The sad truth is that the Government loves the easy kill. It is often easier for regulators to extract settlements and punishments against smaller market participants, including brokers, traders and analysts, than the giant wire houses, because large companies can match the resources of the Government.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), among other regulators, regularly engage in investigations to explore, deter and punish market conduct that violates the securities laws and industry rules. While it can be hard to know what those investigations will be, the regulators like the SEC disclose regulatory priorities on an annual basis. These examination priorities are areas where the SEC will be dedicating resources throughout 2016.
Of the 2016 Priorities announced by the SEC, the following may lead to broad investigations: