Rep Waters Looks To Block Reg BI Funding

Regulation Best Interest might not get the best enforcement – if it gets enforcement at all.

U.S. representative Rep. Waters, if she gets her way, placed an amendment onto the financial services bill that will block funds that would provide enforcement of the controversial and recently passed regulation. The amendment placed on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of 2020, H.R. 3351, passed committee two weeks ago and passed a simple floor vote last week.

Reg BI was approved by the SEC on June 5.

Her amendment, No. 78, to the bill, prohibits the SEC from “implementing, administering, enforcing or publicizing the final rules and interpretations” of Reg BI, “The Broker-Dealer Standard of Conduct.”

As reported by Think Advisor, the Insured Retirement Institute said it opposes Waters’ amendment, stating that Reg BI “should move forward and be given time to work. The just-approved regulation will offer a substantial enhancement to investor protections over current law.”

IRI argued that the new requirements on the broker-dealer industry “are considerable and the existing enforcement mechanisms applicable to Reg BI are rigorous.” Reg BI, the annuity group said, “and parallel efforts at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners offer an opportunity for regulatory harmonization. This is particularly important as a number of states pursue standard of conduct regulations that threaten to impose a patchwork of confusing, conflicting requirements that may harm consumers’ ability to obtain services to help them reach their financial goals.”

Waters, along with several other Democrats have been open in their disdain for Reg BI. Upon passage of Reg BI, she said the Securities and Exchange Commission regulation package (of which Reg BI was included) fell short by failing to require all financial advisors to adhere to “a strong, uniform fiduciary standard of care when providing investors with investment advice. She then called on the SEC to rescind Reg BI.

Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr. President and CEO

Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr.
President and CEO

In a written response, SIFMA said the so-called “Waters Amendment” to defund Reg BI would undermine investor protection. Kenneth Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA president and CEO, expressing strong opposition to Waters Amendment #78.

“Reg BI is the most comprehensive enhancement of standard of conduct rules governing broker-dealers since the enactment of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934,” Bensten began. “The rule materially and unalterably raises that standard consistent with Section 913 of the Dodd Frank Act. As promulgated, brokers must be compliant by June 30, 2020. It makes no sense to halt the orderly implementation of this important new set of regulations that would provide strong investor and consumer protections for forty-three million households.”

SIFMA sent a letter urging Members of Congress to vote ‘no’ on the amendment, which can be found in its entirety here.

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