Mary Jo White (left), President Barack Obama’s pick to be the next chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, will tell the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday that regulating the conduct of broker-dealers and investment advisors when giving retail investment advice is “an important” area within the SEC’s jurisdiction, and that she plans to “focus” on the issue during her chairmanship.
In her prepared testimony, which AdvisorOne previewed Monday, White says that other priorities for her as she assumes the role of SEC chief will be to:
- First, finish, “in as timely and smart a way as possible,” the rulemaking mandates contained in the Dodd-Frank Act and JOBS Act.
- Continue “rigorous economic analysis” to inform and guide commission rules;
- Strengthen the enforcement function of the SEC, so that it is “fair, but it also must be bold and unrelenting.”
- Fully understand “all aspects of today’s high-speed, high-tech and dispersed marketplace so that it can be wisely and optimally regulated, which means without undue cost and without undermining its vitality”; and
- Focus on money-market funds, private fund advisers, credit rating agencies and clearing agencies.
David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association, says that while White’s comments in her prepared testimony are “a sign that she does intend to look carefully” at the fiduciary issue, “I think it would be premature to believe that she has a firm policy view on the details of any such rulemaking.”
Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, adds that White, in her testimony, “clearly recognizes the broad range of issues she will have to grapple with” as chairwoman. “With such a crowded agenda facing the agency, it is encouraging that the fiduciary rulemaking made the list of issues on which she plans to focus.”
White’s pledge to focus on the fiduciary issue is timely, as the Financial Planning Coalition released Monday results of a survey it conducted showing that 80% of American investors do not believe the federal government is doing enough to protect “consumers from being taken advantage of” by financial advisors.