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SEC seeks expansion of SRO oversight

Proposal would narrow exemption from FINRA for prop trading firms

By James Langton

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing rule changes that would require more broker-dealers to belong to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA).

The proposed changes would revise an exemption originally adopted in 1976 to allow floor brokers to occasionally trade off exchange without triggering self-regulatory organization (SRO) membership requirements, but is now used for firms to engage in unlimited prop trading without joining FINRA.

“Nearly half a century later, our markets have drastically changed. The floor-based trading environment that existed when this exemption was adopted has given way to complex, high-volume and cross-exchange electronic trading,” said SEC chairman Gary Gensler in a statement.

As a result, there are firms that trade tens of billions of dollars worth of securities each month without oversight from FINRA.

Requiring these firms to join the industry SRO, which has the ability to provide cross-market surveillance, will enhance regulatory oversight, the SEC suggested.

“By extending FINRA oversight to potentially dozens of broker-dealers, the proposed amendments would strengthen oversight of firms trading securities across several markets, helping to protect investors and maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets,” Gensler said.

The proposal will be out for a 60-day comment period once it’s published in the Federal Register.

Source: Investment Executive