Advertisements
Tag Archives: Mary Jo White

New SEC Rules Allow Companies to Raise Up to $5 Million for Businesses Incorporated Out of State as well as from Investors Who Live Out of State

28 Oct

SEC Adopts New Securities Act Rule 147A and Changes to Reg D Rule 504 to Facilitate Intrastate and Regional Securities Offerings

Washington, D.C. – The Securities and Exchange Commission today adopted final rules that modernize how companies can raise money to fund their businesses through intrastate and small offerings while maintaining investor protections.“These final rules, while continuing to provide investor protections, update and expand the capital raising avenues for smaller companies, allowing them to more fully take advantage of changes in technology and business practices,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

“These final rules, while continuing to provide investor protections, update and expand the capital raising avenues for smaller companies, allowing them to more fully take advantage of changes in technology and business practices,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

“These final rules, while continuing to provide investor protections, update and expand the capital raising avenues for smaller companies, allowing them to more fully take advantage of changes in technology and business practices,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White.

The final rules amend Securities Act Rule 147 to modernize the safe harbor under Section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Act, so issuers may continue to use state law exemptions that are conditioned upon compliance with both Section 3(a)(11) and Rule 147.  The final rules also establish a new intrastate offering exemption, Securities Act Rule 147A, that further accommodates offers accessible to out-of-state residents and companies that are incorporated or organized out-of-state.

To facilitate capital formation through regional offerings, the final rules amend Rule 504 of Regulation D under the Securities Act to increase the aggregate amount of securities that may be offered and sold from $1 million to $5 million.  The rules also apply bad actor disqualifications to Rule 504 offerings to provide additional investor protection, consistent with other rules in Regulation D.  In light of the changes to Rule 504, the final rules repeal Rule 505 of Regulation D.

Amended Rule 147 and new Rule 147A will be effective 150 days after publication in the Federal Register.  Amended Rule 504 will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  The repeal of Rule 505 will be effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register.

 

Highlights of the SEC Final Rules

New Rule 147A and Amendments to Rule 147

The adoption of new Rule 147A and the amendments to Securities Act Rule 147 would update and modernize the existing intrastate offering framework that permits companies to raise money from investors within their state without concurrently registering the offers and sales at the federal level.

Amended Rule 147 would remain a safe harbor under Section 3(a)(11) of the Securities Act, so that issuers may continue to use the rule for securities offerings relying on current state law exemptions.  New Rule 147A would be substantially identical to Rule 147 except that it would allow offers to be accessible to out-of-state residents and for companies to be incorporated or organized out-of-state.

Both new Rule 147A and amended Rule 147 would include the following provisions:

  • A requirement that the issuer has its “principal place of business” in-state and satisfies at least one “doing business” requirement that would demonstrate the in-state nature of the issuer’s business
  • A new “reasonable belief” standard for issuers to rely on in determining the residence of the purchaser at the time of the sale of securities
  • A requirement that issuers obtain a written representation from each purchaser as to residency
  • A limit on resales to persons residing within the state or territory of the offering for a period of six months from the date of the sale by the issuer to the purchaser
  • An integration safe harbor that would include any prior offers or sales of securities by the issuer made under another provision, as well as certain subsequent offers or sales of securities by the issuer occurring after the completion of the offering
  • Legend requirements to offerees and purchasers about the limits on resales

Amendments to Rule 504 and Repeal of Rule 505

Rule 504 of Regulation D is an exemption from registration under the Securities Act for offers and sales of up to $1 million of securities in a 12-month period, provided that the issuer is not an Exchange Act reporting company, investment company, or blank check company.  The rule also imposes certain conditions on the offers and sales, with limited exceptions made for offers and sales made in accordance with specified types of state registration provisions and exemptions.  The amendments to Rule 504 would retain the existing framework, while increasing the aggregate amount of securities that may be offered and sold under Rule 504 in any 12-month period from $1 million to $5 million and disqualifying certain bad actors from participation in Rule 504 offerings.  The final rules also would repeal Rule 505, which permits offerings of up to $5 million annually that must be sold solely to accredited investors or no more than 35 non-accredited investors.

The Commission adopted Rule 147 in 1974 as a safe harbor to a statutory intrastate exemption, Section 3(a)(11), which was included in the Securities Act upon its adoption in 1933.  Commenters, market participants and state regulators have indicated that the combined effect of the statutory limitation on offers to persons residing in the same state or territory as the issuer and the prescriptive eligibility requirements of Rule 147 limit the availability of the exemption for companies that would otherwise conduct intrastate offerings.

The $1 million aggregate offering limit in Rule 504 has been in place since 1988.

Effective Date

Amended Rule 147 and new Rule 147A would become effective 150 days after publication in the Federal Register.  Amended Rule 504 would become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.  The repeal of Rule 505 would become effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register.

# # #

Robert Hoskins, a seasoned Front Page PR veteran provides more than twenty-five years of external communications, media relations, digital social media and SEO skills to Front Page PR’s crowdfunding PR and media relations service portfolio.
Robert Hoskins
(512) 627-6622
@Crowdfunding_PR


Mr. Robert Hoskins is a seasoned marketing veteran with a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses as well as Fortune 500 corporations launch successful marketing communications campaigns to gain market traction for a wide variety of products and services.
On a regular basis, Mr. Hoskins consults with crowdfunding campaign managers as well as crowdfunding sites, portals and platforms to deliver successful crowdfunding marketing campaigns.
Google search “Robert Hoskins Crowdfunding” to see why Mr. Hoskins is considered one of the industry’s foremost crowdfunding experts that has amassed a huge social media following, which is dedicated to supporting donation-, rewards- and equity-based crowdfunding campaigns.
Advertisements

SEC Details Rules for Title III Crowdfunding Investors and Crowdfunding Investment Sites

31 Oct

The SEC’s final Title III Crowdfunding Rule (Regulation Crowdfunding) will enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits, require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the intermediaries facilitating crowdfunding transactions

Chair Mary Jo White Gives an Overview of Title III Crowdfunding Rules

Chair Mary Jo White Gives an Overview of Title III Crowdfunding Rules

By Robert Hoskins

SEC’s Title III of the JOBS Act 

On Friday, October 30, 2015, the SEC passed the final Title III Regulation Crowdfunding Rule that will allow the offer and sale of securities through crowdfunding.  The new rules will give small businesses an additional avenue to raise capital and provide investors with important protections.  If adopted, this would complete the Commission’s major rulemaking mandated under the JOBS Act.

