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SEC 主席证词:数字货币、VIE、底稿、SPAC 等等(全文)

投行VCPE部落 | 达观天下 2021/10/11 09:49

SEC 主 席 2021年10月6日国会证词(全文)

中文翻译仅供参考,英文原文为准

新知达人, SEC 主席证词:数字货币、VIE、底稿、SPAC 等等(全文)

Gary Gensler 是美国证券交易委员会主席。 这篇文章基于他最近在美国众议院金融服务委员会的证词。 帖子中表达的观点是主席 Gensler 的观点,不一定反映证券交易委员会或工作人员的观点。

下午好,沃特斯主席、麦克亨利高级成员和委员会成员。 我很荣幸今天第二次以证券交易委员会主席的身份出现在你们面前。 按照惯例,我会指出我的观点是我自己的,我不是代表我的其他专员或工作人员发言。

我们有幸拥有世界上最大、最先进、最具创新性的资本市场。 美国资本市场占全球资本市场的 38%。 [1] 这甚至超过了我们对世界国内生产总值的影响,我们在世界国内生产总值中占有 24% 的份额。 [2]

此外,与其他经济体的市场参与者相比,公司和投资者更多地使用我们的资本市场。 例如,债务资本市场占美国非金融企业融资的 80%。相比之下,世界其他地区对此类企业的贷款近 80% 来自银行。 [3]

由于我们提供强有力的投资者保护,我们的资本市场继续支持美国在世界舞台上的竞争力。

我们通过效率、透明度和竞争使我们的市场成为世界上最好的市场。 这些特点降低了发行人的资本成本,提高了投资者的回报,降低了经济租金,并使市场民主化。 对竞争的关注体现在 SEC 工作的每个部分,尤其是在市场结构方面。

不过,我们不能认为我们卓越的资本市场是理所当然的。 新的金融技术继续改变投资者和企业的金融面貌。 进入我们市场的散户投资者比以往任何时候都多。 其他国家也在发展深度竞争的资本市场。

SEC 是一个了不起的组织。 在不到五个月的时间里,我认识了 12 个办公室的 4,400 名敬业人员中的许多人。 我们的机构几乎涵盖了 110 万亿美元资本市场的每个部分。 这些市场影响着许多美国人的生活,无论他们是为自己的未来投资、为抵押贷款、获得汽车贷款,还是在一家利用我们资本市场的公司工作。 我们与筹集资金的公司以及介于企业和投资者之间的主要各方合作,包括会计师、审计师和投资经理。

虽然我们在 8 月授权自愿返回办公室,但我们现在基本上已经远离了大约 19 个月,并将保持这种状态至少到 2022 年 1 月 3 日。美国公众。

在本证词中,我将介绍 SEC 统一议程中的一些广泛主题, [4] 在结束之前 ,我将简要 介绍我们的执法和检查部门以及我们的资源。

  • 市场结构

  • 预测数据分析

  • 发行人和发行人披露

  • 基金与投资管理

市场结构

我将从市场结构开始。 在每一代人中,我们都必须考虑如何重新审视我们的规则集,以更好地提高我们市场的效率和竞争。

当市场透明且具有竞争力时,市场才能发挥最佳作用。 发行人和投资者都从这种竞争中受益,因为它降低了资本成本。

我已要求员工查看我们 110 万亿美元资本市场中的五个基于市场结构的项目:国债市场、非国债固定收益市场、股票市场、基于证券的掉期和加密资产市场。

国债市场

首先,让我转向国债市场。 这个 22 万亿美元的市场 [5] 是我们整个资本市场以及全球市场不可或缺的一部分。 它是我们建立如此多的资本市场的基础。 国债嵌入货币市场基金; 无数其他市场和金融产品的定价都与美国国债无关; 它们是我们中央银行工具包的重要组成部分。 它们不仅在美国而且在全球都被称为“无风险资产”。 它们是我们作为政府和纳税人筹集资金的方式:我们是发行人。

在 Covid 危机开始期间,美国国债市场的流动性状况显着恶化。 不过,这并不是我们第一次观察到这个市场的挑战。 早在 2014 年 10 月,美国财政部就发生了“闪电崩盘”。 2019 年秋季,我们在国债融资市场(称为国债回购市场)出现了严重混乱。

我已要求工作人员与财政部和美联储的同事合作,研究我们如何更好地增强这些市场的弹性和竞争力。

如果这个市场更有效率,这可能会为美国纳税人省钱并降低我们的债务成本。 如果该市场更具弹性,则在压力时期增加系统性风险的可能性较小。

我们将寻求考虑一些外部团体(如三十人小组 [6] 和国债市场监督机构间工作组 [7] )围绕潜在的现金和回购国债中央清算所提出的一些建议。

此外,我已要求员工重新考虑有关国债交易平台的一些举措,并考虑如何通过确保在该市场上进行大量交易的公司在 SEC 注册为交易商来平衡竞争环境。

非国债固定收益市场

此外,我还请员工就我们如何为非国债固定收益市场(一个 11 万亿美元的公司债券市场)带来更高的效率和透明度提出建议; 市政债券,一个 4 万亿美元的市场; 和资产支持证券(支持抵押贷款、汽车和信用卡),一个 13 万亿美元的市场。 [8] 这个市场对发行人来说非常重要。 它几乎是我们经济中约 10.5 万亿美元的商业银行贷款的 2.5 倍。 [9]

