Ketchum says Finra is backing off adviser oversight: Report

Regulator's CEO says chances of success are thin but agrees that adviser oversight needs improvement

Apr 10, 2014 @ 11:12 am

Finra chairman and chief executive officer Richard G. Ketchum said the regulator is no longer interested in expanding its oversight to financial advisers.

"We've have done the Sisyphus climb" to be given authority over investment advisers, Mr. Ketchum told The Wall Street Journal Thursday. "We are not pursuing it at the present time."

Currently, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. oversees brokers while the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates registered investment advisers.

"We don't perceive any likelihood that it would be successful," Mr. Ketchum told the newspaper, referring to the regulator's efforts, which began in 2012 when it made a strong push for congressional approval of a bill that would shift financial adviser oversight.

(See also: Investment adviser lobbyist: Finra will renew effort to become adviser SRO)

Advisers resisted the legislation, fearing that Finra, an industry-funded regulator, would fill the role and the measure died. Finra backed down when the new Congress convened last year and the champion of the SRO bill, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., relinquished his seat as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Ketchum reiterated the regulator's belief that adviser oversight should be increased, telling the newspaper that Congress should provide the SEC with the resources necessary to increase adviser examinations. The SEC examines about 8% of the nearly 11,000 registered investment advisers each year.

Mr. Ketchum told the newspaper that such light oversight "creates issues from the standpoint of everything from classic Ponzi schemes to abuse."

Over the past two years, Finra has maintained that it wasn't mounting a lobbying campaign to become the adviser SRO and didn't engaged in talks with the House or Senate.

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