On March 3, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations (EXAMS) (formerly the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) released its 2021 examination priorities.
Notably, while the majority of the examination priorities echo OCIE priorities from prior years, this year’s EXAMS priorities include a greater focus on climate-related risk and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters. This is consistent with the Commission’s increased emphasis on ESG matters in other contexts, as well as that of other regulators. This year’s priorities also include examinations relating to Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) compliance, considerations relating to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a continued focus on complex products.
EXAMS’s leadership also calls out its newly operational Event and Emerging Risks Examination Team (EERT), which is tasked with enhancing the Division’s ability to identify and tackle emerging and exigent risks as they arise.
The examination priorities are organized around largely perennial themes, and we discuss each such theme below.