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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

SEC 2022 examination priorities include information security, emerging technologies, and crypto-assets

Securities Examination Digital Assets Fintech Climate-Related Financial Risks Compliance Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

Securities

On March 30, the SEC’s Division of Examinations announced that its 2022 examination priorities will focus on key risk factors related to private funds, environmental, social and governance investing, retail investor protections, information security and operational resiliency, emerging technologies, and crypto-assets. SEC registrants, including investment advisers, broker-dealers, self-regulatory organizations, clearing firms, and other registrants, are reminded of their obligations to address, manage, and mitigate these key risk areas. The SEC stated that examiners will continue to review whether firms are taking appropriate measures to safeguard customer accounts to prevent intrusions. Firms are expected to implement procedures to respond to incidents, identify and detect red flags for identity theft, and manage operational risk, including oversight of vendors and service providers. With respect to emerging technologies and crypto-assets, the SEC announced it will review whether firms are considering emerging financial technologies when designing their regulatory compliance programs. The SEC will also focus on firms that offer new products and services or employ new practices “to assess whether operations and controls in place are consistent with disclosures made and the standard of conduct owed to investors and other regulatory obligations.” Additionally, examinations of market participants engaged in crypto-assets will continue to focus on custody arrangements for such assets, as well as “the offer, sale, recommendation, advice, and trading of crypto-assets” offered by these participants. The SEC also warned that it will be investigating whether registered investment advisors are “overstating or misrepresenting” environmental, social, and governance factors in their portfolios or disclosures.