Title III Crowdfunding Investor Rules

The recommended rules would, among other things, enable individuals to purchase securities in crowdfunding offerings subject to certain limits, require companies to disclose certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the intermediaries facilitating crowdfunding transactions.  More specifically, the recommended rules would:

  • Permit a company to raise a maximum aggregate amount of $1 million through crowdfunding offerings in a 12-month period;
  • Permit individual investors, over a 12-month period, to invest in the aggregate across all crowdfunding offerings up to:
    • If either their annual income or net worth is less than $100,000, than the greater of:
      • $2,000 or
      • 5 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth.
    • If both their annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000, 10 percent of the lesser of their annual income or net worth; and
  • During the 12-month period, the aggregate amount of securities sold to an investor through all crowdfunding offerings may not exceed $100,000.

Under the recommended rules, certain companies would not be eligible to use the exemption.  Ineligible companies would include non-U.S. companies, Exchange Act reporting companies, certain investment companies, companies that are subject to disqualification under Regulation Crowdfunding, companies that have failed to comply with the annual reporting requirements under Regulation Crowdfunding during the two years immediately preceding the filing of the offering statement, and companies that have no specific business plan or have indicated that their business plan is to engage in a merger or acquisition with an unidentified company or companies.

Securities purchased in a crowdfunding transaction generally could not be resold for one year.  Holders of these securities would not count toward the threshold that requires a company to register its securities under Exchange Act Section 12(g) if the company is current in its annual reporting obligations, retains the services of a registered transfer agent and has less than $25 million in total assets as of the end of its most recently completed fiscal year.

In addition, all transactions relying on the new rules would be required to take place through an SEC-registered intermediary, either a broker-dealer or a funding portal.

Title III Crowdfunding Company Disclosures 

Companies that rely on the recommended rules to conduct a crowdfunding offering must file certain information with the Commission and provide this information to investors and the intermediary facilitating the offering, including among other things, to disclose:

  • The price to the public of the securities or the method for determining the price, the target offering amount, the deadline to reach the target offering amount, and whether the company will accept investments in excess of the target offering amount;
  • A discussion of the company’s financial condition;
  • Financial statements of the company that, depending on the amount offered and sold during a 12-month period, are accompanied by information from the company’s tax returns, reviewed by an independent public accountant, or audited by an independent auditor.  A company offering more than $500,000 but not more than $1 million of securities relying on these rules for the first time would be permitted to provide reviewed rather than audited financial statements, unless financial statements of the company are available that have been audited by an independent auditor;
  • A description of the business and the use of proceeds from the offering;
  • Information about officers and directors as well as owners of 20 percent or more of the company; and
  • Certain related-party transactions.

In addition, companies relying on the crowdfunding exemption would be required to file an annual report with the Commission and provide it to investors.

Title III Crowdfunding Rules for Portals

A funding portal would be required to register with the Commission on new Form Funding Portal, and become a member of a national securities association (currently, FINRA).  A company relying on the rules would be required to conduct its offering exclusively through one intermediary platform at a time.

The recommended rules would require intermediaries to, among other things:

  • Provide investors with educational materials that explain, among other things, the process for investing on the platform, the types of securities being offered and information a company must provide to investors, resale restrictions, and investment limits;
  • Take certain measures to reduce the risk of fraud, including having a reasonable basis for believing that a company complies with Regulation Crowdfunding and that the company has established means to keep accurate records of securities holders;
  • Make information that a company is required to disclose available to the public on its platform throughout the offering period and for a minimum of 21 days before any security may be sold in the offering;
  • Provide communication channels to permit discussions about offerings on the platform;
  • Provide disclosure to investors about the compensation the intermediary receives;
  • Accept an investment commitment from an investor only after that investor has opened an account;
  • Have a reasonable basis for believing an investor complies with the investment limitations;
  • Provide investors notices once they have made investment commitments and confirmations at or before completion of a transaction;
  • Comply with maintenance and transmission of funds requirements; and
  • Comply with completion, cancellation and reconfirmation of offerings requirements.

The rules also would prohibit intermediaries from engaging in certain activities, such as:

  • Providing access to their platforms to companies that they have a reasonable basis for believing have the potential for fraud or other investor protection concerns;
  • Having a financial interest in a company that is offering or selling securities on its platform unless the intermediary receives the financial interest as compensation for the services, subject to certain conditions; and
  • Compensating any person for providing the intermediary with personally identifiable information of any investor or potential investor.

Regulation Crowdfunding would contain certain rules that are specific to registered funding portals consistent with their more limited activities than that of a registered broker-dealer.  The rules would prohibit funding portals from, among other things: offering investment advice or making recommendations; soliciting purchases, sales or offers to buy securities; compensating promoters and other persons for solicitations or based on the sale of securities; and holding, possessing, or handling investor funds or securities.

The rules would provide a safe harbor under which funding portals could engage in certain activities consistent with these restrictions.  The rules also would require funding portals to maintain certain books and records related to their transactions and business.

# # #

SEC’s Title III Equity Crowdfunding Rules for Non-Accredited Investors Go into Effect May 16, 2016

31 Oct

The new SEC rules and proposed amendments are designed to assist smaller companies with capital formation and provide investors with the necessary protections

Chairman Mary Jo White Keeps Her Promise to Crowdfunding Industry, SEC Approves Title III Crowdfunding

Chairman Mary Jo White Keeps Her Promise to Crowdfunding Industry

By Robert Hoskins

Washington D.C. — The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the final Title III rules to permit companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding.  The Commission also voted to propose amendments to existing Securities Act rules to facilitate intrastate and regional securities offerings.  The new rules and proposed amendments are designed to assist smaller companies with capital formation and provide investors with additional protections.

Crowdfunding is an evolving method of raising capital that has been used to raise funds through the Internet for a variety of projects.  Title III of the JOBS Act created a federal exemption under the securities laws so that this type of funding method can be used to offer and sell securities.

“There is a great deal of enthusiasm in the marketplace for crowdfunding, and I believe these rules and proposed amendments provide smaller companies with innovative ways to raise capital and give investors the protections they need,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “With these rules, the Commission has completed all of the major rulemaking mandated under the JOBS Act.”

The final rules, Regulation Crowdfunding, permit individuals to invest in securities-based crowdfunding transactions subject to certain investment limits.  The rules also limit the amount of money an issuer can raise using the crowdfunding exemption, impose disclosure requirements on issuers for certain information about their business and securities offering, and create a regulatory framework for the broker-dealers and funding portals that facilitate the crowdfunding transactions.

