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SEC Chair Gensler Speaks on Fintech

Good morning. It’s good to be here at DC Fintech Week. Thank you, Chris [Brummer], and all the organizers for inviting me here today. As is customary, I’d like to note that my remarks are my own, and I’m not speaking on behalf of the Commission or SEC staff.

Chris, before we get to your questions, I wanted to set the stage a bit about how I think about financial technology, or fintech.

Finance and technology have coexisted in a symbiotic relationship since antiquity. Think about it: Money, accounting, and ledgers, which we take for granted in some way now,

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SEC Commissioners Discuss Report on “Meme Stock” Episode

Today [October18], the staff issued a report on the so called “meme stock” episode that occurred this past January.  We would like to thank the staff not only for their hard work on this report, but also for keeping the Commission fully and timely informed during the period of extreme volatility discussed in the report.  While the report includes an interesting account of the events, it does not appear that many conclusions can be drawn from the data.  This report should have been an anodyne report on the events of earlier this year and, if evident from the data, an … Read more

Management Guidance Withdrawals During the Pandemic

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has drastically affected the global economy and offers a unique setting to investigate firm and market behavior through periods of heightened economic uncertainty. During the pandemic, many U.S. public firms withdrew their quarterly and annual guidance on their firms’ financial outlook. According to Intelligize, 851 companies announced the withdrawals of their management guidance between March 16 and May 31, 2020.[1] In contrast, guidance withdrawals were rare prior to the pandemic. The large increase in the number of withdrawals has attracted wide attention from investors, regulators, and the media (CNBC 2020; Wall Street Journal 2020). … Read more

Skadden Discusses Government Expectations for Companies’ Data-Driven Compliance Programs

As artificial intelligence and other data tools have proliferated, regulators and prosecutors expect companies to utilize sophisticated data analytics as part of their compliance programs. They also expect directors to take an active role, understanding and overseeing these data-driven compliance programs.

Recent lawsuits, enforcement actions and surveys suggest, however, that many companies have not kept up with the rising expectations and may not be utilizing available data to flag potential compliance problems as well as they could – perhaps not even as well as the government is already doing.

A careful reading of enforcement cases, policies and public statements shows … Read more

SEC Chair Gensler Speaks on Clawbacks of Erroneously Awarded Compensation

I support today’s [October 14] action to re-open comment on the Dodd-Frank Act rule regarding clawbacks of erroneously awarded incentive-based compensation. I believe we have an opportunity to strengthen the transparency and quality of corporate financial statements as well as the accountability of corporate executives to their investors.

In today’s economy, corporate executives often are paid based on how the companies that they lead perform: things like revenue and profits of the overall business. Occasionally, however, the numbers the companies reported as the basis of that compensation aren’t accurate. In these cases, companies may have to go back and revise

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SEC Chair Gensler Speaks About Digital Analytics in Finance

Thank you. I’m happy to appear at SEC Speaks for the first time as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This event provides great continuing legal education to lawyers, accountants, and other market professionals. It also gives a platform for dozens of the talented and dedicated SEC staff and directors to share some insights about our work.

I’d like to thank the Practising Law Institute for working with our agency on this program, and my colleagues Gurbir Grewal and Renee Jones for co-chairing this event.

As is customary, I will note I’m not speaking on behalf of the Commission

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New SEC Enforcement Director Speaks on Promoting Market Integrity

Thank you for that introduction and for having me here today. At the Division of Enforcement, ensuring that broker-dealers and associated individuals follow our laws and regulations is critical to our mission, so it’s only fitting that my first speech as Director is at this event.

While I just referred to it as “our mission” at the Division of Enforcement, what I’d like to talk to you about today is how we all share the responsibility to maintain market integrity and enhance public confidence in our securities markets. But first I must provide the disclaimer that my remarks today express

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Sullivan & Cromwell Discusses SEC Proposal to Enhance Proxy Voting Disclosure by Investment Funds

On September 29, 2021, the SEC issued a proposed rulemaking to enhance the information mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and other registered management investment companies (“funds”) report annually about their proxy votes.  The proposal also would require so-called “institutional investment managers” subject to section 13(f) of the Exchange Act (“managers”), which includes a broad range of investors in U.S. publicly traded equities, including some who are not “managers” in the conventional sense, to report annually regarding their voting of proxies related to executive compensation “say-on-pay” matters.  The proposed rulemaking—the first to be issued under the leadership of SEC Chairman Gary Gensler—touches … Read more

Davis Polk Discusses SEC Enforcement Action Against Alternative Data Provider

An enforcement action against an alternative data provider for misrepresenting its practices offers lessons both for trading firms that use alternative data and public companies that sell it.

On September 14, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a settlement with App Annie Inc., a privately held company, and its co-founder and former CEO and Chairman for making material misrepresentations about how App Annie obtained alternative data—information about companies or investments that is not contained within financial statements or other traditional data sources—and about its internal controls to prevent the misuse of confidential data.

