The full Senate confirmed Jay Clayton as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission by a 61-37 vote Tuesday evening.
Industry groups were quick to applaud the former Sullivan & Cromwell partner’s appointment, with most expressing their view that Clayton should put adopting a uniform fiduciary rule (also known as a best interest standard) for brokers and advisors at the top of his priorities.
Financial Services Roundtable CEO Tim Pawlenty said that he “looks forward to working with the SEC on regulatory initiatives that will have a positive impact on the economy including a ‘best interest standard’ for retail investors, regulatory harmonization, simplified financial disclosures and more to benefit Americans.”
David Bellaire, executive vice president and general counsel of the Financial Services Institute, stated that FSI has “always believed the top priority of the SEC should be protecting investors. Adopting a true, uniform fiduciary duty that protects investors and their access to affordable, objective financial advice must finally be given the serious attention it deserves.”
Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, agreed that chief among Clayton’s tasks should be for the Commission to” take a leading role in promulgating a consistent best interest standard of care for financial professionals” as well as a variable annuity summary prospectus.
Better Markets president and CEO Dennis Kelleher called on Clayton to fix “the conflict-ridden credit rating agencies” as well as adopt “a strong fiduciary duty rule that requires broker-dealers to always put their clients’ best interests first.”
Clayton now heads the agency that is “the primary cop on the Wall Street beat,” Kelleher added.
Norm Champ, former head of the SEC’s Division of Investment Management, told ThinkAdvisor in a recent interview that a big thrust of Clayton’s agenda will be to reverse the trend of declining IPOs in the U.S.
“It’s important to look at the face value of what the President and Jay Clayton talked about in the statement that nominated him: they both talked about getting on top of the decline in initial public offerings in the United States,” Champ, partner in the Investment Funds Group at Kirkland & Ellis, told ThinkAdvisor. “So long term, we are seeing a decline in IPOs in the U.S. That’s a very bad development.”
Champ continued: “We need to make sure that people go public here because we need those companies on our exchanges; we need that liquidity in our markets. I take the president and Jay Clayton at face value that that is going to be the theme of the SEC for the next four years—to try to focus on corporation finance, remove some of the barriers to going public (there were a lot of things in Dodd-Frank that made it very difficult to be public).”
Indeed, the SEC’s Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA) and New York University’s Salomon Center plan to hold a symposium May 10 in New York to take a look at data and explore the economic causes and consequences of the perceived weakness in the IPO market, as well as discuss ways to encourage more capital-raising through IPOs.