in July, the publication writes. Currently, the SEC has all five members but Democratic Commissioner Kara Stein’s term ended last year and she’s scheduled to depart in December, according to InvestmentNews. The Trump administration has yet to act on nominating Allison Lee, a former SEC enforcement official forwarded to the White House as Stein’s replacement, the publication writes.

Since the confirmation process can take months, the SEC may end up in 2019 with just four members, according to InvestmentNews.

Meanwhile, if the Democrats take over the House of Representatives and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairs the House Financial Services Committee, legislators are likely to pressure the SEC to revise the regulations to better protect investors, the publication writes. Therefore, Clayton may want to go ahead with the rule as soon as he confirms he can get three votes, InvestmentNews writes.

That too has its challenges, however, according to the publication. Stein voted against even just putting out the SEC’s proposal for public comment, InvestmentNews writes. And Democratic Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr. and Republican Commissioner Hester Peirce, while voting in favor of the public comment, nonetheless expressed reservations.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear whether Roisman supports the regulations as they stand, InvestmentNews writes. Clayton will have to convince the commissioners to get on board, Scott Kimpel, a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth who was once counsel to former SEC member Troy Paredes, tells the publication.

“[Clayton’s] challenge is going to be to find any majority he can get,” he tells InvestmentNews.

Jay Clayton

Getting enough votes could push the final ruling into 2019 — and there’s a chance it will be revised significantly, particularly the section pertaining to the client relationship summary, Neil Simon, vice president for government relations at the Investment Adviser Association, tells the publication.

However, Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, tells FA-IQ that the final version of the regulation is most likely going to be very similar to the proposed version – with ambiguity around the definition of best interest and requiring as little as possible from brokers when it comes to disclosures.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the InvestmentNews article cited in this story, click here.