股票市场

接下来,我想讨论一下股票市场结构。

为了应对新技术,SEC 每隔一段时间就会更新其有关市场结构的规则。 互联网出现后,买卖双方可以在新的交易场所见面。 早先的一个委员会在 1990 年代制定了一项新规则来促进这一点。 2005 年,委员会根据《国家市场结构条例》进一步处理了这种分散的结构。

然而,在过去的 16 年里,技术得到了突飞猛进的发展。 它改变了做市商的互动方式、交易平台的竞争方式、投资者进入这些市场的方式以及这些不同市场参与者之间的经济激励。 散户投资者可以通过免佣金经纪应用进行交易。 电信改变了高频交易的速度。 即使在几年前,情况也并非如此。

尽管这些新技术和发展影响了股票市场的结构,但我们经常依赖于较早时期制定的规则。 大多数在 16 年前采用的规则并不能完全反映当今的技术。

我认为寻找方法来更新 SEC 的规则以确保我们的股票市场反映我们的使命并尽可能高效和具有竞争力是合适的。

我认为现在是我们对今天的市场结构应该是什么样子采取广泛的看法的时候了。 在前任主席杰伊克莱顿 (Jay Clayton) 的领导下,委员会针对市场数据开始了这项工作。 我已经向工作人员征求了建议,特别是围绕两个关键问题:

首先,当人们将每个订单发送到市场时,我们如何在逐个订单的基础上促进更大的竞争和效率?

虽然交易平台之间存在碎片化,但过去的改革和新技术可能导致市场更加细分,做市商更加集中。 近一半的交易量是在“暗池”中或由批发商执行的。 一家公司公开表示,它执行了近一半的零售量。 [10] 此外,我想知道这是否意味着综合磁带——所谓的全国最佳买卖盘——充分反映了交易所的全部活动。

第二,我们如何解决市场中的资金冲突? 正如我之前所说,我认为订单流付款和兑换回扣可能会带来许多利益冲突。

围绕这两个关键原则,我已就我们如何确保更公平的竞争环境、加强竞争和提高市场弹性向员工征求建议。

此外,我相信缩短标准结算周期可以降低我们市场的成本和风险。 我已指示 SEC 工作人员为委员会对这一主题的审查起草一份提案。

基于安全的掉期

与固定收益和股票市场相比,基于证券的掉期市场并不是一个大市场,但它是 2008 年金融危机的核心。 最近,总回报掉期是家族办公室 Archegos Capital Management 失败的核心。

今年,美国证券交易委员会正在实施与基于证券的掉期相关的规则。 证券型掉期交易商和主要证券型掉期参与者将于 11 月 1 日开始向委员会注册。

此外,新的交易后透明度规则将于 11 月 8 日生效,要求将交易数据报告给掉期数据存储机构,以便 SEC 以及在适当情况下其他监管机构可以获得。 然后,从 2022 年 2 月 14 日开始,互换数据存储库将需要向公众传播有关个人交易的数据,包括关键经济条款、价格和名义价值。

此外,委员会尚未完成基于证券的掉期执行设施的注册和监管规则。 我已要求工作人员就委员会如何最终确定授权以支持根据《多德-弗兰克法案》建立的制度提出建议,并考虑这样做是否最好与商品期货交易委员会 (CFTC) 建立的制度一致) 用于基于安全的交换执行工具。 CFTC 的掉期执行工具规则自近十年前被采用以来一直运行良好。

此外,为了让委员会和公众能够看到总体头寸,国会根据《交易法》第 10B 条授权我们授权披露基于证券的掉期和相关证券的头寸。 我已经要求工作人员考虑潜在的规则,以便委员会根据这一权力进行审议。 正如 Archegos 的崩溃所表明的那样,这可能是一项需要考虑的重要改革。

加密资产市场

接下来,我将转向一个较新的市场结构问题:加密资产。

目前,加密货币领域的大部分领域都处于保护投资者和消费者、防范非法活动并确保金融稳定的监管框架之内,而不是在其中运作。

目前,我们只是在加密金融、发行、交易或借贷方面没有足够的投资者保护。 坦率地说,在这个时候,它更像是狂野的西部或在证券法颁布之前存在的“买方当心”的旧世界。 这种资产类别在某些应用程序中充斥着欺诈、诈骗和滥用。 我们可以做得更好。

我已要求 SEC 工作人员与我们的监管机构同事合作,沿着两条轨道开展工作:

第一,我们如何与现有当局下的其他金融监管机构合作,以最好地为这些市场提供投资者保护?

