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Thursday, March 30, 2006

SEC Still Pondering Late Trading Regs

Reported by Marie Glancy

The Securities and Exchange Commission is not finished with the late trading issue, and plans to renew efforts towards finalizing regulations on the matter by the end of this year.

This information is contained in the body's 2007 performance budget, which, along with a similar document for 2006, is available on the Commission's Web site. An SEC spokesperson could not provide the issue date of either publication.

As part of its efforts to "sustain a flexible and effective regulatory environment," the Commission also intends to codify rules on a number of other highly charged issues, including point-of-sale disclosure and confirmation requirements, disclosure rules pertaining to soft dollars, electronic proxy statement delivery, and whether to make mandatory the interactive data (XBRL) rules already adopted on a voluntary basis in 2005.

The documents reveal how thoroughly SEC plans are subject to change. For example, final action on late action trading was on the agenda in 2005, but the reported results show no action was taken. Now the Commission has set finalization as a goal for 2006, with 2007 designated as the implementation period. Point-of-sale disclosure requirements were also meant to take shape in 2005, but the SEC instead reopened its comment period last year. It now plans to re-propose a solution in 2006 and take final action on the issue next year.

Such delays come as no surprise, given the complexity of the problems under consideration. Indeed, the SEC notes that its rulemaking agenda "may change, perhaps substantially, in response to market developments and evolving agency priorities."

The 2007 performance budget also shows the SEC will continue with proposals on reforming the fund and adviser disclosure regimes in 2006, with final action planned for 2007. It appears that changes to Rule 12b-1, however, are no longer being weighed.

Meanwhile, the Commission expects to cut back on its examinations of investment companies in 2006 and 2007. Having looked at almost 800 in 2004, it foresees only 350 check-ups in each of the two coming calendar years. It expects its checks on investment advisors to remain at a steady 1500 per annum.  

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