Compliance officers have been facing more scrutiny from the SEC, which is short hand for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part of this comes from Helane Morrison becoming the district chief of the Commission.
Morrison joined the firm in 2007. She first served as head of the San Francisco branch of the SEC. Before that, she helped with enforcement in the same branch. Then, she represented the SEC in the legal, business, and financial communities. She is one of the first women to serve as the district chief of the SEC. Only three other women are on the administration teams – acting as the administrator of the Pacific Region in LA, the SEC Midwest region director, and the director of the northeast region of NYC.
Furthermore, she has quite a reputation. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism a Northwestern University, and a J.D from the University of California in Berkley. In Berkley, she was the editor-in-chief of the California Law Review.
In her new role at Hall Capital, Morrison will be picking up slack with compliance officers. These are the people who make sure the rules that the SEC has laid out are followed in business practice, and not pushed aside. Many are facing increasing scrutiny about when they avoid a close call and when a decision crosses what is supposed to be a very clear line in their ethics.
Two high profile cases that illustrate the scrutiny have been tried in 2015. One deals with BlackRock and one of their compliance officers. The officer failed to disclose outside business interests, and then had to pay a $60,000 fee. Policies were not in place to address having to disclose these interests to the board and to clients.
The other case involves SFX Financial Advisory Management Enterprises. THey were found guilty of failing to prevent a misappropriation of client assets. The CCO paid $25,000 to settle fees, and the company paid $150,000 for the same purpose. No matter what kind of issue arises, the compliance officers often take the hit for it.
To avoid it, the SEC is deciding to do it. They are debating taking compliance officers to a review at set points during the year. They are third parties in the businesses, after all. They do have their responsibilities.
To learn more about Helane Morrison, connect with her on LinkedIn.