SEC Announces Examination Priorities For 2015; Focus On Transfer Agents, Investment Advisers and Broker Dealers

On January 13, 2015, the SEC published its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) priorities for 2015.  The OCIE examines and reviews a wide variety of financial institutions, including investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, transfer agents, clearing agencies and national securities exchanges. 

The priorities this year have a primary focus on (i) protecting retail investors, especially those saving for retirement; (ii) assessing market-wide risks; and (iii) using data analytics to identify signs of potential illegal activity.  In addition, the SEC will examine municipal advisers, proxy services, never-before-examined investment companies, fees and expenses in private equity and transfer agents. 

Transfer agents and broker-dealers will be scrutinized for potential claims of engaging in or aiding and abetting pump-and-dump or market manipulation schemes.

The SEC shares its annual examination priorities as a heads-up and to encourage industry participants to conduct independent reviews and make efforts for increased compliance, prior to an SEC examination, investigation or potential enforcement proceeding.  Moreover, the SEC chooses