Obama Wants Budget Boost for SEC and CFTC

sec-budget-compliance

President Obama is using the last months of his presidency to offer a budget boost that can impact financial market regulatory initiatives via government agencies SEC and CFTC.

As reported first by Law360, the budget boost for SEC and the CFTC envisions more auditors, more investigators, more enforcement staff. That said, according to one industry source who spoke off the record with BrokerDealer.com, “The SEC vision of using the increased budget to add 127 new staffers to Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations is illustrative of the agency’s dedication to making their bureaucracy more bureaucratic, and even less efficient than it already is. Sounds like just more bodies tripping over their own shoes and tying up industry members with paper clips.”

Law360, New York (February 9, 2016, 11:14 PM ET) — A pair of Wall Street regulators on Tuesday laid out their wish lists for how to spend their budget bumps that President Barack Obama floated for fiscal year 2017, with eyes on ramping up enforcement and examination staffs to meet the demands of the Dodd-Frank Act and growing complexity of the markets.

Under Obama’s plan, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would see its budget expand to $1.8 billion, an 11 percent increase, for the next fiscal year starting Sept. 30 while the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission would grow to $330 million, a 32 percent bump. His economic adviser, Jeffrey Zients, said on Monday this amounted a “down payment” toward a long-range goal of doubling both agencies’ budgets by 2021.

In separate budget requests, both the SEC and the CFTC said they want to vastly expand their headcount and ramp up their spending on information technology to deal with emerging gaps and nagging shortcomings in their oversight.

“The SEC appreciates the confidence that Congress and the President have placed in it in recent appropriation cycles,
with enacted budgets that are permitting the SEC to begin to address longstanding resource challenges,” officials at the agency wrote. “In light of the continuing growth in the industry and the enormity of the responsibilities now placed on the agency, however, additional funding is critical,” they added.

Nonetheless, the SEC said it would take that money to add about 250 full- and part-time staffers, bringing its budgeted headcount up to just under 5,200 budgeted positions. The vast majority of these new positions, or 127, would be earmarked for the agency’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, where they would focus primarily on conducting investment adviser examinations.

For years, the SEC has struggled to examine more than 10 percent of the nearly 12,000 registered investment advisers under its watch, and about 40 percent of such firms have never been examined. Even with the proposed increase in examiner headcount coming out of the fiscal 2017 budget, however, the agency would only get to about 12 percent of registere advisers in a given year, the SEC noted.

The agency also would like to ramp up enforcement, adding 52 positions to the division. A dozen of those positions would reinforce its litigation efforts, the SEC told Congress.

“This increased allocation will enable the SEC to litigate any case where it believes admissions of wrongdoing are appropriate under its new policy, if necessary,” SEC officials wrote.

Other units would see more modest gains in headcount. The Division of Corporation Finance would look to gain four more budgeted positions as it expects to contend with an increase in request for guidance from small businesses and investors around the new rules passed out of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act aka JOBS Act such as equity crowdfunding and the so-called Regulation A+.

Over at the CFTC, Chairman Tiimothy Massad said he would use the additional $80 million that the president wants to give his agency to hire 183 full-equivalent staff across its divisions.

“This increase is necessary because the commission has not received budgetary increases sufficient enough to allow full implementation of its responsibilities,” Massad wrote to Congress.

More than a third of the proposed increase would go to bolstering the agency’s information technology infrastructure, Massad said. Within that total is the CFTC’s market surveillance function, which Massad wants to grow to 160 full-time positions, up from the current tally of 104 such positions. Such an increase would help support the agency’s development of automated surveillance and data visualization tools and ramp up its oversight of the uncleared swaps market, among other things.

Beyond that, the enforcement division, which netted the government $2.8 billion in fines during its fiscal 2015, would be a big winner under the CFTC’s proposal. It would add 51 full-time equivalent positions to the 161 such staffers budgeted for the current fiscal year.

“The commission not only has insufficient resources currently, it anticipates more time-intensive and inherently complex investigations due to innovative products and practices within the industry, including the use of automated and high frequency trading,” CFTC officials said.
To read the full story from Law360, click here

The Ticker Licker-BrokerDealer Market Data Tool

investexcel.net

BrokerDealers, as well as the global universe of  “Wall Street Quant Jocks” who depend on running macros to back test, filter and finesse equities, options, and futures-related trading strategies via .xls should want to interrogate the assortment of tools developed by the folks at InvestExcel.net . Our ‘fav’ of the week is what we call the “Ticker Licker”, provided as courtesy for a 3rd party  project that called for mapping ticker symbols to a master securities file based on International Securities Identification Numbers aka ISIN codes 

Many of the applications courtesy of InvestExcel will need to be sanity-checked for accuracy, but premium services from the company are available. Our database development team here at BrokerDealer.com are happy to endorse this product!

London Brokers Acquited in Libor Trial

brokers-not-guilty-libor-scheme

(FT.com) Five broker-dealers accused of conspiring with Tom Hayes to manipulate the Libor benchmark have been found not guilty in a London court, in a major setback for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

The brokers – Danny Wilkinson and Colin Goodman from ICAP, Noel Cryan from Tullett Prebon and RP Martin’s Jim Gilmour and Terry Farr – stood trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court for about 15 weeks in the SFO’s prosecution over alleged efforts at Libor manipulation. The jury is still considering one count against Darrell Read from ICAP.

