SEC: Don't Save Money By Cutting Compliance

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Some good news for compliance specialists: The SEC says financial firms shouldn't consider compliance an area for cost-cutting.

In an open letter to the chief executives of registered financial firms, Lori Richards, the agency's director of compliance inspections and examinations, admonishes firms to "be vigilant and proactive" in making sure they follow accepted practices.

"While many firms are considering reductions and cost-cutting measures, we remind you of your firm's legal obligation to maintain an adequate compliance program reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the law," Richards writes. The letter is posted on the SEC Web site.

"Firms must be vigilant and proactive in preventing, detecting and correcting problems that could occur," Richards continues. "Firms should pay attention to ensuring that their interactions with investors meet high standards, that sales and trading practices are appropriate, that financial, valuation and risk controls are followed, and that all disclosure obligations are met - as well as meeting all other obligations in conformity with the securities laws."

Compliance is one area that's experienced continued demand and relative security in total compensation. In tough times, insiders say, firms need to retain professionals who are overseeing critical legal and regulatory functions. So not only will some firms be adding in this area, bonuses may reward compliance officers and analysts across a range of specialized areas.

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