NASD FINES METLIFE UNITS $5M: The National Association of Securities Dealers imposed a $5 million fine against three MetLife Inc. units - MetLife Securities Inc. of New York, New England Securities Inc. of Boston, and Walnut Street Securities Inc. of St. Louis.In response to an inquiry that it sent in September 2003 centering on the late trading of mutual funds, the NASD said that the MetLife trio provided inaccurate and misleading responses. The MetLife firms neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of the NASD's findings.

PENSION PLAN CHANGES MAY SPUR OUTSOURCING: Changes in pension plan rules may spark a number of benefit plan executives to mull outsourcing, according to a survey conducted by SEI Institutional Group, a provider of outsourced asset management.

Some 81 percent of 302 executives in North America with responsibility for management of defined-benefit plans said that they would consider outsourcing plan management functions. Among executives responsible for overseeing pension plans, 65 percent revealed that they already outsource at least one plan function, while 89 percent of those with "frozen" or closed plans said that they would consider outsourcing. Also, 29 percent of respondents indicated that they will either close, freeze or terminate their pensions by the end of 2007.

BDO SEIDMAN NAMED TOPS AMONG HEDGE FUND SERVICING: Top-tier CPA and business advisory firm BDO Seidman has received the 2006 Alpha Award for being ranked top service provider among all accounting firms in the $1.3 trillion hedge fund industry. The firm was judged on five aspects: audit, client service, hedge fund expertise, regulatory and compliance, and tax.

The 2006 awards of the top hedge fund service providers were based on voting by more than 1,000 hedge fund management firms. The study asked hedge funds to rate the quality of service that they received from their accounting firms, administrators, law firms and prime brokers. BDO Seidman's hedge fund unit is staffed by roughly 70 professionals.

OVERSIGHT SYSTEMS ROLLS out OVERSIGHT 4.2: Oversight Systems, a provider of internal controls and business monitoring solutions, has launched Oversight 4.2, which features automated continuous monitoring for corporate equity management and stock-option grants.

The enhanced version monitors the transactions and activities in human resources and stock-option administration systems to ensure compliance for granting, executing and accounting for employee stock options.

Oversight integrates directly with equity management systems, human resources systems and the general ledger to identify discrepancies, such as:

* Vesting dates that are inconsistent with employment or grant dates;

* Grant dates that fall outside of board meetings;

* Strike prices that vary from the stock price on the grant date;

* Grant dates that precede an employee's hiring;

* Unqualified options exercised without the required withholdings for tax and FICA;

* Journal entries for options expenses that differ from the equity management system; and,

* Exercised options without a corresponding journal entry.

FPA HEAD SAYS CONSUMERS MAY BE LEFT VULNERABLE: In comments submitted to the CFP Board of Standards, Financial Planning Association president Daniel Moisand said that proposed changes to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility will "weaken, not strengthen, consumer protections" for the 51,000 people who hold financial planner designations in the United States.

Moisand's concerns with the proposed ethics changes include the manner in which changes were developed.

The proposed changes obligate the client and the CFP certificant to determine whether the credential holder will put the client's interest first, and the revised code would allow brokerage firms to heavily market the CFP certification to prospective clients, while disclaiming a "client's interest first" type of standard in a written agreement.

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