(4). SEC to seek fiduciary standard for broker-dealers
The conventional wisdom is that Trump appointees will remove, rather than add, new regulatory requirements, but there are a few critical areas that belie this expectation. For example, Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has expressed a strong commitment to tackle the fiduciary standard for brokers in 2018. The Department of Labor recently delayed until mid-2019 the implementation of key provisions of its fiduciary rule that applies to transactions with retirement account clients. The delay provides breathing room for coordination on a consistent approach by the two agencies. Look for possible complications, however, due to the arrival of two new commissioners at the SEC this year, each of whom may have very different views of the necessity and impact of moving from a suitability to a fiduciary standard for brokers.
(5). More enforcement actions related to virtual currencies
We expect the explosion of public interest in the trading of virtual currencies and virtual-currency-related products to continue. US regulators spent much of the second half of 2017 actively focused on these products and the regulatory issues they raised. The SEC, CFTC and state regulators all warned the public of the potential risks of trading in these products. While agencies brought enforcement actions in instances of clear fraud or manipulation, for the most part their efforts have been focused on clarifying the scope of their authority and the application of their regulations to these activities. We believe this approach is likely to shift very quickly and sharply as the regulators pivot to an enforcement mode. Market participants, particularly those involved in offering or selling unregistered securities or who deal in these products without the necessary licences, will be much more likely to face enforcement action than in the past.