The regulatory environment may be getting a little easier to manage, at least for some financial services companies.
NASD and the New York Stock Exchange are discussing ways to bring their regulatory rule books into line. In a speech at the Security Traders Association Annual Conference on Oct. 12, NASD Chairperson and CEO Mary Schapiro said, “The need for streamlining regulation is nowhere more obvious than to the roughly 200 firms that are members of both the NYSE and NASD, and are thus subject to regulation—sometimes conflicting regulation—by each of us.”
Industry committees have been formed to review NYSE and NASD rules, including those covering sales practices and continuing education requirements. According to Schapiro, the committees have presented their initial recommendations to the NYSE and NASD, and they are currently being reviewed.
“We’ll submit any proposed rule changes resulting from this process to our internal rule-making mechanisms with the goal of eliminating discrepancies between NASD rules and NYSE rules covering the same practices,” said Schapiro.
Schapiro also said NASD will keep its “eyes open to the possibility for greater collaboration and coordination with the NYSE in the regulation of our dual members.”
There have been recent press reports that the two entities are discussing the possibility of merging their regulatory operations. And John Thain, CEO of the NYSE Group, in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in March, told senators that the NYSE is committed to finding alternative ways of reducing regulatory duplication, “including exploring the possibility of forming a joint venture with the NASD. This joint venture would leverage the talent, expertise, and experience of two seasoned regulators, giving both organizations substantial authority and control over the regulation of the broker/dealers in the securities industry.”
A year ago, former NASD Chairman and CEO Robert Glauber also floated the idea of consolidating the regulation of the firms that are both members of NASD and the NYSE. “The benefits of this arrangement are obvious,” Glauber said in a speech at the NASD Fall Securities Conference in San Francisco. “Those 180 firms currently pay regulatory fees and assessments to both SROs [Self Regulatory Organizations]. But under a partnership, there would be only one rule book, one regulatory fee, one examination staff, and one enforcement staff to contend with. We estimate the industry would collectively save more than $100 million a year in fees and compliance costs. That's nothing to sneeze at.”