February 22, 2019

The Politicization of the SEC

I remember a time when you didn’t even know which political party that a particular SEC Commissioner was from. It didn’t matter because the SEC’s mission of investor protection was politically colorblind. I still believe that many SEC Commissioners operate with that same philosophy. Although that gets harder & harder to accomplish these days when the backgrounds of most SEC Commissioners seem to be former staffers of the Senate Banking Committee.

Anyway, this Reuters article entitled “Republican frustrations grow as SEC chair proves frequent ally of Democrats” angered me because I still believe that the SEC’s primary mission should be investor protection. And that it shouldn’t be a political football. The SEC is intended to be an independent agency. But without self-funding, that can be difficult to avoid sometimes…

Interpretive Guidance: From the Staff or Commission?

Meanwhile, the debate about whether the SEC should communicate its views with Commission-level guidance – not Staff-level guidance – continues with this recent speech from SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce (and some people even want less Commission-level guidance; remember when former Commissioner Piwowar suggested shorter adopting releases). This debate has a partisan tinge to it as some GOP members of Congress have been harping on this issue for more than a decade.

I’m not a big fan of Commission-level guidance. Most Commissioners don’t have the depth of experience in securities laws matters that senior SEC Staffers do – and they certainly don’t have the same level of resources. There are only so many hours in the day. And for what it’s worth, I think a lot more Staff guidance gets run past the Commissioners than ever before – which should make this topic a non-issue. I could be wrong but I believe non-controversial CDIs go out without Commission input, but more significant guidance – like Staff Legal Bulletins & things like conflict minerals guidance – almost certainly get run past the Commissioners (or at least the Chair) before they are issued by the Staff. There isn’t any formal vote; I think it’s more an informational thing…

Broc Tales: “Career Advice”

After over two years of Reg FD-related blogging on my “Broc Tales Blog,” the latest batch of stories come in the form of a dialogue between John & me about how to best manage your career. Some of the topics we tackle include:

1. Be Willing to Adapt
2. Be Ready at All Times
3. Be Prepared for Lifelong Learning
4. Set Regular Goals
5. Push Yourself (& Be Mindful When You Do)
6. Don’t Be Afraid to be a Trailblazer
7. Save Cash
8. Be Responsive
9. Hang Out With Good People
10. Hang Out With Good People (Online)

Broc Romanek