Speech by SEC Chairman:
Address to the 2007 CCOutreach National Seminar
Chairman Christopher Cox
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
SEC Headquarters Office Main Auditorium
November 14, 2007
Thank you, Lori [Richards, Director of the SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations], for that kind introduction, and thank you to all of you for participating in this year's CCOutreach National Seminar. You've had a busy day, and Lori has just given an excellent summary of all that's been accomplished.
We started the CCOutreach program because many of you were shy. For some reason people at mutual funds and investment advisory firms thought spending a day at the SEC didn't sound like a lot of fun. [Laughter] So we thought we should break the ice and extend a formal invitation — you know, ask y'all to come set a spell, kick your shoes off. [Laughter]
The truth is, you haven't been a bit shy about taking advantage of these opportunities. Our CCOutreach programs have been oversubscribed. Not only do we have hundreds of you here in this room, but we're broadcasting on the Web to thousands more people across the country. I think we've tapped a real vein of interest in opening the agency's lines of communication with Chief Compliance Officers for registered investment advisers and investment companies.
And we've learned at least as much from you as you have from us. You've helped shaped the agendas by letting us know the compliance issues that are most critical for your firms and your clients and customers.
The CCOutreach program is one of the Commission's success stories. And of course its main purpose is to empower each of you to implement strong compliance programs within your firms. It's meant to encourage firms to take the most effective approaches to prevent securities laws violations, and ultimately, to better serve investors. And judging from the record number of participants in today's event, it is valuable to you, too.
Today's turnout is a testament to the value of keeping up-to-date on the latest developments and compliance practices — and to the importance of sharing a dialogue with your CCO colleagues and the Commission staff.
Communication is always a two way street. We all have a great deal in common, but sometimes we don't speak the same language. I know this can be a real problem in global markets, having just returned from Japan and a meeting of the International Organization of Securities Commissions. But it's even a problem for those of us who nominally speak the same mother tongue. As a Member of Congress I used to notice this whenever we'd mark up the Pentagon budget — one reason the different services always seemed to have trouble operating jointly is that they don't speak the same language.
For example, if you told Navy personnel to "secure a building," they would turn off the lights and lock the doors. Army personnel would occupy the building so no one could enter. Marines would assault the building, capture it, and defend it with suppressive fire and close combat. [Laughter]
The Air Force, on the other hand, would take out a three-year lease with an option to buy. [Laughter]
Getting together here today is helping us to learn each other's language, and to benefit from each other's knowledge of the compliance risks and best practices in today's markets.
Here at the SEC we remember this day for two reasons. Thirty-five years ago today the Dow closed above 1,000 for the first time. And 21 years ago today we imposed a record $100 million penalty against Ivan Boesky. Now, we will remember this day for the record-breaking attendance of so many CCOs here at the SEC. Congratulations! We are grateful to you for sharing with us and with your fellow CCOs, because the efforts by CCOs help protect investors.
You know, I saw an article in a recent compliance publication that reported that CCOs "enjoy a deep well of respect" by the SEC's staff. This is absolutely true — we hold you in high regard. We do so because we respect the responsibilities that you have within your firms, and the role you play in protecting investors. You have made the chief compliance officer position a respected and laudable role in mutual fund and investment advisory firms. I commend you.
I also want to commend the staff of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, and the Division of Investment Management, for your efforts on the CCOutreach Program. In particular, I want to recognize Lori Richards for the tremendous vision that you have demonstrated in creating this program.
So thank you to all of our CCOs for being here, and in particular thank you for the work that you do every day within your firms to educate, counsel, and cajole — all the various methods that you use to help your firm and its business leaders to stay on the right side of the line. You are truly playing a critical role for the benefit of investors, and as the Investor's Advocate, we're proud to be your partners.