Two men share securities regulation news

Breaking news and expert analysis on legal and compliance issues

[Back To Home][Back To Archives]

From Securities Regulation Daily, January 23, 2017

White emphasizes SEC independence in look back, forward at agency’s work

By Mark S. Nelson, J.D.

Former SEC Chair Mary Jo White reiterated her belief in the strength and independence of the Commission in remarks she delivered for the Alan B. Levenson Keynote Address at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s 44th Annual Securities Regulation Institute in Coronado, California. Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. is a sponsor of the event.

A look back. White began a wide-ranging speech by emphasizing that the SEC remains a strong, independent agency that accomplished much during her tenure as Chair, but which can do more in several areas. Independence also was a key theme of White’s last speech as Chair before returning to private life. As for looking back at her term as Chair, White said there was "no such thing as a victory lap," but she offered a few examples of key achievements.

Overall, White said that for her the main priority was the Commission’s full mission. With respect to equity market structure issues, she noted the many ways the agency has improved its monitoring abilities by adopting technology tools. She also emphasized the adoption of the consolidated audit trail, Regulation SCI, and other rules for asset-backed securities and reforms for money market mutual funds.

She also recounted the SEC’s record number of enforcement cases, unprecedented monetary remedies, and the many first-ever cases brought by the agency. She said the SEC’s focus is now more on individuals and that enforcement is a "bold and unrelenting" aspect of the Commission’s work, a theme she also emphasized in a speech last November.

White explained that the Commission’s enforcement work also now emphasizes risk in ways that it previously did not. According to White, the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations has revamped how it does examinations by adopting a risk-based, data-driven approach.

Looking ahead. White spoke of the variety of issues that come before the Commission on a regular basis that raise enforcement and other questions on a daily basis and how this part of the agency’s work will continue regardless of a new Administration. White also said the next Chair will set the Commission’s agenda, which also may be impacted by Congress. White observed that her remarks were only her predictions.

On the derivatives front, White said the agency was ready to move ahead on more rules for security-based swaps, but could not obtain a quorum. Many Dodd-Frank rules for security-based swaps already have been proposed or adopted, but she said the timing of more rules was less certain, although predictability and harmonization would remain key themes for derivatives regulators.

According to White, security-based swaps rules on capital margin and asset segregation could be a nearer-term focus for the SEC and that she expected the Commission would eventually adopt these rules. Other areas of concern, such as trading requirements rules, could take more time or may even be impacted by legislation.

White also noted the significant investment of time the agency made on its disclosure effectiveness review and related concept release. White suggested the agency could look at two of its industry guides, including the one on mining disclosures to better align the existing guidance with current industry standards. She also said a request for comment on an update to the industry guide for banks was ready and is relevant to the disclosure review effort.

Other areas the new Commission may examine include clearance and settlement as well as fixed income markets as the U.S. interest rate environment changes. White said it would be harder to predict how the Commission will deal with executive compensation issues and the universal proxy proposal going forward. Open regulatory questions for the Commission include asset managers and the uniform fiduciary duty rule, which White said requires the Commission to "grapple" with tough questions. As Chair, White told Congress that she had concluded such a fiduciary standard should apply to "personalized securities advice to retail investors," a view she reiterated in her last appearance before Congress as SEC Chair.

MainStory: TopStory AccountingAuditing AlternativeInvestmentFunds ClearanceSettlement CorporateGovernance CorpGovNews GCNNews DoddFrankAct ExchangesMarketRegulation ExecutiveCompensation FiduciaryDuties InvestmentAdvisers IPOs JOBSAct PrivateEquityNews PublicCompanyReportingDisclosure

Back to Top

Securities Regulation Daily

Introducing Wolters Kluwer Securities Regulation Daily — a daily reporting service created by attorneys, for attorneys — providing same-day coverage of breaking news, court decisions, legislation, and regulatory activity.

A complete daily report of the news that affects your world

  • View full summaries of federal and state court decisions.
  • Access full text of legislative and regulatory developments.
  • Customize your daily email by topic and/or jurisdiction.
  • Search archives for stories of interest.

Not just news — the right news

  • Get expert analysis written by subject matter specialists—created by attorneys for attorneys.
  • Track law firms and organizations in the headlines with our new “Who’s in the News” feature.
  • Promote your firm with our new reprint policy.

24/7 access for a 24/7 world

  • Forward information with special copyright permissions, encouraging collaboration between counsel and colleagues.
  • Save time with mobile apps for your BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Android, or Kindle.
  • Access all links from any mobile device without being prompted for user name and password.