Several major elements of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law are still in flux — the application fiduciary standard among them — but for investment advisors with less than $100 million in assets under management, concrete changes are at hand.
That’s when those advisors will be required to register with and be examined by state securities regulators, instead of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
To help advisors prepare for the switch, the North American Securities Administrators Association launched an online resource center to inform advisors about the change, and help them execute it.
NASAA estimates that the new law will affect 4,000 investment advisors. The migration will happen specifically on July 21, when the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act takes effect. After that, according to NASAA advisors can expect to undergo more frequent and thorough inspections than they experienced when the SEC was their main watchdog.
Indeed, that is the material point of the switch—to lighten the SEC’s load a bit, as it tries to keep closer tabs on the independent investment advisor population. Previously, the SEC provided oversight for advisors with less than $25 million in assets under management.
States have varying examination schedules and programs, according to Joseph Brady, deputy general counsel for NASAA. Some examine advisors on a one- to three-year cycle, while others have longer exam cycles. They also do for-cause inspections whenever they get investor complaints or tip offs. “Also, IAs with a problematic regulatory history will be examined more frequently,” Brady said in an email response.
As for how state regulators will handle the increased responsibility for oversight, NASAA is developing new examination tools for examiners, adding new components to investment advisor training and distance learning for staff, Brady said. Also, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed a memorandum of understanding formalizing cooperation among the states specific to the regulation of investment advisors.
Some states are adding new staff to prepare to the increased supervisory duties, Brady said. The Office of Insurance and Financial Regulation in Michigan, for instance, is looking to add six more staff members to handle the bigger workload.
The NASAA’s online resource center is fairly straightforward. It has background information about the process, a directory of state contacts, and a section for frequently asked questions.
Advisors can access the IA Switch Resource Center here.