第二,在国会的帮助下,我们可以填补哪些空白?

在美国证券交易委员会,我们有许多跨越两条轨道的项目:

  • 加密代币的提供和销售

  • 加密交易和借贷平台

  • 稳定币

  • 提供加密资产或加密衍生品敞口的投资工具

  • 加密资产托管

在投资者保护方面,我们正在与我们的兄弟机构 CFTC 合作,因为我们的两个机构在加密市场中都有相关的,在某些情况下,重叠的管辖权。 关于更广泛的政策框架,我们不仅与 CFTC 合作,还与美联储、财政部、货币监理署以及总统金融市场工作组的其他成员合作,在这些问题上。 [11]

此外,我建议平台和项目进来与我们交谈。 许多平台上都有数十或数百个代币。 虽然每个代币的法律地位取决于其自身的事实和情况,但对于 50、100 或 1,000 个代币,任何给定平台的证券为零的可能性非常小。 毫无疑问:如果这些交易平台上有证券,根据我们的法律,他们必须向委员会注册,除非他们有资格获得豁免。

我是技术中立的。 我认为这项技术已经并将继续成为变革的催化剂,但如果技术处于监管框架之外,它们就不会持续很长时间。 我相信 SEC 与 CFTC 和其他机构合作,可以在加密金融领域建立更强有力的监督和投资者保护。

预测数据分析

第二个主题是预测数据分析。

我们生活在一个变革的时代,也许和互联网本身一样具有变革性。 人工智能、预测数据分析和机器学习正在并将继续重塑我们经济的许多方面。

举一个例子,我相信我们正处于向无人驾驶汽车过渡的早期阶段。 政策制定者已经在考虑如何确保乘客和行人的安全,如果这些变化发生以及何时发生。

金融也不能幸免于这些发展。 在这里,政策制定者也必须考虑现代资本市场和预测数据分析的使用需要什么样的道路规则。

如今,交易平台具有为个人投资者量身定制营销和产品的新功能。 虽然这可以增加访问和选择,但这种差异化营销和行为提示引发了关于经纪、财富管理和机器人咨询空间内潜在冲突的新问题,特别是当经纪或投资顾问模型针对平台的收入和数据进行优化时收藏。

这些模型还可能无意中反映了数据集中嵌入的历史偏见,这些偏见可能是受保护特征(如种族和性别)的代理。

当我们在资本市场上应用新模型和人工智能时,预测数据分析的进步也可能引发一些系统性风险问题。 这可能导致数据源更加集中、羊群化和相互关联,并可能增加系统性风险。 我们提出了对数字参与实践的评论请求。 评论期已于上周结束。

发行人和发行人披露

第三个主题与发行人和发行人披露有关。

披露

自 1930 年代富兰克林·德拉诺·罗斯福 (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) 和国会合作改革证券市场以来,我们的资本市场一直存在一个基本的交易:投资者可以决定他们希望承担的风险。 从公众筹集资金的公司有义务定期与投资者分享信息。

这些披露会随着时间而改变。 多年来,我们增加了与管理层讨论和分析、风险因素、高管薪酬等相关的披露要求。

当今的投资者正在寻找有关气候风险、人力资本和网络安全的一致、可比较且对决策有用的信息披露。 我已经要求工作人员就这些潜在的披露提出建议,供委员会考虑。 这些建议将通过经济分析提供信息,并将公开征求意见,以便我们可以就这些领域的投资者最重要的信息进行有力的公开讨论。

公司和投资者都将从明确的道路规则中受益。 我认为,当对与投资者投资决策相关的信息有这种需求时,SEC 应该介入。

特殊目的收购公司,x国和 10b5-1 计划

我们在 SEC 优先考虑了与发行人相关的其他三个重要主题。

首先,鉴于特殊目的收购公司 (SPAC) 的激增,我已向员工征求有关加强这些投资披露的建议。 SPAC 结构中存在许多固有的费用和潜在冲突,应向投资者提供明确的信息,以便他们更好地了解成本和风险。

二是与中国有关。 在我们的证券制度中,我们还有另一项基本交易,它是根据 2002 年萨班斯-奥克斯利法案在两党基础上由国会提出的。 如果您想在美国发行公共股票,审计您账簿的公司必须接受上市公司会计监督委员会 (PCAOB) 的检查。 虽然有 50 多个司法管辖区遵守了这一要求,但有两个没有遵守:MM和NN。

国会去年再次在两党的基础上表示,现在是世界各地所有司法管辖区遵守萨班斯-奥克斯利法案的时候了。 SEC 已迅速采取行动,以满足我们根据 2020 年《外国公司问责法》(HFCAA) 提出的要求。

