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Robo-Advisers and Digital Advice: The Emerging Regulatory Framework

Speaker(s): Allison E. Wielobob, Catherine Courtney Gordon, Clifford E. Kirsch
Recorded on: Jun. 28, 2016
PLI Program #: 185561

Allison Wielobob is General Counsel at the American Retirement Association.  Allison brings nearly 20 years of experience—both in government service and private practice—with a broad range of employee benefits issues under ERISA and the Code.  Allison served as a legislation counsel for the Joint Committee on Taxation of the U.S. Congress and was on the staff of the Office of Regulations and Interpretations of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.  After leaving the Labor Department, Allison worked at Eversheds Sutherland (US) in Washington, DC.

Cliff Kirsch began his career at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), became chief legal officer for one of the country’s largest dually- registered broker-dealer/advisers and then joined Sutherland (now Eversheds Sutherland) in 2006. He relies on his regulatory and in- house background and an up-to-date knowledge of regulatory developments to provide practical and innovative counsel to broker-dealers and investment advisers in the areas of securities regulation and compliance.

With more than 25 years of experience, Cliff regularly counsels clients on the design and distribution of investment products including wrap-fee programs and other advisory products, mutual funds, bank collective investment funds and insurance products. He also focuses on issues related to the design and implementation of compliance programs at financial services firms.

While at the SEC, Cliff received the Manuel F. Cohen Award, which recognizes younger lawyers who have displayed outstanding legal ability, integrity and judgment and he served as assistant director of the SEC's Division of Investment Management.

Cliff is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and is the author and editor of two of the leading treatises in the broker-dealer and adviser arena: Broker-Dealer Regulation and Investment Adviser Regulation (published by the Practising Law Institute).

Cliff is also co-founder of the Julia Anne Kirsch Foundation, which seeks to serve the needs of disabled individuals and their families.


Eversheds Sutherland counsels a coalition of major life insurance companies on evolving state and federal regulations and other legal developments.

Eversheds Sutherland represents a coalition of major life insurance companies, which collectively account for more than 80% of the annuity business in the United States, in their efforts to affect the direction and details of various SEC, FINRA, CFTC, NAIC and state rule proposals and initiatives.

Eversheds Sutherland serves as outside counsel on broker-dealer and adviser regulatory issues for one of the largest independent broker-dealer networks in the country.  Eversheds Sutherland serves as regular primary outside counsel on broker-dealer and adviser regulatory issues for one of the largest independent broker-dealer networks in the country.

Eversheds Sutherland represents coalition of collective trust fund sponsors, advisers and other service providers.

Eversheds Sutherland serves as counsel to the Coalition of Collective Trust Funds. Among other things, Sutherland monitors and reports on legal and regulatory matters affecting collective trust funds.

Professional Activities

Member, New York City Bar Association

Faculty, FINRA Compliance Institute at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Former Chair, FINRA Variable Products Committee

Former Board Member, National Society of Compliance Professionals

Catherine "Katy" Courtney Gordon focuses her practice on the regulation of broker-dealers and investment advisers under the federal and state securities laws and the rules of self-regulatory organizations (SROs), with a focus on fiduciary duty and the intersection of advisory and brokerage services.

Prior to rejoining Morgan Lewis in 2016, Katy served as senior counsel in the Chief Counsel’s Office and the Disclosure Review and Accounting Office of the Division of Investment Management of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, where she worked on a broad range of investment advisory matters including status and registration, disclosure, fiduciary duty, performance marketing and social media and provided guidance on regulatory examinations and enforcement actions. She also performed analysis and review of investment company filings under the Federal securities laws. She was also previously an associate at a Washington, DC law firm, where she advised broker-dealers, registered investment companies, unregistered investment vehicles, and investment advisers on federal and state securities laws and SRO rules. Katy has also worked in the market regulation, advertising regulation, and enforcement departments of NASD Regulation Inc. (now FINRA) and served as an assistant general counsel at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.


Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, 2001, J.D., Cum Laude
University of Maryland, 1990, B.A.


District of Columbia


Financial Services


Investment Management
Securities & Corporate Governance


North America