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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

NASD Issues Year-End Report

by: Nicole Halsey

It's been a productive year for the National Association of Securities Dealers. In a year-end report, the agency said that it has filed over 1,000 enforcement actions, disciplined hundreds of individuals and collected millions in fines.

Overall, NASD filed 1,352 enforcement actions, barred or suspended 830 individuals and collected $32.5 million in disciplinary fines.

The report also highlighted the agency's endeavors to regulate the mutual fund industry. NASD brought more than 60 enforcement actions against securities firms in 2003 for violations ofmutual fund sales. Some of these violations ranged from the suitability of mutual fund share classes that brokers recommended and overall sales practices to improper disclosures and compensation arrangements between the funds and brokers.

Some of 2003's initiatives included:

  • regulation that would require disclosure of mutual fund expenses in advertisements and other sales material that promotes the fund's performance. (NASD also introduced a "Mutual Fund Expense Analyzer" on its Web Site which allows investors to compare expenses and fees of funds and fund classes along with discerning when a breakpoint discounts may be due.

  • directing mutual "fund firms to make refunds to customers by filing enforcement actions against a number of firms that have poor records of providing breakpoint discounts.

  • opening investigations into 160 mutual fund firms on marketing timing and late trading allegations-several of which are still ongoing.

    These moves coincide with NASD's launch of the NASD Investor Education Foundation, which was established to provide investors with high-quality, easily accessible information and tools to better understand investing and the markets. The Foundation will be used solely to fund educational programs, materials and research aimed at segments of the investing public who could benefit from additional resources.  

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