9 月,PCAOB 通过了一项规则来履行其在 HFCAA 下的义务。 这是满足法案要求保护美国投资者的重要一步。 我希望委员会将迅速考虑这一规则,希望我们能在年底前完成所需的规则制定工作。 按照惯例,SEC 将就规则制定征求公众意见,并在考虑我们收到的意见后考虑是否批准。 我认为,委员会和 PCAOB 共同努力确保对进入美国资本市场的外国公司的审计遵循相同的规则至关重要。

此外,我们正在努力加强对M国公司如何在美国发行证券的披露,禁止在某些行业(如互联网和科技)开展业务的M国公司向外国人出售其所有权。 作为一种变通方法,他们使用称为可变利益实体的结构,通过开曼群岛和其他司法管辖区的空壳公司在美国交易所筹集资金。 我们正在努力确保向投资者清楚、显着地披露与这些结构相关的风险以及与在M国运营相关的其他风险。

发行人的最后一个优先领域是公司内部人士的交易。 我已就我们如何收紧规则 10b5-1 以对这个已有 20 年历史的安全港进行现代化改造并填补我们内幕交易制度中的漏洞提出建议。

基金与投资管理

我将讨论的第四个主题是我们正在探索的基金和投资管理领域的潜在改革。 上周,我们举行了一次公开委员会会议,就加强注册基金向股东提供的代理投票披露进行投票。 我很高兴支持这些修正案。 我想讨论这个领域的一些其他举措。

首先,我们看到越来越多的基金将自己标榜为“绿色”、“可持续”、“低碳”等。

我已经要求工作人员考虑如何确定这些声明背后的信息,以及我们如何确保公众拥有他们需要的信息来了解他们在这些类型的基金中的投资选择。

此外,工作人员正在制定一项提案,供委员会考虑网络安全风险治理,该提案可以解决网络卫生和事件报告等问题。

第三个主题集中在私募基金上,特别是他们的经理可能存在的利益冲突以及他们向投资者提供的有关他们收取的费用的信息。 我相信我们可以加强这方面的披露,更好地使养老金和其他投资于这些私人基金的人能够获得做出投资决策所需的信息。 最终,如果这个领域有更大的透明度和竞争,投资于这些私人基金的每个养老基金都会受益。

第四,面对2020年春季的挑战,相信无论是货币市场基金还是开放式债券基金,我们都可以增强韧性。 我已根据我们收到的关于总统工作组报告的反馈以及其他信息,向工作人员提出了解决这些问题的建议。

鉴于 2020 年春季近 5 万亿美元的货币市场基金部门受到干扰,特别是在优质货币市场基金中,我认为是时候反思 2014 年和 2010 年的改革,看看我们是否可以进一步提高弹性,特别是在压力。

鉴于开放式基金的显着增长以及去年春天的一些经验教训,我认为密切关注这个 5 万亿美元以上的部门以增强压力时期的弹性也是适当的。

执法和考试

除了我们正在探索的新政策领域之外,我们还有强大的执法和审查制度。 大约一半的 SEC 工作人员在检查和执法部门工作,以确保对公司进行检查,并对不法行为者的不当行为负责。 这些职能对于保护投资者、维护公平、有序和有效的市场、促进资本形成、保护我们资本市场的竞争力以及追究违反我们证券法的人的责任至关重要。

我们的执法部门将继续作为警察,在其成功的基础上继续努力,并专注于对投资者和市场重要的事务,以确保投资者受到保护。 我们涵盖整个证券领域——调查和诉讼我们职权范围内的每一种类型的案件。 尽管我们采取远程工作方式,但在刚刚结束的财政年度,执法部门有望超过针对违法者采取的独立行动的数量,而总行动预计将略有下降。

此外,我们的考试部继续发挥“委员会的耳目”的作用。 该工作人员致力于通过对投资顾问、共同基金和交易所交易基金等投资公司、经纪自营商和其他 SEC 注册人的审查来保护投资者和工薪家庭。 在刚刚结束的这个财政年度,该部门完成了 3,000 多次考试和数百次非考试注册人参与应对市场事件,超过了上一年的数字。 这些考试和外展工作对于确保公司遵守我们的联邦证券法律和法规以及监控重大市场事件至关重要。

资源

春天开始在美国证券交易委员会工作后,我对这个伟大的机构和卓越的员工的业务的广度和范围感到震惊。 SEC 的员工负责监管 28,000 家注册实体、3,700 多家经纪交易商、24 家国家证券交易所和 7 家清算机构。 [12]  2019 年,创纪录的 6700 万美国家庭直接和间接持有股票。 [13]

然而,随着我们资本市场的发展和技术继续塑造金融的面貌,SEC 的发展并没有满足 2020 年代的需求。 截至 2016 财年末,SEC 有 4,650 名员工。 然而,近五年后,这一数字下降了约 4%。

