Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee Announces Executive Staff.
On February 1, the SEC released a roster of the executive staff for Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee. The executive staff is responsible for advising the Chair on matters before the Commission, working closely with agency staff, and helping the Chair perform all day-to-day operations.
Acting SEC Director of the Division of Corporation Finance.
On February 1, the SEC announced John Coates will serve as Acting Director of the agency’s Division of Corporation Finance. Mr. Coates has been the John F. Cogan Professor of Law and Economics at Harvard University and is a SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee member.
On February 1, the SEC announced Satyam Khanna will serve as Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and ESG in Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee's office. Mr. Khanna will advise the agency on environmental, social, and governance matters and advance related new initiatives.
Senate Conducts Hearings to Confirm Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Next DOL Labor Secretary
On February 11, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved Walsh’s nomination by 18-4. His nomination awaits confirmation by the full Senate (no date for a vote had been set at the time of this publication).
DOL’s Fiduciary Rule and Prohibited Transaction Exemption – Final Rules.
DOL’s Fiduciary Rule and Exemption for Investment Advice Fiduciaries went into effect on February 16, “Improving Investment Advice for Worker & Retirees” In the DOL’s press release, the agency said, “we will continue our stakeholder outreach to determine how we might improve this exemption.”
SEC Requests Comment on Potential Money Market Fund Reform Options Highlighted in President’s Working Group Report.
On February 4, the SEC published a request for public comment on potential reform measures to improve the resilience of money market funds as highlighted in a report of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets (December 2020).
Acting Chair Allison Lee Directs SEC Staff to Focus on Climate-Related Disclosure
Acting Chair Lee directed the Division of Corporation Finance to enhance its focus on climate-related disclosure in public company filings and use insights from this work to begin updating the 2010 guidance to take into account developments in the last decade.
SEC Provides No-Action Relief from Reg BI and Form CRS for Family Offices.
The SEC provided no-action relief to broker-dealers allowing them not to treat family offices that qualify as Institutional Family Offices as “retail customers” for Reg BI purposes or as “retail investors” for purposes of Form CRS requirements.
FINRA Announces Its Compliance Examination Priorities for 2021.
At the top of FINRA’s list for 2021 is the SEC’s Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI). FINRA intends to expand the scope of its compliance reviews and testing involving Reg BI “to effect a more comprehensive review of firm processes, practices, and conduct,” with a focus on retail investors.
SEC Posts Sample Letter to Companies Regarding Securities Offerings During Times of Extreme Price Volatility.
On February 8, the Division of Corporation Finance recognized the importance of capital formation, including during times of market volatility and when an issuer’s securities are experiencing extreme price volatility. The Division also cautioned that such market and stock volatility can create risks for both companies and investors.
SEC Issues Warning and Guidance Regarding Short-Term Trading Driven by Social Media.
On January 30, the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy warned investors of the significant risks of short-term investing based on social media, especially in volatile markets, and provided tips for long-term investing.
The SEC Commissioners issued a statement on January 29, saying the Commission will “work to protect investors, to maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and to facilitate capital formation.” They also said they are working with other regulators, including FINRA and the stock exchanges, to ensure regulated entities are acting appropriately and to “protect investors and to identify and pursue potential wrongdoing.”
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