SEC Directs Examiners To Focus on How US Broker-Dealers Are Pitching Crypto

U.S. broker-dealers and investment advisers that deal in crypto will get extra scrutiny from Securities and Exchange Commission examiners this year, according to the agency’s annual examination priorities announced Tuesday.

The SEC-registered investment firms offering or advising about cryptocurrencies will be a focus, and the regulator will make sure the companies “followed their respective standards of care when making recommendations, referrals, or providing investment advice,” according to a statement.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler, who has long viewed most cryptocurrencies as being securities that need registration, said these priorities for the examination division aim to protect investors “in a time of growing markets, evolving technologies, and new forms of risk.”

The annual priorities differ from last year’s, which included a more brief section on crypto that also focused on the “custody arrangements” for digital assets. Registered investment advisers have reportedly been under recent SEC scrutiny about whether they follow custody rules.

Earlier Tuesday, the SEC had also warned that investors should be wary of the crypto they may include in their self-administered retirement accounts.