Structured Thoughts -- Special Issue October 1, 2012 -- It’s Complicated: A Recap of SIFMA’s Complex Products Conference

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On September 27, 2012, SIFMA hosted a conference on Complex Products. The day-long session covered “complex products” and included various presentations about structured products and exchange-traded products. Many materials from the session are available on the SIFMA site, at http://www.sifma.org/cpf2012/highlights/.

The program began with a presentation by FINRA head Richard Ketchum, who addressed the growth in sales of complex products offered to retail investors. Consistent with various recent FINRA pronouncements, in his remarks Ketchum indicated that FINRA was following closely the initiatives undertaken by foreign regulators as to complex products. Specifically, Ketchum noted that while we rely on a disclosure-based, and not a merit-based, approach, in recent years, foreign regulators have implemented merit-based assessments of complex products, which have resulted in certain products being prohibited for retail distribution. Ketchum noted that “If the industry and regulators are unable to demonstrate their ability to control sales practice abuses relating to complex products through appropriate supervisory controls and oversight, then some forms of product approval may become inevitable.”

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