May 14, 2007
SEC Will Ask D.C. Circuit to Stay FPA v. SEC Decision
The brokerage firms were lobbying the SEC hard to file an en banc petition for reconsideration of the D.C. Circuit's FPA v. SEC (invalidating the SEC rule exempting brokers that offered fee-based accounts from regulation as investment advisers), and in a recent speech Commissioner Atkins expressed the view that the SEC should. However, today it announced it would not. Instead, it is asking the court for a stay of the decision. Here are some excerpts:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it will ask a court to allow four months for investors and their brokers to respond in light of a court decision affecting an estimated one million fee-based brokerage accounts. In asking for a 120-day stay of the ruling ... the Commission announced it will not seek further review of the March 30, 2007 decision that affects customer accounts holding an estimated $300 billion.
"The Commission is committed to taking the opportunity provided by this decision to improve investors' ability to make educated decisions about their investment accounts and their financial services providers," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox.
The Commission suggests that investors carefully consider changes to their accounts. It will consider whether further rulemaking or interpretations are necessary regarding the application of the Advisers Act to these accounts and the issues resulting from the court's decision. The Commission also will work with individual brokerage firms during the transition period as they respond to the March 30 decision. The goal will be to provide customers of the firms with the information and time they need to determine the appropriate form of securities services for them.
Chairman Cox also announced that he has approved additional emergency funding to accelerate an on-going outside study of the marketing, sale, and delivery of financial products and services to investors in this area. The previously-commissioned study, by the RAND Corporation, will be delivered to the Commission no later than December 2007, several months ahead of schedule. The results of the study are expected to provide an important empirical foundation for considering improvements in regulatory and legislative rules that date back to the 1930s.
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