App Annie provides a free performance … Read more

SEC Chair Gensler Testifies Before U.S. House Committee on Financial Services

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

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SEC Chair Gensler Speaks on Proposal to Enhance Proxy Voting Disclosure

Good morning. This is an open meeting of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on September 29, 2021. I want to welcome members of the public who are listening in.

This is my first open meeting as Chair of this remarkable agency. While there will be times when we vote on rulemakings via seriatim, I like open Commission meetings. I think open meetings can bring greater transparency to our work, and the public benefits when we can open up our deliberations to them. I hope it will be the first of many during my tenure.

Today, the Commission will consider

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Copycat Skills and Disclosure Costs

Despite the benefits of greater transparency, public disclosures may reveal proprietary information that ultimately harms the disclosing firm by allowing competitors to view and imitate its strategies, an activity known as “copycatting.” An SEC proposal in July 2020 to increase the reporting threshold for the quarterly 13F holdings of investment companies from $100 million to $3.5 billion was partly aimed at reducing the costs from copycatting. Although prior studies have shown how proprietary costs and competition shape the decisions of disclosing firms (e.g., Leuz and Wysocki, 2016),  copycatting by peers remains relatively unexplored, mainly because such behavior is so difficult … Read more

Arnold & Porter Discusses ESG, Disclosure, and Whistleblowing

On August 25, 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported that the SEC and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are investigating greenwashing allegations made by the former head of sustainability of Deutsche Bank AG’s asset-management arm, DWS Group (DWS), including allegations that DWS overstated how much it used sustainable investing criteria to manage its assets. DWS disclosed in its 2020 annual report that it invested more than half of its $900 billion in assets using a system called ESG integration, where companies are graded using ESG criteria. According to The Wall Street Journal, … Read more

SEC Chair Speaks Before Small Business Capital Formation and Asset Management Advisory Committees

Thank you, Carla [Garrett]. It’s good to be with this Committee again. I’d like to thank the members for their time and willingness to represent the interests of America’s small businesses. As is customary, I’d like to note I’m not speaking on behalf of the Commission or the SEC staff.

I look forward to your readouts from today’s discussion on late-stage, private rounds of financing, as well as the pathways to our public markets.

Last time we gathered, I spoke about my father, Sam Gensler, a small business owner who never had more than a few dozen employees. He didn’t

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Chair Lina Khan Discusses Vision and Priorities for the Federal Trade Commission

Thank you [commissioners and staff] for the grace and patience you’ve displayed the last few months as my team and I have gotten up to speed on the agency’s work and processes. Navigating a leadership transition during a pandemic has
posed a host of challenges, and I am so grateful for the warm welcome and support from across the Commission. The past 18 months have involved significant hardship and loss for many of us, and I want to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication during these difficult times.

It’s been great to meet and speak with many of Read more

Private Communication Between Managers and Financial Analysts: Evidence from Taxi Ride Patterns in New York City

Firm managers spend substantial time meeting privately with analysts and investors (e.g., Thomson Reuters 2009; Soltes 2014; Brown, Call, Clement, and Sharp 2015; Bushee, Gerakos, and Lee 2018). As evidenced by a wealth of anecdotes and surveys, such private communications are now found everywhere, becoming an important source of information to sell-side analysts (Brown et al. 2015). Despite the importance of these off-line, non-public interactions, however, little is known about the timing, nature, and value of private communications, primarily due to the data limitations inherent in their private nature. This study seeks to fill this gap by constructing a unique … Read more

Mandatory Short Selling Disclosure Could Lead to Investor Herding Behavior

Commission-free trading apps like Robinhood and coordinated action by retail investors on Twitter, WallStreetBets, and other social media have created an unprecedented force on Wall Street that specifically targets short sellers. One result has been a massive run-up in the stock prices of GameStop, AMC, and other “meme” stocks in 2021, presenting the SEC with the challenge of promoting the efficiency of capital markets – even as the prices of these meme stocks substantially deviate from firm fundamental value –  while simultaneously protecting retail investors. AMC specifically warned its investors in a June 3, 2021, filing that, “We believe that … Read more

The Real Effects of Conflict Minerals Disclosures

Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted the conflict minerals disclosure (CMD) rule, which requires issuers to perform due diligence on “conflict minerals” – natural resources known to fuel conflicts in underdeveloped nations – that are used in the “functionality or production” of their products. The issuers must disclose whether their products contain tantalum, tin, tungsten, or gold (3TG) from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or any of nine neighboring African nations (together, the covered countries). The CMD rule is designed to further the humanitarian goal of ending the extreme violence perpetrated by armed … Read more

SPACs and Forward-Looking Disclosure: Hype or Information?

In 2021, 359 SPACs have raised $95 billion, surpassing the $74 billion raised by 254 SPACs in 2020. The growth in this market might mean that sophisticated investors are using a regulatory loophole to avoid IPO disclosure regulations in taking firms public and hyping their shares. It could also mean that IPO disclosure regulations are preventing small companies with scant performance history from raising money in public markets. Either way, it’s time to reconsider disclosure regulations related to IPO. With that in mind, we examine the extent of forecasting by SPACs and its relation to transaction outcomes.

SPACs are blank … Read more