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FinTech Forum Embraces Industry Innovation, Highlights Need for Regulatory Oversight

On November 14, 2016 the SEC hosted a FinTech Forum which addressed topics such as the impact of recent innovation in investment advisory services; capital formation for small businesses; the impact of technological innovation on trading, settlement, and clearance activities; and investor protection in light of these technological advances. Panelists noted the advancements in digital advisor technology and the opportunities to attract investors, particularly millennials. In her opening remarks, SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White noted that regulators have an obligation to understand, monitor, and encourage these technological advances when appropriate, while simultaneously being prepared to protect investors and the markets. Chair White said the agency is looking at how digital advice providers: (1) provide appropriate disclosures so that their clients understand their services; (2) obtain information to support their duty to provide suitable advice; (3) design their compliance programs; and (4) safeguard client data and address business continuity. Panelists also discussed the topic of blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, and its effect on financial bookkeeping. Chair White said the SEC is carefully evaluating when and how blockchain will be on-boarded within the securities market and whether it will be adopted into current infrastructures or replace certain services or personnel.