By Laura Anthony, Esq.
SEC Chair Mary Jo White gave a speech at the annual mid-February SEC Speaks program and, as usual, gave some insight into the SEC’s focus in the coming year. This blog summarized Chair White’s speech and provides further insight and information on the topics she addresses.
Consistent with her prior messages, Chair White focuses on enforcement, stating that the SEC “needs to go beyond disclosure” in carrying out its mission. That mission, as articulated by Chair White, is the protection of investors, maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation. In 2015, the SEC brought a record number of enforcement proceedings and secured an all-time high for penalty and disgorgement orders. The primary areas of focus included cybersecurity, market structure requirements, dark pools, microcap fraud, financial reporting failures, insider trading, disclosure deficiencies in municipal offerings and protection of retail investors and retiree savings. In 2016, the SEC intends to focus enforcement on financial reporting, market structure, and the structuring, disclosure and sales of complex financial instruments.
2016 Disclosure Agenda
Chair White hit on the tremendous volume of regulatory changes and congressional mandates. Since 2010 Congress has given the SEC nearly 100 statutory mandates covering a multitude of complex rule requirements, with the FAST Act, JOBS Act, and the Dodd-Frank Act just being 3 examples. White confirms that the amount of recent rulemaking is of historic proportions, completing or overhauling many regulatory areas and providing dramatic changes to others. Again, 3 small examples are the FAST Act, JOBS Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, with the multitude of regulatory changes flowing from these 3 statutory directives.
In 2016 the SEC will continue implementing rules as directed by Congress. In addition to finalizing the remaining security swap and security-based swap dealer requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC hopes to continue rulemaking related to the asset management industry, the structure of the equity markets and disclosure requirements (under Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X).
Related to the asset management industry, in May 2015 the SEC proposed increased reporting for investment advisers and mutual funds, including a requirement that funds report risk metrics, the use of derivatives, securities lending and liquidity of holdings.
Related to the structure of equity markets, the SEC has increased oversight over proprietary traders (see my blog HERE) and has proposed major revisions to regulations for alternative trading systems (this will be the subject of a future blog). Also related to equity markets, Chair White referenced the recent ANPR on new transfer agent rules (see my blog HERE) and the Tick Size Pilot program (see my blog HERE). Moreover, Chair White revealed that the SEC intends to shorten the clearing settlement life cycle from T+3 to T+2.
Click Here To Print- LC PDF Printout SEC Gives Insight On 2016 Initiatives
Note 1: Read Part II of this Article. Click HERE
Note 2: Original appeared on Legal & Compliance, LLC on 8 March 2015. Click HERE
Securities attorney Laura Anthony is the founding partner of Legal & Compliance, LLC, a corporate, securities and business transactions law firm. The firm’s experienced legal team provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and mid-size private companies, OTC and exchange traded issuers as well as private companies going public on the NASDAQ, NYSE MKT or over-the-counter market, such as the OTCQB and OTCQX. For nearly two decades Legal & Compliance, LLC has served clients providing fast, personalized, cutting-edge legal service. The firm’s reputation and relationships provide invaluable resources to clients including introductions to investment bankers, broker-dealers, institutional investors and other strategic alliances.