The new crowdfunding rules and forms will be effective 180 days after they are published in the Federal Register. The forms enabling funding portals to register with the Commission will be effective Jan. 29, 2016. Final rules become effective May 16, 2016.

The Commission also proposed amendments to existing Securities Act Rule 147 to modernize the rule for intrastate offerings to further facilitate capital formation, including through intrastate crowdfunding provisions.  The proposal also would amend Securities Act Rule 504 to increase the aggregate amount of money that may be offered and sold pursuant to the rule from $1 million to $5 million and apply bad actor disqualifications to Rule 504 offerings to provide additional investor protection.

# # #

SEC’s Title III Equity Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors

28 Oct
SEC to Approve Final Title III Rules for Equity Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors

SEC to Approve Final Title III Rules for Equity Crowdfunding for Non-Accredited Investors

SEC’s Crowdfunding Title III Open Meeting:

The Securities and Exchange Commission will hold an Open Meeting on Friday, October 30, 2015 at 10:00 a.m., in the Auditorium, Room L-002.

SEC Title III Open Meeting Discussion Points:

Commission Stein, as duty officer, voted to consider the items listed for the Open Meeting in open session, and determined that Commission business required consideration earlier than one week from today.  No earlier notice of this Meeting was practicable.

View the Archived SEC’s Title III Crowdfunding Open Meeting Video:

https://www.sec.gov/news/openmeetings.shtml

# # #

SEC Approves Regulation A+ Rules under Title IV of the JOBS Act that Pre-empts State Law and Paves the Way for Selling Up to $50 Million of Equity Crowdfunding Securities to Unaccredited Investors

25 Mar

There are no general solicitation restrictions so companies can freely advertise, market and publicize offerings at demo days, trade shows, mass media and via social media networks

 By Robert Hoskins

Washington, D.C. – The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules unanimously to facilitate smaller companies’ access to capital.  The new rules provide investors with more investment choices.The new rules update and expand Title IV Regulation A+, an existing exemption from registration for smaller issuers of securities.

SEC Approves Regulation A+ Rules under Title IV of the JOBS Act

SEC Approves Regulation A+ Rules under Title IV of the JOBS Act

The rules are mandated by Title IV of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.The updated exemption will enable smaller companies to offer and sell up to $50 million of securities in a 12-month period, subject to eligibility, disclosure and reporting requirements.

“These new rules provide an effective, workable path to raising capital that also provides strong investor protections,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White.  “It is important for the Commission to continue to look for ways that our rules can facilitate capital-raising by smaller companies.”

The final rules, often referred to as Regulation A+, provide for two tiers of equity crowdfunding securities offerings:

  • Tier 1:  Offerings of securities of up to $20 million in a 12-month period, with not more than $6 million in offers by selling security-holders that are affiliates of the issuer; and
  • Tier 2: Offerings of securities of up to $50 million in a 12-month period, with not more than $15 million in offers by selling security-holders that are affiliates of the issuer.

Both Tiers are subject to certain basic requirements while Tier 2 offerings are also subject to additional disclosure and ongoing reporting requirements.

The final rules also provide for the preemption of state securities law registration and qualification requirements for securities offered or sold to “qualified purchasers” in Tier 2 offerings.

Tier 1 offerings will be subject to federal and state registration and qualification requirements, and issuers may take advantage of the coordinated review program developed by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).

The rules will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

###

SEC Chairman Mary Jo White Speech on Evolving with New Financial Challenges in 2014

3 Feb

A Roadmap to New Market Technology, Financial Products, Capital Formation  and Vigorous Enforcement in 2014

41st Annual Securities Regulation Institute Coronado, Calif

February 3, 2014 – For nearly 80 years, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been playing a vital role in the economic strength of our nation. Year after year, the agency has steadfastly sought to protect investors, make it possible for companies of all sizes to raise the funds needed to grow, and to ensure that our markets are operating fairly and efficiently.

The SEC’s 2014 Mission:

But, while commitment to this mission has remained constant and strong over the years, the world in which we operate continuously changes, sometimes dramatically.

When the Commission’s formative statutes were drafted, no one was prepared for today’s market technology or the sheer speed at which trades are now executed. No one dreamed of the complex financial products that are traded today. And, not even science fiction writers would have bet that individuals would so soon communicate instantaneously in so many different ways.

It is because we operate in this vast, fast, and ever-evolving securities market that the Commission, as the regulator of that market, must constantly adapt in order to continue to be effective.

With that in mind, I thought I would speak this morning about some of the transformative changes at the SEC in 2014 and, while doing that, also preview a few of the specific rulemakings and other initiatives that I expect to be on our 2014 agenda.

I. Evolving with Market Technology

While there have been many significant changes since the SEC’s inception, few have had as much impact on our markets as the advances in technology. The manual trades on the exchange floor of the 1930s have given way to trading that is high-tech, high-speed, and widely dispersed among many different venues, some of which did not even exist when I last gave this address, but which now occupy significant parts of the market landscape.

And that landscape changes and evolves further every day.

It is not only our job to keep pace with this rapidly changing environment, but, where possible, also to harness and leverage advances in technology to better carry out our mission.

And, despite significant resource challenges, we are doing precisely that across the agency. Let me give you a few examples.

NEAT

Our Quantitative Analytics Unit in our National Exam Program has, for example, developed a revolutionary new instrument called “NEAT,” which stands for “National Exam Analytics Tool.”

With NEAT, our examiners are able to access and systematically analyze massive amounts of trading data from firms in a fraction of the time it has taken in years past. In one recent exam, our exam team used NEAT to analyze in 36 hours literally 17 million transactions executed by one investment adviser.

Among its many uses, NEAT can search for evidence of potential insider trading by comparing a database of significant corporate activity like mergers against the companies in which a registrant is trading and analyze how the registrant traded at the time of those significant events. NEAT can review all the securities the registrant traded and quickly identify the trading patterns of the registrant for suspicious activity.

In 2014, our examiners will be using the NEAT analytics to identify signs of not only possible insider trading, but also front running, window dressing, improper allocations of investment opportunities, and other kinds of misconduct.

MIDAS

This past year, we also brought on-line another transformative tool that enables us to collect and sift through massive amounts of trading data across markets instantaneously, an exercise that once took the staff weeks or months. We call this technology MIDAS – the Market Information Data Analytics System.

