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Investor Research

June 10, 2024

The Office of the Investor Advocate's Office of Investor Research conducts research on issues that affect a broad set of investors to better identify problems that investors may have and analyze the potential impacts of rules or regulations on investors.

This research aims to inform the rulemaking process with evidence obtained from surveys and tests of the impacts of potential policy changes.

Explore research on topics including financial advice, disclosures, mutual fund literacy, and more:

Research Briefs

Working Papers

Full Reports

What is the Office of Investor Research?

The Policy Oriented Stakeholder and Investor Testing for Innovative and Effective Regulation (POSITIER, pronounced “poz-it-teer”) initiative represents a new way to promote evidence-based outcomes by introducing additional research and data into SEC policymaking. The initiative aims to inform the rulemaking process with evidence obtained from surveys and tests of the impacts of potential policy changes.

POSITIER allows us to identify investor beliefs, desires, and goals, and explore factors that may affect investors’ behavior – including structural factors that may be hidden from view. To achieve these goals, we explore investment decisions from multiple directions. For instance, in work concentrating on investor capabilities, we have measured investors’ financial knowledge, which is often thought to be a precursor to informed decision making. In our work concentrating on regulatory interventions, we have examined difficulties associated with mandated disclosures – information that people receive to make investment decisions.

Ultimately, POSITIER gives us the means to collect objective data and examine the impacts upon investors of proposed regulatory changes, which in turn helps us advocate more effectively for investors.

Since initial data collection began in June of 2017, we have conducted: (1) Nearly 40 survey research projects, receiving responses from more than 70,000 completed surveys (2) 11 large-scale, in-depth qualitative studies.

Core POSITIER Research Areas

POSITIER research priorities evolve to address current events and critical areas of investor need in order to advance the SEC’s Investor Protection mission and to fulfill the Office of the Investor Advocate’s mission. Our research agenda currently focuses on the following topics:

  • Disclosures and Information
    What information do investors receive about potential investments? When and how is that information delivered? How can we make that information more useful and more easily understood? What are the consequences of receiving that information for investor decision-making and behavior?
  • Financial Advice
    What leads investors to seek financial advice, and how do they find advisers? Can investors discern the quality of advice they receive, and does that affect their willingness to follow it? What advice do investors find the most helpful, and how much do they benefit?
  • Factors Affecting Investment Decisions
    What are the individual, household, and macroeconomic factors affecting investment decisions? For instance, how do decisions differ across varying levels of financial literacy and household wealth, or in response to events like job loss and the emergence of a global pandemic?
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