在 2020 财年,执法部门的员工人数比 2016 财年减少了 6%。再举个例子,SEC 的公司财务部门目前比五年前少了 20%。 自 2016 年以来,尽管注册投资顾问的人数增长了 20% 以上,这些公司管理的资产增长了 65%,但考试部的总人数一直保持相对平稳。 其他部门也同样拉得很细。

尽管我对众议院支持 2022 财年约 20 亿美元预算的决定表示赞赏,但这将使我们的人数仅回到 4,859 人。 我希望继续与国会合作,重新回到 2016 年的状态,同时也拥有反映资本市场增长和演变的资源。

随着越来越多的美国人进入资本市场,我们需要确保委员会拥有保护他们的资源。

以下为英文原文

Gary Gensler is Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This post is based on his recent testimony Before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services. The views expressed in the post are those of Chair Gensler, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Staff.

Good afternoon, Chairwoman Waters, Ranking Member McHenry, and members of the Committee. I’m honored to appear before you today for the second time as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. As is customary, I will note that my views are my own, and I am not speaking on behalf of my fellow Commissioners or the staff.

We are blessed with the largest, most sophisticated, and most innovative capital markets in the world. The U.S. capital markets represent 38 percent of the globe’s capital markets. [1] This exceeds even our impact on the world’s gross domestic product, where we hold a 24 percent share. [2]

Furthermore, companies and investors use our capital markets more than market participants in other economies do. For example, debt capital markets account for 80 percent of financing for non-financial corporations in the U.S. In the rest of the world, by contrast, nearly 80 percent of lending to such firms comes from banks. [3]

Our capital markets continue to support American competitiveness on the world stage because of the strong investor protections we offer.

We keep our markets the best in the world through efficiency, transparency, and competition. These features lower the cost of capital for issuers, raise returns for investors, reduce economic rents, and democratize markets. That focus on competition is in every part of the SEC’s work, particularly with respect to market structure.

We can’t take our remarkable capital markets for granted, though. New financial technologies continue to change the face of finance for investors and businesses. More retail investors than ever are accessing our markets. Other countries are developing deep, competitive capital markets as well.

The SEC is a remarkable organization. In just under five months, I have gotten to know many of the dedicated 4,400 people across 12 offices. Our agency covers nearly every part of the $110 trillion capital markets. Those markets touch many Americans’ lives, whether they’re investing for their future, borrowing for a mortgage, taking out an auto loan, or taking a job with a company that’s tapping our capital markets. We engage with companies raising money and with the key parties that sit in between businesses and investors, including accountants, auditors, and investment managers.

While in August we authorized voluntary return to office, we’ve largely been remote for about 19 months now, and will keep this posture until at least Jan. 3, 2022. I cannot compliment the dedication of this staff enough for their service to the American public.

In this testimony, I will cover some of the broad themes from the SEC’s unified agenda, [4] before closing with a few words on our Enforcement and Examinations divisions and our resources.

  • Market Structure

  • Predictive Data Analytics

  • Issuers and Issuer Disclosure

  • Funds and Investment Management

Market Structure

I’ll start with market structure. In every generation, we have to look at how we can revisit our rule sets to better enhance efficiency and competition in our markets.

Markets work best when they are transparent and competitive. Issuers and investors alike benefit from that competition because it lowers the cost of capital.

I have asked staff to take a look at five market structure-based projects across our $110 trillion capital markets: the Treasury market, non-Treasury fixed income markets, equity markets, security-based swaps, and crypto asset markets.

Treasury Market

First, let me turn to the Treasury market. This $22 trillion market [5] is integral to our overall capital markets as well as to global markets. It is the base upon which so much of our capital markets are built. Treasuries are embedded in money market funds; myriad other markets and financial products are priced off of Treasuries; and they are an essential part of our central bank’s toolkit. They are called the “risk-free asset” not just here in the U.S. but globally. They are how we, as a government and as taxpayers, raise money: We are the issuer.

During the start of the Covid crisis, liquidity conditions in the Treasury market deteriorated significantly. This wasn’t the first time we observed challenges in this market, though. Back in October of 2014, there was the Treasury “Flash Crash.” In the fall of 2019, we had significant dislocations in Treasury funding markets, called the Treasury repo market.

I’ve asked staff to work with our colleagues at the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve on how we can better enhance resiliency and competition in these markets.

To the extent that this market is more efficient, that could potentially save money for U.S. taxpayers and lower the cost of our debt. To the extent that this market is more resilient, it is less likely to add to systemic risks during times of stress.

We will seek to consider some of the recommendations that external groups, like the Group of Thirty [6] and Inter-Agency Working Group for Treasury Market Surveillance, [7] have offered around potential central clearing for both cash and repo Treasuries.