Every day, MIDAS collects one billion records of trading data, time-stamped to the microsecond. Previously, only sophisticated market participants had access to this type and amount of trading data and even fewer were able to process it. At the SEC of 2014, we are aggregating this data and presenting it on our website along with a wide range of analyses. We have made these analyses readily accessible on your computer or even your tablet, with data available in clear, easy-to-read charts and graphs.

MIDAS is already revealing some important, data-based realities that may resolve some of the speculations about behavior in today’s market structure. Just earlier this month, for example, the SEC staff published an analysis showing that for the most part the advent of public transparency for “odd lot” trades does not seem to correspond with a decline in such trades. The staff noted that this result suggests that a lack of transparency may not have been one of the drivers for breaking trades into odd lots, which some observers have suggested is a technique to hide trading activity.

In the coming weeks, we are expecting to post further staff analysis of off-exchange trading, a review of research on high-frequency trading, and a data series on depth-of-book liquidity. I encourage you, after my remarks, to take a look at all of this – right on sec.gov. This is not your father’s SEC – or your mother’s or even your older brother or sister’s. In this rapidly changing environment, we must stay on top of advances in technology. NEAT and MIDAS are important tools that will help us keep pace with evolving technology.

Operational Integrity

Our approach to technology in 2014, however, is not limited to building systems like these for us to keep pace with the evolving technology of the markets. We are also focused on ensuring that the technology used by exchanges and other market participants is deployed and used responsibly in a way that reduces the risk of market disruptions that can harm investors and undermine confidence in the integrity of our markets.

Most recently, following the interruption of trading in Nasdaq-listed securities last August, I met with the leaders of the equities and options exchanges. At my urging, they pledged to work toward enhancing the integrity of market systems, including the critical market infrastructures that can prove to be “single points of failure,” such as public feeds of quotes and trades.

They have since been working hard to develop and implement such measures, and I expect more to be done to address these vulnerabilities in 2014.

In addition, I anticipate that the Commission’s 2014 rulemaking agenda will include consideration of the adoption of Regulation SCI – which stands for Systems Compliance and Integrity. As some of you know, Regulation SCI would put in place new, stricter requirements for the use of technology by exchanges, large alternative trading systems, clearing agencies, and securities information processors. Regulation SCI can be – and should be – the market-side counterpart to the intermediary-focused Market Access Rule adopted by the Commission in 2010 to better regulate how broker-dealers manage the technological and other risks associated with direct access to markets.

II. Evolving with New Financial Products

It is not just technology that has changed over the life of the agency. So too have the financial products that investors, businesses, and other market participants use.

OTC Derivatives

In 1990, for instance, few people would have heard of a credit default swap or any of a number of the other products that make up today’s over-the-counter derivatives market. Yet two decades later, such derivatives comprise a multi-trillion dollar market.

The Dodd-Frank Act directed the SEC – for security-based swaps – and the CFTC – for all other swaps – to create an entirely new regulatory regime for this massive market. Once this regime is fully in place, many over-the-counter derivatives will be traded and cleared on venues accessible by a wide range of market participants, with trade data made readily available to regulators and disseminated to the public. What was once an opaque, bilateral market will largely become a transparent, centrally cleared market.

The Commission has proposed substantially all of the rules required to implement this new regulatory framework. With our proposal for the cross-border application of this framework last year, I expect the Commission in 2014 to move forward with finalizing and implementing these rules.

Money Market Funds

Even when a product is not as new as an over-the-counter derivative, the use of the product may reveal previously unanticipated risks that suggest an evolution in our regulatory approach is warranted. The recent financial crisis provided an unwelcome laboratory for a number of these products.

Money market funds, for example, have for decades been an important part of the financial marketplace. As we saw in the financial crisis, however, they can be exposed to substantially heightened redemptions if investors believe that a fund is about to lose value. The resulting instability in their value can harm investors as well as the entities that turn to money market funds for financing.

In 2010, the SEC took a first step to address this heightened redemption risk by making the funds more resilient. The rule amendments adopted by the Commission in 2010 were designed to reduce the interest rate, credit, and liquidity risks of money market fund portfolios. The Commission said at the time that it would continue to consider whether further, more fundamental changes to money market fund regulation is warranted.

Currently, the Commission is considering two significant proposals for additional reform that were put out for comment last June. One is a floating NAV for prime institutional money market funds – the type of fund that experienced problems during the financial crisis. The other proposal would require money market funds under certain circumstances to impose a liquidity fee and permit the imposition of redemption gates. This proposal is designed to stop a “run” and limit the resulting instability. These proposals could be adopted alone or together.

We have received hundreds of letters on the proposals with a wide range of differing views that we are reviewing closely. Completing these reforms with a final rule is a critical priority for the Commission in the relatively near term of 2014.

Securitization

The financial crisis also revealed how another product – asset-backed securities – could create undue risks to market integrity and investors. Shortly after the financial crisis, the Commission proposed a new set of disclosure rules for asset-backed securities, which have evolved with the Dodd-Frank Act. Finalizing these new disclosure rules remains an important priority for the Commission in 2014.

A related effort is the rules we are required to adopt jointly with several other agencies governing the retention of a specified amount risk by the sponsor of an asset-backed security. We re-proposed those rules late last year, and finalizing them will be a priority for 2014.

III. Evolving with New Paths to Capital Formation

Just as we have seen market technology and products evolve over time, we also have seen massive change in the ease and speed with which information and capital flows. This, in turn, has led companies, investors, Congress, the SEC and others to reconsider how companies can seek capital and communicate with potential investors. Indeed, we are at the start of what promises to be a period of transformative change in capital formation.

In 2013, according to our estimates, capital raised in public offerings totaled $1.3 trillion, as compared to $1.6 trillion raised in offerings not registered with the SEC, with over 65% raised in new and ongoing Rule 506 offerings. So the private offering markets already rival the public markets in terms of capital raised.

And, in 2012, Congress passed the JOBS Act, directing the Commission to implement rules that will have a significant impact on the private offering markets. I know you will be hearing a fair amount about this subject on your panels today, so let me provide just a brief overview of what the SEC will be working on in this space in 2014.

In July, the Commission adopted rules implementing the JOBS Act mandate to lift the ban on general solicitation, and the rules became effective on September 23, 2013. Although existing Rule 506 continues to be a popular method for capital raising, issuers are taking advantage of the new rule. Preliminary information collected by our Division of Economic and Risk Analysis shows that through December 31, approximately 500 offerings were conducted, raising approximately $5.8 billion.

Then, in October and December of last year, the Commission proposed rules to implement the JOBS Act mandates with respect to crowdfunding and Regulation A. While the final framework of these two exemptions is yet to be determined by the Commission, if the enthusiasm for them is any indication, I expect strong interest in raising capital through these mechanisms.

