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Friday, October 12, 2007

SEC Adviser: Soft Dollars Not Going to Make a Disappearing Act

Reported by Erin Kello

At the ICI conference on equity, fixed-income and derivative markets at the Marriott Financial Center Hotel in downtown New York City this morning, Tom Smith, senior adviser to investment management director Andrew Donohue, devoted some time to discuss soft dollars.

Smith, who was a partner with the New York office of law firm Sidley Austin LLP before joining the SEC in June, said that the soft dollars issue is back on the front burner after chairman Cox received a friendly reminder from Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that something needed to be done.

The main issue the SEC is looking at in regards to soft dollars is conflict of interest. "We want to understand what products and services are being provided in the exchange," Smith explained.

Repealing 28(e), the section that governs soft dollars, is not the answer, according to Smith. "We aim purely to provide guidance to fund boards," Smith said, "The objective is to not freeze things where they stand now."

The SEC hopes to have a new proposal on soft dollars out by the end of the year, Smith said, barring any other market emergencies such as the recent sub-prime mess.  

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