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Flexibility needed in applying Volcker rule to insurers: SEC head


WASHINGTON—The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is trying to be flexible in how it applies the so-called Volcker rule to insurers, the head of the agency told a panel of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The rule—Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—currently provides for a statutory exemption for an insurance company acting on behalf of its general account. However, insurance companies have expressed concern that the exemption is too narrow because it does not extend to covered funds.

While testifying before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro acknowledged the industry’s input on the rule and said the SEC was looking to be flexible on the matter.

“We’ve received a lot of comment on this issue, particularly from insurance companies expressing real concern,” she said.

Ms. Schapiro noted that the SEC had exemption authority but said the standard to grant an exemption was high.

“We are looking at the possibility to provide an exemption here,” she said.