(Bloomberg) -- Some brokers might be violating rules that require them to get the best prices for clients when they send stock orders to exchanges that offer rebates, regulators said in an outline of oversight priorities.
Recent exams that reviewed how brokerages decide where to send trades found that “some firms do not have active best- execution committees or other supervisory structures,” the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said today in an letter stating its 2015 exam topics. Brokers’ failures could lead to clients getting prices inferior to the best bid or offer in the market, the industry-funded regulator said.
Finra said the findings would allow it to judge whether firms based order-routing decisions on self-interest rather than “quality of execution they receive for customer orders.”
The practice of paying brokers to lure orders has attracted the scrutiny of lawmakers and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A hearing led by Senator Carl Levin in June grilled TD Ameritrade Holding over its practice of selling retail orders to wholesalers.
Finra said today that it also will launch a pilot program this year focused on fixed-income markets, including operations of electronic bond-trading platforms. The effort will look at how firms comply with rules for “books and records, supervision and order execution practices,” FINRA said.
Brokers’ sales of alternative mutual funds, structured retail products and bank-loan mutual funds also will come under scrutiny this year, FINRA said. The regulator said it found some brokers aren’t adequately reviewing new alternative-mutual funds, which mimic riskier hedge-fund strategies.
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