The SEC Office of the Investor Advocate ("OIA") identified "problematic products or practices" and summarized steps the agency and self-regulatory organizations took to respond to investor concerns during the past year.
In a "Report on Activities," the OIA Investor Advocate identified "potentially problematic products or practices during Fiscal Year 2018" as reported by the SEC, NASAA, FINRA and the MSRB. These include, among others: (i) initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency and blockchain; (ii) a variety of scams and schemes (related to, e.g., regulator impersonations, Ponzi schemes, natural disasters and investments in "unicorns," binary options, oil and gas, marijuana, microcap stocks and real estate, among others); (iii) cybersecurity; (iv) investment fees and expenses; (v) suitability of wrap fee programs; (vi) registrations of third-party providers, marketers and gatekeepers; (vii) a variety of risks (e.g., trading on margin, data aggregation, disclosure, and use of credit cards); and (viii) other practices (e.g., pennying and prearranged trading in connection with primary offerings).
In the report, the OIE focused on five key policy areas: public company disclosure, equity market structure, municipal market reform, accounting and auditing, and fiduciary duty.
On some of the broader policy questions, the OIA:
Investor Advocate Rick A. Fleming recounted specific steps the OIA took to address investor concerns. The OIA:
Mr. Fleming also stated that budgetary constraints affected some 2018 initiatives, including the agency's failure to "build out" the Ombudsman role and certain research functions.
The SEC Office of the Investor Advocate identified nine areas of focus for fiscal year 2019 including, among other things, standards of conduct for broker-dealers and investment advisers, public company disclosure and fixed income market reform.
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