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Regulations keep getting longer!

I have often heard the joke told at AICP and other compliance conferences that compliance professionals essentially get paid by the word, so we have a propensity to go “on and on and on” when just “on” would do. The same could be said for regulators, especially as of late.

Virtually no discussion of the DOL Fiduciary Rule fails to mention that the materials are over 1000 pages. And now we have an NAIC just-adopted 2016 Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Alan Prochoroff writes in the August 15, 2016edition of Insurance Compliance Insight, referencing and linking to a Sutherland Legal Alert, making the same point, that “One aspect is obvious: The 2016 version is huge! It has almost 100 sections compared to just 30 from 1995.” Both Sutherland and Prochoroff note that quantity is not necessarily quality. I would argue that from a compliance standpoint, quite the opposite is true. 

Most of us have heard the famous quote, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though also to many others, that, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” (The Quote Investigator appears to think that Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician should get the credit.) That holds true for regulations as well. Often long regulations reflect an attempt to satisfy all drafting participants, but they leave those of us that are trying to comply wondering how to jump through all the hoops those efforts produce. Often they don’t result in better regulation or more compliance, simply more law department and compliance department dollars being spent to parse and implement.

The NAIC has rarely been accused of acting to quickly, but the drafts that emerge sometimes suggest that a commitment to brevity might actually result in a better regulation and more consistent compliance. Only time will tell with the 2016 Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.