Friday, October 30, 2020

Regulators Want ESG Funds to Justify their Strategies

Author: David Schwartz

Today the Department of Labor (DOL) issued final rules clarifying the regulatory guideposts for fiduciaries of private-sector retirement and other employee benefit plans in light of recent trends involving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. The DOL is not the only regulator with ESG funds in their cross-hairs. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun verifying asset managers’ and mutual funds’ ESG strategies through examination and is considering amending the mutual fund “name test rule” to ensure funds are living up to their ESG promises to shareholders.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Regulatory Actions Drive Lasting Change

New SEC Chairman Sets Out His Regulatory Vision

Author: David Schwartz

In his first address as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton reaffirmed his dedication to the Commission’s guiding principles and historic approach to regulation. At the same time, however, Chairman Clayton said he sees areas where the SEC’s regulations need to evolve to "reflect the realities of our capital markets.” One of these realities is that implementing regulatory change has costs, and over time cumulative regulation and the associated costs can drive behavior that has dramatic effects on the market.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beefing Up Public Company Audit Reports

New Standards for Public Company Audit Disclosure

Author: David Schwartz

On June 1, 2017, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) voted to adopt new standards for public company audit reports. The new auditing standard, AS 3101, is the result of nearly eight years of work by the PCAOB with members of the public accounting profession, regulators, academics, and investor groups. If approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, this new standard will change the scope of the current auditor’s report. AS 3101 retains the unqualified versus qualified (pass versus fail) opinion of the existing auditor's report, but makes significant changes to the auditor's report by adding a new section highlighting what the PCAOB calls “critical audit matters” (CAM). Adding CAM to audit opinions is intended to better highlight key areas of risk information to reduce the information asymmetry between users of a company’s financial statement and the company's management.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

SEC Chief Plans a Defiant Departure

Author: David Schwartz

SEC Chair Mary Jo White is not sticking around at the SEC after the inauguration next month. But she does not plan to be idle in her remaining time at the Commission. In a pointed response to an earlier request by GOP senators to stop issuing new rules called for by Dodd-Frank, White has vowed to push ahead with a list of open regulatory matters.  Chairman White’s letter strikes a defiant tone and asserts the necessary and statutory independence of the SEC from political meddling.   

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reforming the Asset Management Industry is a Global Challenge

Author: David Schwartz

SEC Chairman Mary Jo White used the occasion of her keynote speech a the September 21, 2016 International Bar Association’s annual conference to address some the challenges the Securities and Exchange Commission faces in regulating an ever more global asset management industry.  With U.S.-registered asset managers increasing their activities in Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific, the SEC has partnered with IOSCO, the FSB, and others to take transformative steps to modernize regulation of the asset management industry on a more global scale.

 

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