Rick Fleming, deputy general counsel for the North American Securities Administrators Association, was named Wednesday as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new investor advocate.
Fleming, who will assume his new role on Feb. 24, becomes the first person to lead the SEC’s Office of the Investor Advocate, which was created by Dodd-Frank and requires that the Investor Advocate report to the chairwoman.
While Dodd-Frank required appointment of an investor advocate, an SEC spokesman declined to comment on the length of time it took the agency to appoint one, stating that "the functions" of an investor advocate over the past three years "have been carried out in the interim by our Office of Investor Education and Advocacy."
Fleming will also serve as a member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee.
“I am very pleased that Rick will be joining the commission as its inaugural director of our Office of the Investor Advocate,” said Mary Jo White, SEC chairwoman, in a statement. “Rick brings a depth of experience advocating for the interests of investors, a keen understanding of the markets, and a true passion for investor protection.”
Andrea Seidt, NASAA president and Ohio securities commissioner, added in a separate statement that the advocate office “will serve a critical role in ensuring that the SEC focuses on the needs of ordinary investors." For nearly two decades, she said, "Rick has fought directly on the front lines for investors at the state and national level. Through his work with the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner and more recently at NASAA, Rick has demonstrated an unparalleled passion for investor advocacy and commitment to investor protection.”
As mandated by Section 915 of Dodd-Frank, the investor advocate helps retail investors resolve significant problems with the SEC or with self-regulatory organizations; identifies areas in which investors would benefit from changes in the SEC regulations or the rules of SROs; analyzes the potential impact on investors of proposed SEC and SRO rules and regulations; and to the extent practicable, propose changes in the regulations or orders of the commission and to congress any legislative, administrative or personnel changes that may be appropriate to mitigate problems and to promote the interests of investors.
Prior to joining NASAA in 2011, Fleming was general counsel for the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner. A native of Kansas, Fleming graduated summa cum laude from Washburn University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics, and is a graduate of Wake Forest School of Law in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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