Further, I’ve asked staff to reconsider some initiatives on Treasury trading platforms, and also to consider how to level the playing field by ensuring that firms that significantly trade in this market are registered as dealers with the SEC.

Non-Treasury Fixed Income Market

Additionally, I’ve asked staff for recommendations on how we can bring greater efficiency and transparency to the non-Treasury fixed income markets — corporate bonds, a $11 trillion market; municipal bonds, a $4 trillion market; and asset-backed securities (which back mortgages, automobiles, and credit cards), a $13 trillion market. [8] This market is so critical to issuers. It is nearly 2.5 times larger than the commercial bank lending of about $10.5 trillion in our economy. [9]

Equity Market

Next, I’d like to discuss equity market structure.

Every so often, in response to new technologies, the SEC updates its rules around market structure. After the internet came along, buyers and sellers could meet in new trading venues. An earlier Commission created a new rule in the 1990s to facilitate that. In 2005, the Commission further addressed this fragmented structure under Regulation National Market Structure.

In the last 16 years, though, technology has expanded by leaps and bounds. It has changed how market makers interact, how trading platforms compete, how investors access those markets, and the economic incentives amongst these various market participants. Retail investors can trade over commission-free brokerage apps. Telecommunication has transformed the speed of high-frequency trading. That wasn’t the case even a few years ago.

Despite these new technologies and developments affecting the structure of equity markets, we are often relying on rules written in an earlier period. Rules mostly adopted 16 years ago do not fully reflect today’s technology.

I believe it’s appropriate to look at ways to freshen up the SEC’s rules to ensure that our equity markets reflect our mission and are as efficient and competitive as they could be.

I think it’s time we take a broad view about what the market structure should look like today. The Commission started this exercise with regard to market data under former Chairman Jay Clayton. I’ve asked staff for recommendations, particularly around two key questions:

First, how do we facilitate greater competition and efficiency on an order-by-order basis — when people send each order into the marketplace?

While there is fragmentation amongst trading platforms, past reforms and new technologies may have led to more segmented markets and higher concentration amongst market makers. Nearly half of the volume transacted is executed in “dark pools” or by wholesalers. One firm has publicly stated that it executes nearly half of all retail volume. [10] Further, I wonder whether this means that the consolidated tape — the so-called National Best Bid and Offer — fully reflects the full range of activity on exchanges.

Second, how do we address financial conflicts in the market? As I have stated previously, I believe payment for order flow and exchange rebates may present a number of conflicts of interest.

Around those two key principles, I’ve asked staff for recommendations as to how we can ensure a more level playing field, enhance competition, and improve resiliency in our markets.

Moreover, I believe shortening the standard settlement cycle could reduce costs and risks in our markets. I’ve directed the SEC staff to put together a draft proposal for the Commission’s review on this topic.

Security-Based Swaps

The security-based swaps market is not a large market compared to the fixed income and equity markets, but it was at the core of the 2008 financial crisis. More recently, total return swaps were at the heart of the failure of Archegos Capital Management, a family office.

This year, the SEC is implementing rules related to securities-based swaps. Security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants will begin registering with the Commission by Nov. 1.

Further, on Nov. 8, new post-trade transparency rules will go into effect, requiring transaction data to be reported to a swap data depository and thus available to the SEC and, under appropriate circumstances, other regulators. Then, beginning on Feb. 14, 2022, the swap data repositories will be required to disseminate data about individual transactions to the public, including the key economic terms, price, and notional value.

In addition, the Commission has yet to finish the rules for the registration and regulation of security-based swap execution facilities. I’ve asked staff for recommendations on how the Commission can finalize mandates to stand up the regime established under the Dodd-Frank Act and to consider whether it would be best to do this consistent with the regime established by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for security-based swap execution facilities. The CFTC has had swap execution facility rules that have worked well since they were adopted nearly a decade ago.

Further, to allow the Commission and the public to see aggregate positions, Congress under Exchange Act Section 10B gave us authority to mandate disclosure for positions in security-based swaps and related securities. I’ve asked staff to think about potential rules for the Commission’s consideration under this authority. As the collapse of Archegos showed, this may be an important reform to consider.

Crypto Assets Market

Next, I’ll turn to a newer market structure issue: crypto assets.

Right now, large parts of the field of crypto are sitting astride of — not operating within — regulatory frameworks that protect investors and consumers, guard against illicit activity, and ensure for financial stability.

Currently, we just don’t have enough investor protection in crypto finance, issuance, trading, or lending. Frankly, at this time, it’s more like the Wild West or the old world of “buyer beware” that existed before the securities laws were enacted. This asset class is rife with fraud, scams, and abuse in certain applications. We can do better.

I have asked SEC staff, working with our fellow regulators, to work along two tracks:

One, how can we work with other financial regulators under current authorities to best bring investor protection to these markets?

