The exchange traded fund (ETF) approval process could become streamlined, thanks to moves by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

We caught up with John McGuire, partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and he weighed in with his thoughts about the changes.

The SEC is making these changes largely because of demand from ETF sponsors to speed up the process and as the funds become increasingly popular. Typically, the ETF approval process involved staff at the SEC subjecting a fund to a review, resulting in approvals on a case-by-case basis, report Kara Scannell and Diya Gullapalli for the Wall Street Journal. The new rule would eliminate the need to obtain specific relief.

"The ultimate short cut is to adopt a rule that permits ETFs without the need for obtaining and SEC exemptive order," McGuire says. "I do think that the success of ETFs has led to a large backlog of exemptive orders."

The changes don’t necessarily mean that ETFs won’t go through less scrutiny before they land in the marketplace. But McGuire says that "ETF sponsors won’t have to go through this exemptive process, but there will still be scrutiny as the ETFs go through the registration process."

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