SEC advice rule proposal assailed by former agency economists

Letter cites proposal's 'weak and incomplete' economic analysis

Feb 11, 2019 @ 10:08 am

By Bloomberg News

The Securities and Exchange Commission plan for overhauling broker conflict-of-interest rules is coming under fire from an unusual source: a group of its former top economists.

In a sharply worded comment letter, 11 former SEC officials faulted the proposal released last April under the direction of Chairman Jay Clayton, citing what they called "weak and incomplete" economic analysis.

"We find it worrisome that the proposal's economic analysis does not fully consider some potentially important dimensions of the retail client-adviser relationship," the officials wrote in the letter dated Feb. 6.

Mr. Clayton has made completing the regulation, which would replace an overturned Labor Department measure, a top priority and held meetings around the country last year to hear from investors. He's said he's open to changes as progressives have argued that the proposal didn't go far enough and critics from both parties have said the "best interest" obligation it would impose is too vague.

The current proposal "seems to fall short of the best attainable analysis, and we are concerned about the commission's reputation for doing careful economic policy analysis," the former SEC officials wrote in their letter. "We encourage the commission to do better."

A spokeswoman for Mr. Clayton didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

(More: Best the SEC can do or huge step backward? Industry leaders tussle over advice reform)

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