Together, these changes should provide new and expanded ways for companies of all sizes, but particularly smaller companies, to raise capital. The final implementation of crowdfunding and an updated Regulation A is an important priority in 2014, and I expect that the Commission, after thorough consideration of all comments, will move expeditiously to finalize these rules.

These rule changes for the private offering market are just the start of the Commission’s efforts. For the changes demand that the Commission stay focused on the ongoing implementation of the exemptions, what market practices develop, how much capital is being raised, how investors are impacted, and whether fraud or other misconduct is occurring in these markets.

So, staff from across the agency is also set to monitor the developments in the markets following all of these changes. An agency-wide working group has been formed to monitor offering practices and other developments in the Rule 506 market. I have also directed the staff to form similar working groups for both crowdfunding and the new Regulation A.

One key step in the effort to improve our monitoring of Rule 506 offerings will be the adoption of final rules – also proposed in July – relating to amendments to Regulation D, Form D and Rule 156. I know that you have a session later today during which you will discuss these proposed amendments, and I know, from the comment file, what many of you think. We are considering those comments very carefully. Advancing these important rules, after due consideration of the comments we have received, is another important priority for me in 2014.

Disclosure Reform

As we move to complete our rulemaking in the private offering area, it is important for the SEC not to lose focus on the public markets.

I recently spoke about some of my ideas about disclosure reform and in December the staff issued a report mandated by the JOBS Act that gives an overview of Regulation S-K and the staff’s preliminary recommendations as to how to update our disclosure rules. I have asked the staff to begin an active review of our disclosure rules.

We can all probably identify particular disclosure requirements that we might eliminate or modify, but that is not the kind of review and reform I am primarily focused on – and it certainly is not the kind of thoughtful and comprehensive review that I think our disclosure rules demand. I believe we should rethink not only the type of information we ask companies to disclose, but also how that information is presented, where and how that information is disclosed, and how we can take advantage of technology to facilitate investors’ access to information and make it more meaningful to them.

I have asked the staff to seek input from issuers, investors, and other market participants in 2014 as part of this effort, and I encourage all of you to share your views and ideas. The ultimate objective is for the Commission to improve the disclosure regime for the benefit of both companies and investors.

IV. Vigorous Enforcement in 2014

The agency’s evolution in response to a rapidly changing market is not confined to rulemaking or market oversight. We have also found it necessary to adapt our policies, priorities, and approach with respect to enforcement as well. And no discussion of the SEC in 2014 would be complete without my touching on some of these changes and giving you some idea of what to expect this year. The coming year promises to be an incredibly active year in enforcement, as we continue to vigorously pursue wrongdoers and bring enforcement actions across the entire industry spectrum.

Admissions

As you know, for many years, the SEC, like virtually every other civil law enforcement agency, typically did not require entities or individuals to admit wrongdoing in order to enter into a settlement. This no admit/no deny settlement protocol makes a great deal of sense and has served the public interest very well. More and quicker settlements generally mean that investors receive as much (and sometimes more) compensation than they would after a successful trial – and without the litigation risk or the inevitable delay that comes with every trial. Settlements also can achieve more certain and swifter civil penalties, and bars of wrongdoers from the industry or from serving as officers or directors of public companies – all very important remedies for deterrence and the public interest.

So, why modify the no admit/no deny protocol at all? It is not a new question and one that many of you continue to ask. Even before my arrival as Chair, the Enforcement Division decided to require admissions where parallel criminal or other regulatory cases were brought with admissions. Why? Because admissions can achieve a greater measure of public accountability, which can be important to the public’s confidence in the strength and credibility of law enforcement and the safety of our markets. It is not surprising that there has also been renewed public and media focus on the accountability that comes with admissions following the financial crisis, where so many lost so much.

And it should be no surprise that my views on admissions were formed long before recent events and were shaped by my time as United States Attorney. In the criminal realm, guilty pleas are accompanied by admissions of guilt, which eliminate any doubt about the conduct of the defendant and provide additional accountability for the crime.

As United States Attorney, I made the decision that companies should, in certain circumstances, admit their wrongdoing, even if they were not criminally charged, but where there was a special need for public accountability and acceptance of responsibility. That is why, when I negotiated the first deferred prosecution for a company, back in 1994, I required an admission of wrongdoing, and I brought that mindset to the SEC when I became Chair last April.

After studying and discussing the issue with the staff and my fellow Commissioners, I decided to modify the SEC’s protocol to demand admissions in an expanded category of settlements. That change occurred in June and you have begun to see it play out in a number of cases. When we first announced the change in approach, we outlined broad parameters of the types of cases in which we will consider requiring admissions as part of any settlement. And now, we have a number of cases with admissions that illuminate those categories.

So, for example, we have said we will consider admissions in cases involving egregious conduct, where large numbers of investors were harmed, where the markets or investors were placed at significant risk, where the wrongdoer poses a particular future threat to investors or the markets, or where the defendant engaged in unlawful obstruction of the Commission’s processes. Just last month, we required three brokerage subsidiaries to admit to a scheme in which they repeatedly deceived their customers about their compensation on securities transactions – and in some cases even provided falsified trading data to their customers in an effort to avoid detection. The conduct was egregious and harmed many investors, thereby justifying admissions.

Similarly, we demanded that a bank admit that its internal controls were deficient in failing to detect and prevent, and then disclose to its board and investors, massive losses by some of its traders, thereby putting millions of shareholders at risk and resulting in inaccurate public filings.

To be sure there was no ambiguity about the misconduct of a defendant who was continuing to deal with investors, we required a hedge fund adviser to not only agree to a bar from the securities industry for five years, but to also admit to misuse of more than one hundred million dollars of fund assets in order to pay his personal taxes through a personal loan that was not timely disclosed to investors.

As we go forward in 2014, you will see more cases involving admissions. When and how we decide to require admissions will continue to evolve and be subject to further articulation in the cases we bring and as we discuss it publicly.

Financial Fraud

This year will likely see us complete our docket of major investigations stemming from the financial crisis. As we do, our focus and resources will naturally turn to other priorities. This shift has already begun.

Last fall, the Enforcement Division formed a Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force. This dedicated group has very talented accountants and attorneys who will broaden and thereby improve the way we look at financial reporting misconduct.

The Task Force is pursuing a number of goals, including building a deep understanding of the state of financial reporting fraud – not just why it happens, because there is plenty of learning on that question, but how it happens and in what specific areas.

