In April 2018, the SEC proposed a new regulation that would govern the standard of conduct that applies when broker-dealers make recommendations to retail customers. Specifically, the proposal sought to established an express best interest obligation that would require all broker-dealers and associated persons to act in the best interests of their retail customers at the time a recommendation is made without placing the financial or other interests of the broker-dealer or associated person ahead of the interests of the retail customer.
At the time, the Commission received over 6,000 comments on the proposed rule. Ultimately, in July 2019, the SEC adopted Rule 15l-1(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Reg BI”). On June 15, 2022, the SEC filed the first complaint for a violation of Reg BI since it was enacted. The SEC filed a complaint against Western International Securities, Inc. (“Western”) and five of its registered representatives for violating Reg BI in connection with the sale of high risk, illiquid and unrated debt securities known as L Bonds issued by GWG Holdings, Inc. (“GWG”).
Compliance with Reg BI consists of four components: the Disclosure Obligation, the Care Obligation, Conflict of Interest Obligation, and the Compliance Obligation. Registered representatives must comply with the Disclosure Obligation and the Care Obligation, which include: