This month, Arkansas Securities Commissioner A. Heath Abshure wraps up his one-year term as president of the North American Securities Administrators Association. He spoke with Associate Editor Mason Braswell about what he accomplished, what is left on the table and the next steps for the organization, which includes regulators from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
1. What's the role of state securities regulators? Expanding the role of state securities regulators is a big focus. Right now, the only jurisdiction that is truly our own is state-registered investment advisors. We share oversight of broker-dealers with the SEC and FINRA. We want to prove to the industry and law makers that state securities regulators are the most effective, efficient and appropriate regulator in a number of different areas like small offerings, small RIAs and small broker-dealers. The SEC is charged with being the primary regulator of public offerings, all broker-dealers, the markets, as well as the small one-owner business raising $500,000. The identities and needs of those groups is so drastically different that one regulator can't be expected to be a reasonable regulator for all of those. In the past year, the 'IA switch,' as it's known, gave us more authority. Advisors with between $25 million to $100 million in assets were switched back to state jurisdiction from the SEC. It was probably the biggest administrative move that I can remember, and it was very successful. The states moved in as soon as possible to look at those new advisors who renewed state registration. Many had never been subject to regulatory review at all. Our focus was not to bring a bunch of fines or cases but to help those companies move over to a state system of regulation. Then we came in with the compliance exam to identify problems that needed to be corrected.
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