As you would expect, we look closely at the auditors in every financial reporting case, but we are also closely focusing on senior executives for possible misconduct warranting charges. The message is that critical accounting issues are the responsibility of all those involved in the preparation and review of financial disclosures.

Market Integrity

As I have discussed, technology has worked a fundamental shift in the way securities are priced and traded – a shift that has only accelerated in the past several years. In the last two years, we have tried to send a strong enforcement message to the exchanges and alternative trading systems that play critical roles in securities market transactions that they must operate fairly, within the rules and with a close eye on their responsibilities to safeguard their technology. Cases have been brought against an exchange that inadequately tested its IPO systems and was therefore unable to handle a highly anticipated IPO and then did not follow its own rules in the aftermath; against a different exchange for compliance failures that gave certain customers an improper head start on trading information; and against a dark pool for failing to protect the confidential trading information of its subscribers. When technology presents new opportunities for innovation, changes must be deployed responsibly, after careful testing, and within the rules and parameters of the trading environment. Market structure integrity actions will remain a priority in 2014.

As you will hear when Andrew Ceresney, our Director of Enforcement speaks to you over the coming days, there are many other enforcement priorities for 2014 that you should be aware of. These include, but are by no means limited to, FCPA, insider trading, and microcap fraud. It will, in short, be a very busy year in enforcement.

Conclusion

I hope I have given you a sense of some of the things we will be doing in 2014 and a flavor for how dramatically and vibrantly things have changed at the SEC as our world and markets have changed. There is more, of course, we will be doing and considering in the coming year, both on our own initiative and as required by the Dodd-Frank and JOBS Acts – equity market structure, duties of brokers-dealers and investment advisers, the management and responsibilities of clearing agencies and credit rating agencies, Dodd-Frank executive compensation rulemaking, target date funds, systemic risk issues, broker-dealer financial responsibility, and more.

It is a constant, but always exciting, challenge to keep pace and indeed to accurately see around the next corner for the newest market developments or another innovative variant of, or new venue for, fraud. I now am privileged to have an up-close and personal role in all of this. And it is my strong conviction that the women and men of the SEC are, as has always been true, more than up to these challenges. As Alan Levenson said in January 2003, almost eleven years to the day when he spoke about the strength of the SEC: “It was the creativity of the staff… [they] had a drive and a genuine interest in protecting investors and the public interest….” The challenges and tools change, but creativity, drive, and commitment to the mission continue unchanged at the SEC in 2014. Alan Levenson, I think, would be very proud.

# # #

SEC Lifts Ban on General Solicitation; Implements First Phase of JOBS Act for Reg. D, Title II Accredited Investors

22 Sep

SEC Lifts 80-Year Ban on the General Solicitation of Private Placement Equity Investments


By 
Robert Hoskins

Today, the United States finally inched its way toward the full implementation of the JOBS Act passed in April 2012, required by federal law to be in place by January 2013, but still not fully realized as intended by President Obama and the both houses of the U.S. Congress.

SEC Crowdfunding Call for Comments on November 15, 2013

SEC Crowdfunding Call for Comments on November 15, 2013

“We want this new market and the private markets in general to thrive in a safe and efficient manner, and these rules we adopted and proposed are designed to facilitate that objective,” said Mary Jo White, Chairwoman of the SEC. “As we fulfill our mission to facilitate capital formation and maintain fair and efficient markets, the Commission must always focus on strong investor protections.”

Until the general solicitation ban was lifted, hedge funds, VCs, and startups had to quietly raise that money, soliciting by word of mouth and other forms of private communication. Now companies can buy ads, launch PR campaigns, leverage social media and openly announce that they’re seeking investors.

The addition of general solicitation is expected to fuel a new cottage industry of investor matching-making websites that aim to broaden the investment pool to financial stalwarts outside the stanchly protected investment circles of Silicon Valley.

“With general solicitation it will be much easier for investors to find companies they are passionate about supporting,” said Mike Norman of crowdfunding website, WeFunder. The new rule will hopefully open up the capital-starved startup market to the majority of investors. According to WeFunder’s website, only 3% of the US’s 8 million accredited investors are active in the tech startup space.

For example, leading startup investing platform, RockThePost, announced last week that its equity crowdfunding website will provide the following equity crowdfunding investment services:

  1. Prominent featuring of startups publicly announcing investment rounds
  2. Investor verification system that shifts the burden off startups
  3. Secure transactions where Escrow accounts act as a safe haven for early committed investors
  4. Full transparency – third party identity checks and legal business verification, crowdsourced due diligence, bank-level security
  5. Smart matching of investors to startup investments that match their preferences

Equity crowdfunding sites such as AngelistCircleup, CrowdfunderFundersClubRockThePost and Wefunder are important the nascent industry because according to the Center for Venture Research, only 258,000 investors have made an angel investment out of the 8.7 million accredited investor households eligible to invest in the U.S.

The general solicitation ban lift will allow startups to publicly fundraise via methods such as equity crowdfunding, harnessing the power of the internet and social media to reach potential investors in all corners of the country.

According to a Forbes article, many states have decided not to wait on the SEC. Kansas, the first state to enact laws requiring the registration of sales of securities to the general public 100 years ago, turned out to be the first in the U.S. to enact an “intrastate” Invest Kansas Exemption law. The state of Georgia passed the Invest Georgia Exemption that provides even more freedom for crowdfunding than the Kansas exemption. North Carolina’s House passed a crowdfunding bill that is expected to move to the full legislature in an updated form and be signed into law next year. The state of Washington is currently teeing up crowdfunding legislation and other states will likely follow suit.

Tanya Prive, a co-founder of RockthePost, points out that “One of the other issues I’ve seen is that there are plenty of startups with a large customer base that they cannot tap into for capital support under existing regulations. These people are the biggest fans and evangelists of the brand, who might be first in line to invest. Once the user base is able to engage with their beloved company in fundraising mode via an investment crowdfunding platform, the company will be able to capitalize on the crowd’s interest in their success and accelerate the fundraising process by converting customers into investors.”

“So although there are strings attached to the ruling, lifting the ban on general solicitation – an 80-year-old rule – will help investors connect with entrepreneurs, and vice versa. The decision also weighs in the favor of entrepreneurs and investors who live outside places like Silicon Valley, where old-school networking and personal connections are how financing deals typically happen,” said Eric Markowitz, crowdfunding reporter for Inc. Magazine. “By lifting the ban, entrepreneurs living outside traditional tech hubs may find it easier to connect with investors, raise money, and grow their start-ups without having to necessarily relocate.”

