Helping investors understand the differences between investment professionals is among the Securities and Exchange Commission’s multi-pronged list of goals that the agency wants feedback on — which includes protecting investors, innovating to keep up with technology and shoring up the securities regulator’s performance via new hires.
The agency said Tuesday that it’s seeking comment for 30 days on its Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2018 through 2022.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton stated in releasing the three-part priority plan that “Congress, our fellow regulators, and others who focus on our performance” substantially informed the forward-looking plan that’s designed to make the SEC “even more effective, focusing on the most important goals and initiatives that will best position the SEC to fulfill our mission.”
The SEC is “presenting the plan in a more concise and readable format this year, which we hope will further encourage investors — particularly our Main Street investors — and market participants to share their views on how we can meet and exceed their expectations of our agency,” Clayton said.
Clear Up Investor Confusion
For Main Street investors seeking professional advice, “their choices all too often are not as clear as they should be,” Clayton said. “The distinction between investment professionals who sell securities and those who provide investment advice has become less clear. This lack of clarity makes it challenging for investors to understand what standards of conduct govern the investment professionals who assist them.”
The agency’s strategic plan comes as it takes comment on its standard of conduct proposals for brokers and advisors. Clayton told investors at a recent town hall in Atlanta that the proposed Regulation Best Interest for brokers “raises brokers’ advice obligations and changes the way brokers are allowed to operate today.”
Beef Up Cyber Controls
Noting that “technology has fundamentally altered consumer interactions with securities market participants,” data securities measures will be front and center, the plan states.
That includes examining strategies to address cyber and other system and infrastructure risks faced by the U.S. capital markets as well as market participants. “Data collection, storage, analysis, availability, and protection are fundamental to our capital markets, the individuals and entities that participate in those markets, and the SEC,” the plan states. “The scope and severity of risks that cyber threats present have increased dramatically, and vigilance is required to protect against intrusions and disruptions.”