Two, what gaps are there that, with Congress’s assistance, we might fill?

At the SEC, we have a number of projects that cross over both tracks:

  • The offer and sale of crypto tokens

  • Crypto trading and lending platforms

  • Stable value coins

  • Investment vehicles providing exposure to crypto assets or crypto derivatives

  • Custody of crypto assets

With respect to investor protection, we’re working with our sibling agency, the CFTC, as our two agencies each have relevant, and in some cases, overlapping jurisdiction in the crypto markets. With respect to a broader set of policy frameworks, we’re working with not only the CFTC, but also with the Federal Reserve, Department of Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and other members of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, on these matters. [11]

Further, I’ve suggested that platforms and projects come in and talk to us. Many platforms have dozens or hundreds of tokens on them. While each token’s legal status depends on its own facts and circumstances, the probability is quite remote that, with 50, 100, or 1,000 tokens, any given platform has zero securities. Make no mistake: To the extent that there are securities on these trading platforms, under our laws they have to register with the Commission unless they qualify for an exemption.

I am technology-neutral. I think that this technology has been and can continue to be a catalyst for change, but technologies don’t last long if they stay outside of the regulatory framework. I believe that the SEC, working with the CFTC and others, can stand up more robust oversight and investor protection around the field of crypto finance.

Predictive Data Analytics

The second theme is predictive data analytics.

We are living in a transformational time, perhaps as transformational as the internet itself. Artificial intelligence, predictive data analytics, and machine learning are shaping and will continue to reshape many parts of our economy.

To take just one example, I believe we’re in an early stage of a transition toward driverless cars. Policymakers already are thinking through how to keep passengers and pedestrians safe, if and when these changes take hold.

Finance is not immune to these developments. Here, too, policymakers must consider what rules of the road we need for modern capital markets and for the use of predictive data analytics.

Today, trading platforms have new capabilities to tailor marketing and products to individual investors. While this can increase access and choice, such differential marketing and behavioral prompts raise new questions about potential conflicts within the brokerage, wealth management, and robo-advising spaces, particularly if and when brokerage or investment advisor models are optimized for the platform’s revenue and data collection.

These models also could inadvertently reflect historical biases embedded in data sets that may be proxies for protected characteristics, like race and gender.

Advances in predictive data analytics also could raise some systemic risk issues when we apply new models and artificial intelligence across our capital markets. This could lead to greater concentration of data sources, herding, and interconnectedness, and potentially increase systemic risk. We put out a request for comment on digital engagement practices. The comment period closed last week.

Issuers and Issuer Disclosure

The third theme relates to issuers and issuer disclosure.

Disclosures

Since the 1930s, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress worked together to reform the securities markets, there’s been a basic bargain in our capital markets: investors get to decide what risks they wish to take. Companies that are raising money from the public have an obligation to share information with investors on a regular basis.

Those disclosures changes over time. Over the years, we’ve added disclosure requirements related to management discussion and analysis, risk factors, executive compensation, and much more.

Today’s investors are looking for consistent, comparable, and decision-useful disclosures around climate risk, human capital, and cybersecurity. I’ve asked staff to develop proposals for the Commission’s consideration on these potential disclosures. These proposals will be informed by economic analysis and will be put out to public comment, so that we can have robust public discussion as to what information matters most to investors in these areas.

Companies and investors alike would benefit from clear rules of the road. I believe the SEC should step in when there’s this level of demand for information relevant to investors’ investment decisions.

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, M, and 10b5-1 Plans

There are three other important topics relating to issuers that we have prioritized at the SEC.

First, given the surge in special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), I have asked staff for recommendations about enhancing disclosures in these investments. There are a lot of fees and potential conflicts inherent within SPAC structures, and investors should be given clear information so that they can better understand the costs and risks.

Second is related to M. We have another basic bargain in our securities regime, which came out of Congress on a bipartisan basis under the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. If you want to issue public stock in the U.S., the firms that audit your books have to be subject to inspection by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). While more than 50 jurisdictions have complied with this requirement, two do not: M and N.

Once again on a bipartisan basis, Congress last year said that it’s time for all jurisdictions around the world to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley. The SEC has acted quickly to meet our requirements under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act of 2020 (HFCAA).

In September, the PCAOB adopted a rule to fulfill its obligations under the HFCAA. This was an important step to meet its requirements under the bill to protect U.S. investors. I expect that the Commission will promptly consider this rule with the hope that we remain on track to finalize its required rulemaking before the end of the year. As is customary, the SEC will seek public comment on the rulemaking and will consider whether to approve it after taking into account the comments that we receive. I believe it is critical that the Commission and the PCAOB work together to ensure that the audits of foreign companies accessing U.S. capital markets play by the same rules.

