Schapiro reprimands broker-dealers over remuneration

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WASHINGTON, DC - The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mary Schapiro, has sent an open letter to US-regulated broker-dealers reminding them of their obligations to prevent abuses in sales practices fuelled by inappropriate bonus structures.

Schapiro's letter is in response to media reports that some broker-dealers have been engaging in recruitment programmes promising large bonuses and enhanced commissions.

"Recent press articles have reported that some broker-dealer firms may be engaging in a vigorous recruiting programme for broker-dealer registered representatives, including large up-front bonuses and enhanced commissions for sales of investment products," wrote Schapiro in the letter, noting chief executives have an obligation to police their policies for conflicts. "Certain forms of potential compensation may carry with them enhanced risks to customers," the letter continued.

Schapiro warns such compensation structures could lead representatives to believe they need to sell securities at a "sufficiently high level" to justify special arrangements they have received and that pressure could "create incentives to engage in conduct that may violate obligations to investors and lead to the sale of unsuitable investment products".

Click here to read the letter.

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