Although large players like private equity firms Bain Capital and Blackstone Group LP could take advantage of the chance to use television ad campaigns, many lawyers and regulators close to the industry have said that they expect smaller funds with fewer resources to test the new rule first.

“By allowing issuers to solicit to a broader group of potential investors, the SEC has showed its commitment to democratizing the investing process and putting an end to yesterday’s ‘old boy’ investor networks,” said Barry Silbert, founder and chief executive of SecondMarket Inc., a marketplace for private shares.

The next important date to watch for is October 31, 2013, when the 2nd wave of SEC crowdfunding guidelines are expected to be issued for Title III investors that will allow unaccredited investors to participate in private placement investments.

# # #

More News on the SEC’s New General Solicitation Rules:

  1. SEC Lifts Ban On General Solicitation, Allowing Startups

  2. SEC Approves JOBS Act Requirement to Lift General Solicitation Ban

  3. Starting Today, Startups Can Broadcast Their Fundraising From the Rooftops

  4. The General Solicitation Ban Lift Can Change Startup Investing Forever

  5. Crowdfunding Will Flourish Regardless Of What The SEC Does

  6. Game Changer: SEC Lifts General Solicitation Ban

  7. Boon for Start-ups: SEC Lifts Ban on General Solicitation

  8. SEC lifts longtime advertising ban for hedge funds, others

  9. SEC Lifts Ban on General Solicitation in Certain Private Placements

  10. S.E.C. Lifts Advertising Ban on Private Investments

  11. SEC Votes to Ease 80-Year-Old Ban on Private-Investment Ads

  12. SEC Lifts Ban on Hedge Fund Ads

  13. SEC Lifts 80-year-Old Ban on Advertisements for Private Investors

  14. SEC lifts advertising ban on private investments: How it affects you

  15. SEC Votes to Lift Ban on Hedge Fund Advertising

Mary Jo White, SEC Approves JOBS Act Requirement to Lift General Solicitation Ban on Crowdfunding for Accredited Investors

10 Jul

SEC Eliminates the Prohibition on General Solicitation and General Advertising in Certain Crowdfunding Fundraising Offerings

By Robert Hoskins

The Securities and Exchange Commission today adopted a new rule to implement a JOBS Act requirement to lift the ban on general solicitation or general advertising for certain private securities offerings.

SEC Approves JOBS Act Requirement to Lift General Solicitation Ban

SEC Approves JOBS Act Requirement to Lift General Solicitation Ban

New SEC Rulemaking on Crowdfunding Guidelines for General Solicitation for Accredited Investors

Rule 506

The final rule approved today makes changes to Rule 506 to permit issuers to use general solicitation and general advertising to offer their securities provided that:

  • The issuer takes reasonable steps to verify that the investors are accredited investors.
  • All purchasers of the securities fall within one of the categories of persons who are accredited investors under an existing rule (Rule 501 of Regulation D) or the issuer reasonably believes that the investors fall within one of the categories at the time of the sale of the securities.

Under existing Rule 501, a person qualifies as an accredited investor if he or she has either:

  • An individual net worth or joint net worth with a spouse that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, excluding the value (and any related indebtedness) of a primary residence.
  • An individual annual income that exceeded $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or a joint annual income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years, and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year.

The determination of the reasonableness of the steps taken to verify an accredited investor is an objective assessment by an issuer. An issuer is required to consider the facts and circumstances of each purchaser and the transaction. Nevertheless, in response to commenters’ requests, the final rule provides a non-exclusive list of methods that issuers may use to satisfy the verification requirement for individual investors.

The methods described in the final rule include the following:

  • Reviewing copies of any IRS form that reports the income of the purchaser and obtaining a written representation that the purchaser will likely continue to earn the necessary income in the current year.
  • Receiving a written confirmation from a registered broker-dealer, SEC-registered investment adviser, licensed attorney, or certified public accountant that such entity or person has taken reasonable steps to verify the purchaser’s accredited status.

The existing provisions of Rule 506 as a separate exemption are not affected by the final rule. Issuers conducting Rule 506 offerings without the use of general solicitation or general advertising can continue to conduct securities offerings in the same manner and aren’t subject to the new verification rule.

Rule 144A

Under the final rule, securities sold pursuant to Rule 144A can be offered to persons other than QIBs, including by means of general solicitation, provided that the securities are sold only to persons whom the seller and any person acting on behalf of the seller reasonably believe to be QIBs.

Form D

The final rule amends Form D, which is the notice that issuers must file with the SEC when they sell securities under Regulation D. The revised form adds a separate box for issuers to check if they are claiming the new Rule 506 exemption that would permit general solicitation or general advertising.

What’s Next

The rule amendments become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

# # #

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council Laments the SEC’s Blockade of Crowdfunding Capital Access Opportunities

8 Apr

By Robert Hoskins

A leading organization that represents entrepreneurs and small business owners expressed frustration with the dawdling pace of Jumpstart Our Business Start Up Act  (JOBS Act) implementation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The JOBS Act was signed by President Barack Obama one year ago today.  The SEC has not issued one rule to implement this important law that will improve capital access for entrepreneurs. Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) President & CEO Karen Kerrigan , who was at the bill signing ceremony and whose group helped to spark the legislation and lead it to passage, said the SEC’s performance in missing key deadlines is inexcusable.

Small Business & Entrrepreneurship Council Laments SEC's Blockade to Crowdfunding Capital Access

Small Business & Entrrepreneurship Council Laments SEC’s Blockade to Crowdfunding Capital Access

“The SEC is undermining this important capital formation initiative that was supported by an overwhelming majority in Congress. Entrepreneurs and high-potential businesses that can bring our nation back to robust levels of job creation and growth are being undermined. There really is no excuse for the SEC’s lack of progress,” said Kerrigan.

Among other changes to outdated securities laws, the JOBS Act makes debt and equity-based crowdfunding legal.  In late February, SBE Council led a daylong series of briefings in Washington to update White House officials, Capitol Hill staff and the SEC on the state of the industry and the investor protections that have been built out within this transparent marketplace for accessing capital.  Crowdfunding experts and entrepreneurs also made it clear that access to capital remains a critical issue for small business owners.

“While lending standards have eased some, according to the latest Fed senior loan officer survey, getting credit remains a difficult task for small businesses. For good measure, it’s worth noting that venture capital investment took a notable dip in 2012. Access to financing remains the biggest hurdle for most entrepreneurs, which makes crowdfunding a critical option in the marketplace,” noted SBE Council Chief Economist Raymond Keating .

