On Jan. 7, the SEC announced the publication of the annual Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) 2020 Examination Priorities. In addition to the examination priorities themselves, the 28-page publication includes statistics related to OCIE’s 2019 examination program, touting OCIE’s completion of over 3,000 examinations covering ~15% of registered investment advisers and verification of 31 million investor accounts aggregating over $1.5 trillion in fiscal year 2019. The examination priorities themselves are a mix of perennial classics (conflicts of interest, fee and expense disclosures, never-before/not-recently-examined advisers, market infrastructure, a focus on FINRA and the MSRB), potential new hits and more recent additions (digital assets, electronic investment advice), and exams focused on newly adopted regulations (Regulation Best Interest, the interpretation of investment adviser standard of care, Form CRS).

As further discussions and guidance develop, and the staff clarifies its approach to these topics, we will be issuing clarifying GT Alerts providing guidance to our readers on the SEC staff issues and priorities identified in the release.