State securities regulators have increased the number of investigations of RIAs and broker-dealers in 2017 compared to the year prior, but the amount of fines they doled out plummeted, according to a recent report from the North American Securities Administrators Association.
In all, state securities watchdogs conducted 4,790 investigations last year, compared to 4,341 in 2016 and 4,112 in 2015, the report found. There was also a bump in the number of overall enforcement actions by state securities regulators, from 2,017 in 2016 to 2,105 in 2017, NASAA found.
But the regulators levied just $79 million in fines and penalties last year, compared to $682 million in 2016, $230 million in 2015, $536 million in 2015 and $174 million in 2014, according to NASAA, which adds in a footnote that the “method for reporting fines/penalties data was modified beginning with the data collected in 2016.”
There were $71 million in fines and penalties ordered in 2013, according to the report.
Nonetheless, the amount of restitution state regulators ordered paid back more than doubled, from $231 million to $486 million, NASAA says. What’s more, the amount of prison time combined with probation ordered as a result of the enforcements rose from 1,346 years in 2016 to 1,985 years last year, according to the report.
In addition, last year was the first when there were more RIA respondents in state enforcement actions than broker-dealer firms, NASAA says.
Regulators named 377 RIAs and their representatives in enforcement actions in 2017, 32% higher than the year prior, according to the report.
Meanwhile, broker-dealers and their agents were named in 270 state securities enforcement actions, an 11% drop from the year prior, NASAA says.