At her U.S. Senate nomination hearings for SEC Chair last month, Mary Jo White pledged to make JOBS Act implementation a priority once she steps into her new role.  The Senate Banking Committee overwhelmingly approved her nomination, and the full Senate is expected to vote following their return next week.

“We hope Mary Jo White will move quickly to dislodge the proposed rules. After all, these are still proposals open to public comment.  Our international competitors are going with our ideas in the crowdfunding space and are now moving ahead of us,” said Kerrigan.

She noted that Italy passed a bill in the fall of 2012, and has already issued it first rulemakings this week.  The UK approved a crowdfunding platform, and debt-based crowdfunding is up and running as well.

Mary Jo White Senate Hearing Testimony Lists JOBS Act Crowdfunding Rules as 1st on SEC Agenda

11 Mar

Testimony of Mary Jo White

Nominee for Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Before the United States Senate Committee on

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

March 12, 2013

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member Crapo, and Members of the Committee:

It is my privilege to appear before you today as President Obama’s nominee to be the thirty-first Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mary Jo White Confirmation Hearing Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Before the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

Mary Jo White Confirmation Hearing Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Before the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

There is no higher calling than public service. As the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for almost nine years, I worked very hard on behalf of the American people investigating, prosecuting, and punishing those who committed crimes. From white collar criminals to terrorists – regardless of the complexity of the case or the identity of the defendant – we always strove to do the right thing and to vigorously enforce the law. Today, I am honored by the prospect of potentially returning to public service as the Chair of the SEC to help carry out its essential mission.

While I served as United States Attorney, our office worked closely with the SEC investigating and prosecuting violations of the federal securities laws by both companies and individuals. Through that experience, I became a strong admirer of the expertise, independence, and commitment of the Commission and its staff. I fully appreciate the critical role the SEC plays as the primary regulator of our capital markets and as a strong advocate on behalf of investors. Today, in the wake of the financial crisis and in the midst of implementing the substantial legislative mandates of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), the SEC’s importance and scope of responsibilities are greater than ever.

If confirmed, I will vigorously embrace and carry out the SEC’s mission to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. The SEC’s mission has a tri-partite mandate, but the component parts should not be viewed as in conflict with each other. It is the responsibility of the Chair and the Commission to take the long-term view, balance the objectives when necessary, and seek to fulfill all parts of its critical mission. Then, our markets can thrive and investors will be protected and benefit.

As was true when Chairman Schapiro was first before this Committee in 2009, this too is a crucial time for the SEC. Although the worst of the recent financial crisis may be behind us, none of us can be complacent – least of all the SEC, which has faced a number of its own challenges. Under the leadership of Chairman Schapiro and Chairman Walter, the SEC has made significant strides to strengthen its examination and enforcement functions, improve its capacity to assess risks, and enhance its technology.

Our markets, however, are continuously evolving, and the technology of today is most certainly not the technology of tomorrow. Fast-paced and constantly changing markets require constant monitoring and analysis, and when issues are identified, the investing public deserves appropriate and timely regulatory and enforcement responses.

I am acutely aware that the position of Chair of the SEC carries with it heavy responsibilities and many challenges. But I commit to this Committee and the American public that, if confirmed, I will work tirelessly and do everything in my power to effectively lead the SEC in fulfilling its mission. Let me very briefly highlight a few early priorities were I to be confirmed.

First, I would work with the staff and my fellow Commissioners to finish, in as timely and smart a way as possible, the rulemaking mandates contained in the Dodd-Frank Act and JOBS Act. The SEC needs to get the rules right, but it also needs to get them done. To complete these legislative mandates expeditiously must be an immediate imperative for the SEC.

With respect to rulemaking, rigorous economic analysis is important and should inform and guide the decisions that are made. Although challenging – particularly in the quantification of benefits – in my view, the SEC should seek to assess, from the outset, the economic impacts of its contemplated rulemaking. Such transparent and robust analysis, including consideration of the costs and benefits, will help ensure that effective and optimal solutions are achieved without unnecessary burdens or competitive harm. If confirmed, I would continue the efforts of the Commission to ensure that the SEC  performs robust analysis in connection with its rules and in a manner that does not undermine the SEC’s ability to carry out its mandate to protect investors and our capital markets.

Second, if confirmed, it will be a high priority throughout my tenure to further strengthen the enforcement function of the SEC – it must be fair, but it also must be bold and unrelenting. Investors and all market participants need to know that the playing field of our markets is level and that all wrongdoers – individual and institutional, of whatever position or size – will be aggressively and successfully pursued by the SEC. Strong enforcement is necessary for investor confidence and is essential to the integrity of our financial markets. Proceeding aggressively against wrongdoers is not only the right thing to do, but it also will serve to deter the sharp and unlawful practices of others who must be made to think twice – and stop in their tracks – rather than risk discovery, pursuit, and punishment by the SEC.

Third, the SEC needs to be in a position to 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. High frequency trading, complex trading algorithms, dark pools, and intricate new order types raise many questions and concerns. Are they problematic for retail and non-institutional investors? Do they result in unnecessary volatility, or create an uneven playing field? Or do these modern-day features bring benefits such as efficiency, price reduction, and healthy competition to our markets? Do they do all of these things? The experts and studies to date have not been consistent or definitive in their observations and findings about whether and to what extent harm is caused by the current market structure and practices. There must be a sense of urgency brought to addressing these issues to understand their impact on investors and the quality of our markets so that the appropriate regulatory responses can be made. If confirmed, I will work not only to ensure that the SEC has the cutting-edge technology and expertise necessary to enable it to keep pace with the markets and its responsibilities to monitor, regulate, and enforce the securities laws, but also to see around the corner and anticipate issues.

There are, of course, many other important areas within the jurisdiction of the Commission: from money market funds to private fund advisers, from credit rating agencies to clearing agencies, from the appropriate standards and regulations governing the conduct of broker-dealers and investment advisers when providing investment advice to retail customers to how to make public issuer disclosures more meaningful and understandable to investors, to name just a few. If confirmed, I would focus on these and the many other challenges facing the SEC.

In conclusion, it would be my privilege and honor to work with the men and women of the Commission and this Committee to help carry out the SEC’s mission. Thank you for considering me to serve in this capacity and for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would be happy to answer your questions.

 # # #

Please click here to help us Crowdfund this website continued editorial development.

Please click here to help us Crowdfund this website’s editorial development

%d bloggers like this: