The Office of the Investor Advocate was established at the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 24, 2014, when Rick A. Fleming was appointed as the Commission's first Investor Advocate.
The Office has four core functions:
- To Provide a Voice for Investors. We work to ensure that the needs of investors are considered as decisions are made at the SEC, at self-regulatory organizations (SROs), and in Congress. We analyze the potential impact on investors of proposed regulatory changes, identify problems that investors have with investment products and financial service providers, and recommend changes to statutes and regulations for the benefit of investors.
- To Assist Retail Investors. The Investor Advocate appoints an Ombudsman who acts as a liaison to assist retail investors in resolving problems they may have with the Commission or an SRO. Tracey L. McNeil is the SEC's first Ombudsman. See more about the services of the Ombudsman.
- To Study Investor Behavior. The Investor Advocate has hired an economist, Brian Scholl, and the Office of the Investor Advocate has assumed responsibility for investor testing at the Commission. Dr. Scholl will design surveys and focus group testing to gain insight into investor behavior and provide data regarding policy choices. He will also review the economic analyses of rulemakings to ensure that they appropriately reflect the benefits to investors, not just the costs to industry.
- To Support the SEC's Investor Advisory Committee. The Office provides staff and operational support for the Committee, and the Investor Advocate serves as a statutory member. See more about the Committee.
Independent Role and Reports to Congress
While the Investor Advocate reports to the Chair of the SEC, the position nonetheless involves a measure of independence. The Office was established pursuant to a Congressional mandate, and the law requires the Investor Advocate to submit reports directly to Congress, without any prior review or comment from the Commissioners or SEC staff.
The Investor Advocate files two reports to Congress each year:
- A Report on Objectives, due each June 30, which sets forth the objectives of the Investor Advocate for the following fiscal year, and
- A Report on Activities, due each December 31, which describes the activities of the Investor Advocate during the immediately preceding fiscal year.
- See submitted reports.
We identify a short list of top policy priorities each year. In Fiscal Year 2016, we are focused on these priorities:
Speeches and Public Statements
- Perspectives on Retirement Readiness in the United States: A White Paper
(November 28, 2016)
- Moving Forward with the Commission's Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative
(November 19, 2016)
- Examining the Dodd-Frank Act and the Future of Financial Regulation
(November 16, 2016)
- Improving Disclosure with Smart Data (October 24, 2016)
- Investor Protection in the Municipal Securities Markets (August 25, 2016)
- See all speeches.
Reports to Congress
The Investor Advocate has submitted Recommendations:
- To the SEC on Proposals from FINRA and MRSB on mark-up disclosure for retail fixed income trades (November 7, 2016)
- To the SEC on Proposals from NYSE MKT and NYSE Arca on Filing Broker-Dealer Termination Notices (October 3, 2016)
- To SEC on Regulation of Alternative Trading Systems (Sept. 9, 2016)
- To PCAOB on Expanding the Auditor's Report (Aug. 15, 2016)
- See all Recommendations
Phone (toll-free): (877) 732-2001
Phone (local): (202) 551-3330
Fax: (301) 847-4722
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Office of the Investor Advocate
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549