Following closely on the heels of FINRA’s publication of its examination priorities for 2014 (see our recent client alert), OCIE’s National Exam Program (NEP) released a summary of its 2014 priorities. OCIE’s priorities represent a cross-divisional effort at the SEC and reflect the staff’s assessment of information including:

  • data from reports filed with the SEC;
  • data gathered in the course of examinations;
  • whistleblower tips;
  • data retrieved from third-party databases;
  • tips and communications from other regulators, including those outside the U.S.; and
  • interactions with registrants, industry groups and service providers outside of the examination process.

The summary includes market-wide priorities as well as examination focuses related to investment advisers/investment companies, broker-dealers, transfer agents and other market participants. Across the board, it is clear that in 2014 the examination staff will focus on conflicts of interest and registrants’ controls designed to identify and mitigate such conflicts. Broker-dealers and investment advisers should carefully evaluate their compliance programs in light of that focus to ensure that they have adopted compliance programs designed to ensure that transactions occur in the best interests of investors.

A summary of key priorities relevant to broker-dealers and investment advisers, and our take on how registrants should address those priorities, can be found in our client alert.