On November 15, 2017, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement issued its Annual Report for 2017. The Report summarizes the Enforcement cases of 2017 and discusses the Division’s priorities under Co-Directors Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin.
The Division listed five major focus areas under its new leadership:
- Focus on Main Street and harm caused to retail investors via a Retail Strategy Task Force
- Focus on individual accountability and “naming names”
- Technological change – new Cyber Unit focuses on cyber intrusions, the dark web, and cryptocurrencies
- Impose sanctions that fit new goals
- Allocate resources effectively
- 754 enforcement actions
- 446 standalone actions; a record $1.07 billion returned to harmed investors
- 20% of the standalone cases involved investment advisers
- 73% of standalone cases involved individuals
- $3.789 billion in disgorgement and penalties
The main take-away from this report is the continued larger focus on harm to retail investors. Those advisers that practice within the retail space should take heed, as any wrongdoing may be met with the threat of Enforcement action not only to the firm, but to the firm’s principals as well.