Further, we are working to enhance disclosures with regard to how M companies issue securities in the U.S. M companies conducting business in certain industries, such as internet and technology, are prohibited from selling their ownership stake to foreigners. As a workaround, they use structures called variable interest entities to raise capital on U.S. exchanges through shell companies in the Cayman Islands and other jurisdictions. We are working to ensure that the heightened risks related to these structures and other risks related to operating in M  are clearly and prominently disclosed to investors.

The last priority area with respect to issuers is trading by corporate insiders. I have asked staff for recommendations on how we might tighten Rule 10b5-1 to modernize this 20-year-old safe harbor and fill perceived gaps in our insider trading regime.

Funds and Investment Management

The fourth theme I will discuss is the potential reforms we are exploring in the funds and investment management space. Last week, we held an open Commission meeting to vote on enhancing the proxy voting disclosures that registered funds provide to shareholders. I was pleased to support those amendments. I’d like to discuss a number of other initiatives in this space.

First of all, we’ve seen a growing number of funds market themselves as “green,” “sustainable,” “low-carbon,” and so on.

I’ve asked staff to consider ways to determine what information stands behind those claims and how we can ensure that the public has the information they need to understand their investment choices among these types of funds.

Additionally, staff are developing a proposal for the Commission’s consideration on cybersecurity risk governance, which could address issues such as cyber hygiene and incident reporting.

The third topic centers on private funds, and in particular the conflicts of interest their managers may have and the information they are providing investors about the fees they charge. I believe we can enhance disclosures in this area, better enabling pensions and others investing in these private funds to get the information they need to make investment decisions. Ultimately, every pension fund investing in these private funds would benefit if there were greater transparency and competition in this space.

Fourth, following the challenges of the spring of 2020, I believe we can build greater resiliency in both money market funds and open-end bond funds. I’ve asked staff for recommendations to address those issues, building upon feedback we received on the President’s Working Group report as well as other information.

Given the disruptions in the nearly $5 trillion money market fund sector in spring 2020, particularly amongst prime money market funds, I believe it is time to reflect upon the reforms of 2014 and 2010 to see if we can further improve resiliency, particularly in times of stress.

Given significant growth in open-end funds and some lessons learned last spring, I believe it also is appropriate to take a close look at this $5-plus trillion sector, to enhance resiliency during periods of stress.

Enforcement and Examinations

Beyond the new policy areas we are exploring, we also have robust enforcement and examinations regimes. About half of SEC staff work in the Divisions of Examinations and Enforcement, ensuring that firms are inspected and wrongdoers are held accountable for their misconduct. These functions are essential to protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, facilitating capital formation, protecting the competitiveness of our capital markets, and holding those who violate our securities laws accountable.

Our Division of Enforcement continues to be the cop on the beat, build on its successes, and focus on matters important to investors and the marketplace in order to ensure that investors are being protected. We cover the entire securities waterfront — investigating and litigating every type of case within our remit. Despite our remote work posture, the Division of Enforcement during the just-completed fiscal year is on track to exceed the number of stand-alone actions against wrongdoers, while total actions are expected to be slightly down.

Moreover, our Division of Examinations continues to play the role of the “eyes and ears of the Commission.” This staff is dedicated to protecting investors and working families through examinations of investment advisers, investment companies such as mutual funds and exchange traded funds, broker-dealers, and other SEC registrants. This just-finished fiscal year, this division exceeded the previous year’s numbers by completing more than 3,000 examinations and hundreds of non-exam registrant engagements responding to market events. These exam and outreach efforts are critical to ensuring that firms comply with our federal securities laws and regulations and to monitoring significant market events.

Resources

Having started at the SEC in the spring, I have been struck by the sheer breadth and scope of the operations of this great agency and remarkable staff. The SEC’s employees oversee 28,000 registered entities, more than 3,700 broker-dealers, 24 national securities exchanges, and seven clearing agencies. [12] A record 67 million U.S. families held direct and indirect stock holdings in 2019. [13]

As our capital markets have grown and technology continues to shape the face of finance, though, the SEC has not grown to meet the needs of the 2020s. At the end of fiscal year 2016, the SEC had 4,650 people on board. Nearly five years later, though, that number had decreased by about 4 percent.

In fiscal year 2020, the Division of Enforcement’s staff had 6 percent fewer staff on board than it did in fiscal year 2016. As another example, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance is currently 20 percent smaller than it was five years ago. Since 2016, the Division of Examinations’ total staff has remained relatively flat despite growth of more than 20 percent in the population of registered investment advisers and a 65 percent increase in the assets managed by these firms. Other divisions are similarly stretched thin.

Though I’m appreciative of the House’s decision to support a fiscal year 2022 budget of about $2 billion, this would get us back to only a headcount of 4,859. I’m hoping to continue to work with Congress to build back to where we were in 2016, but also to have the resources reflective of the growth and evolution of the capital markets.

As more Americans are accessing the capital markets, we need to be sure that the Commission has the resources to protect them.

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