Mr Hayes was found guilty of rigging Libor last August, and sentenced to 14 years in prison, though that sentence was later reduced.

Prosecutors alleged the men acted as go-betweens by passing along requests between traders for what number the rate should be set at on a given day. The SFO also alleged that Mr Goodman, in his daily emails, would suggest where he thought Libor would be set that day, and would alter the figure to appease Mr Hayes’s requests.

BrokerDealer.com is the global financial industry’s most comprehensive directory of broker-dealers operating in more than thirty countries throughout the free world

The prosecution also alleged that the brokers, with nicknames such as “Big Nose,” “Lord Libor” and “Sarge,” were rewarded by Mr Hayes, one of their biggest clients because of the volume of trading he conducted, with extra commission for their help.

Broker-Dealers Move Into Crowdfunding

brokerdealers crowdfunding

(WealthManagement.com) A new crop of broker-dealers and funding portals are forming to capitalize on new equity crowdfunding rules.

The total number of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member retail brokerages has been on the decline for the last five years, but one sliver of the universe is showing new signs of life: A new crop of broker/dealers and online funding portals are joining FINRA to capitalize on new opportunities made possible by the JOBS Act of 2012. The legislation prompted the SEC to make it easier to market and solicit investments, and opened the door for small businesses to engage in so-called “equity crowdfunding.”

About 15 to 20 of these new firms have signed on since 2013, according to Fishbowl Strategies, with another three to six launching soon, in anticipation of a wave of issuers and investors entering the market. Whether there is a crowd for equity crowdfunding remains to be seen.

But Paul Boyd, managing partner at ClearPath Capital Partners, a wealth management firm for tech entrepreneurs, says there
is plenty of pent-up demand and a backlog of Reg D deals that are moving forward.

Boyd also expects the next phase of the JOBS Act, Title III, will bring a lot more attention to capital raises online. Set to go into effect in May, those rules let any investor, accredited or not, invest in unregistered securities online (with limits on the amounts that can both be invested, and raised, in a year). The tech-fueled vision of bypassing stuffy financial intermediaries in favor of a new-class of SEC-registered and FINRA member “crowdfunding portals” has inspired a flotilla of startups to enter the space.

Many of the new entrants have affiliated agreements with brokerdealers. Some have launched their own b/ds.

WealthForge launched its own b/d to provide all the services needed to complete a private securities transaction, including investor accreditation, regulatory filings and escrow. Co-founder and CEO Mat Dellorso says the new rules—and bringing the process online—have spurred their growth.

“When you bring the internet and you’re allowed to advertise a private security through 506(c), more investors do take part,” he says. WealthForge has completed 150 private financing transactions, bringing in 2,500 investors. “A traditional investment bank might complete three or five a year,” he says. “It’s a lot more volume because it’s more transparent and online now.

“Normally these transactions take weeks and months, but an investor can literally invest in a private placement on our platform in a matter of minutes,” he says.

Dellorso doubts they will do much work with firms looking to raise capital through the exemptions for non-accredted investors.

CircleUp is another new broker-dealer with a focus on consumer products and retail companies. Bhakti Chai, which makes Fair Trade Certified tea, raised nearly $865,000 on the platform.

Folio Institutional, a self-clearing broker/dealer, saw the interest around equity crowdfunding and decided to launch an online equity and debt-funding platform in September. Since the firm can custody the securities, it can enage in secondary-market transactions and, potentially, public offerings.

For the entire article from WealthManagement.com please click here

Frmr Top BrokerDealer Babe Meets Bitcoin

blythe masters

(MarketsMuse.com)–Blythe Masters, once considered the “Babe of BrokerDealers” in view of her long tenure at investment bank JPMorgan—which included her being credited for helping to create credit default swaps (CDS), has since aspired to be known as the Blockchain Batgirl through her new role as CEO of the bitcoin-buttressed startup Digital Asset Holdings.

Despite the fact Ms. Masters is undeniably a bona fide member of any Masters of the Universe Club (sic Tom Wolfe/Bonfire of the Vanities)—and however much “blockchain technology” has inspired a cadre of banks and broker-dealers to get on board a train that could evolutionize the financial industry at large, and despite a potential death-knell magazine cover story in October of this year courtesy of Bloomberg Magazine, Masters’ foray into the world of fintech startup funding is proving to be bumpy at best, as the blue ocean this blue-eyed blonde s is swimming in is already populated with migrant banker’s bodies floating ashore and otherwise left beside the yellow-brick road to billion dollar Unicorn valuations.

Notes NY Times business news journalist Nathaniel Popper—one of the 4th estate’s leading bitcoin industry experts, Digital Asset Holdings is running into the types of startup funding challenges that mostly all mortals encounter when pitching ideas scrapped from a whiteboard: questionable valuation, untested technology value proposition, a highly-fragmented and often dysfunctional target audience, and last but not least, an investment structure that is being increasingly challenged for giving preferential ownership treatment to a select group of early investors. In this case, Digital Asset Holdings is providing a very sweet deal and a very exclusive suite of follow-on round financing options to its anchor investor, which happens to be her former employer, JPMorgan.

To continue reading the story courtesy of MarketsMuse.com, please click here