SEC’s New Chief: Dodd-Frank, JOBS Act Top SEC’s Priority List

In her first public speech, Elisse Walter says the commissioners, though split, are eager to find common ground

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In her first public remarks as SEC Chairwoman, Elisse Walter said Friday that despite the current “2-2 divide” among the agency’s commissioners, she’s confident that she, the commissioners and SEC staff “are eager to find common ground” and move forward on the agency’s priorities, which she listed as remaining rulemakings mandated under Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act.

SEC Chairwoman Elisse WalterSaid Walter (left) before a meeting held by the Investor Advisory Committee at SEC headquarters: “I am currently working with the other commissioners to prioritize the many agenda items before us and to set a realistic timetable for executing on those priorities. With these discussions still under way, I can’t yet give you too many details.” Rules mandated by Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act, however, she said, would be at the “top of the list.”

She did not mention the SEC’s rule to put brokers under a fiduciary mandate. But Ken Bentsen, executive vice president of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), said Wednesday that the SEC plans to issue a “concept release,” which will also likely include a request for information, in the first quarter regarding its fiduciary rule.

Walter told the Investor Advisory Committee that a forthcoming cross-border swaps proposal is “a critical linchpin” as the SEC finalizes derivatives rules required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law enacting Wall Street reforms, Reuters reported.

“That is what is first on the agenda and really stands as the most important thing we need to do as a prelude to adopting everything else,” she said, according to the news service.

In her prepared remarks, Walters said that as she sets priorities for the agency, she has also embarked on a “listening tour” and is “clarifying” her “thoughts and keeping an appropriate perspective by listening to ideas, questions and complaints from people in and out of the agency.”

The Investor Advisory Committee, she said, “is the right idea, and particularly at this critical juncture in the history of our markets.” Over the last decade, she said, “the retail investing landscape has become increasingly complex, populated by products, strategies, technologies, opportunities and risks that simply didn’t exist just a short time ago.”

Besides organic changes from in the marketplace, the Dodd-Frank Act and JOBS Act are “reshaping the terrain,” she said. “Just 21 months after Dodd-Frank, the most significant financial reform bill in decades, was enacted—and created this committee—the JOBS Act brought another seismic shift in the way companies, particularly small and emerging ones, raise capital and how individual investors participate in that process.”

She noted the SEC staff’s first set of recommendations to the commission on proposed rules that would lift the restriction on general solicitation in certain private placements. “I deeply appreciate the effort and thoughtfulness that went into crafting the recommendations,” she said.

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