SEC Chairman Jay Clayton says agency initiatives would help investors research advisers' backgrounds

He doesn't provide details, but says that he shares SEC Investor Advisory Committee's desire to help older investors know their advisers

Jun 22, 2017 @ 2:46 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said on Thursday that the agency is working on initiatives to help investors research financial advisers' backgrounds.

In remarks before the SEC Investor Advisory Committee, Mr. Clayton said that the group's input will guide him as he sets the agency's agenda. One of the committee's recommendations he highlighted was to make it easier for investors to use databases containing adviser profiles. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. maintains BrokerCheck, while the SEC runs the Investment Adviser Registration Depository. The commitee believes the two databases could be integrated better.

"I also share your interests that our Main Street investors, particularly older investors, have the tools they need to make informed investment decisions," Mr. Clayton told the IAC at a meeting at SEC headquarters in Washington. "My office recently had the chance to follow up with staff on this topic, and I was pleased to hear that they have a number of efforts under way to simplify and enhance the tools available to help investors conduct background searches on their investment professionals and make informed decisions."

SEC Investor Advocate Rick Fleming said that investors should dig through adviser profiles before hiring them. "We want to make it as easy as possible for people to have access to that kind of important information," Mr. Fleming said on the sidelines of the IAC meeting.

Mr. Clayton, who took the helm of the SEC in May, reiterated what he told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing: He will emphasize enforcement.

"[D]etecting and punishing fraud, particularly against retail investors, is a high priority for me," Mr. Clayton said. "I am also working with the staff on initiatives to educate investors on ways in which they can prevent themselves from becoming victims of fraud."

Mr. Clayton did not speak to reporters as he left the meeting. His spokesman didn't provide details on the SEC staff work.

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