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Opening Remarks at the Meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee

May 27, 2020

Good morning and welcome to the second meeting of the Asset Management Advisory Committee.

Before we get started, I would like to remind you that the views expressed today here from the Staff are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the Commission, any commissioners or any other members of the Staff. [1]

Today, the AMAC is meeting in a virtual posture in light of the COVID-19 pandemic we face as a global community.  Needless to say, this pandemic has significantly impacted the U.S. and global markets. Over the past three months, the staff has engaged in an extensive outreach effort to monitor the effects of the pandemic on investors, investment products, and market function to name a few areas.   

As we continue in our efforts to monitor the markets, we appreciate the Committee members’ and panelists’ willingness to pivot the agenda for the meeting today to focus on market and operational issues related to COVID-19. With diverse representation of investors and market participants, we hope today’s participants can provide the SEC with broad based market color from their unique vantage points. I believe that we can have a preliminary, data driven conversation about how the different segments of the asset management industry functioned over the past few weeks. Having this conversation as events continue to unfold can help us to analyze what is happening and lay the groundwork for determining future steps.

I personally hesitate to draw conclusions or make recommendations for regulatory changes to address potential impacts discerned to date. Doing so risks being premature as we are still in the middle of the pandemic and its evolving impact on the U.S. and global markets.

To date, the Division and staff across the agency have been focused on extensive outreach and market monitoring efforts. In addition, we have recommended to the Commission and provided temporary, conditional exemptive relief. We are continuing our outreach and monitoring efforts and stand ready to address pressing regulatory issues identified by registrants.[2] 

Of note, the staff’s timely and thoughtful response has and continues to be accomplished during this challenging time in a fulltime telework posture. While juggling unprecedented challenges on the home and personal front, the staff is hard at work to fulfill the critical mission of this agency. The Division, while tackling COVID-19 requests for relief, is also moving forward with its regulatory agenda and its core initiatives, the investor experience and modernizing the regulatory framework for the asset management industry. We believe that it is critical to do so to provide choice and opportunity for Main Street investors. The professionalism and dedication of the staff in the Division and across the agency as we work through our added workload is commendable.

Today’s panels will cover the work of the two AMAC subcommittees: ESG and Retail Access to Private Investments. In addition, panelists will provide preliminary data on COVID-19 market impact as well as insights on particular segments of the industry most impacted. For example, panelists will discuss money market and bond funds with a focus on liquidity and market function. Of note, significant reforms in each space took place after the Financial Crisis. A preliminary perspective on how the reforms functioned would be helpful to both regulators and market participants.  Finally, the last panel will cover different aspects of business operations.

As we all know, the current environment has tested all aspects of business operations. Without need for regulatory action, business continuity plans were adjusted to account for dispersed, telework locations. Meetings, including board meetings, moved into virtual environments. Trading desks can now span multiple locations while still connected as a unit. With this backdrop in mind, I look forward to today’s panel discussion on the shift in operational postures to dispersed telework and any potential challenges ahead. In particular, I look forward to hearing input on (1) advancing the use of e-delivery in light of the challenges experienced in printing and delivering paper, and (2) experience with virtual board attendance.

In closing, I would like to thank Christian Broadbent and Sirimal Mukerjee, the Division’s Managing Executive Office, and the Commission’s Office of Information Technology for enabling us to meet virtually today. It takes an extraordinary amount of work to put together a meeting like todays in normal circumstances. You can imagine the effort it has taken to make it happen in our virtual posture.

With that, Ed turning it over to you and I am looking forward to your opening of the discussion.

[1] The Securities and Exchange Commission disclaims responsibility for any private publication or statement of any SEC employee or Commissioner.  This speech expresses the author's views and does not necessarily reflect those of the Commission, the Commissioners, or other members of the staff.

[2] A summary of the COVID-19 emergency relief and frequently asked questions for investment companies and investment advisers is available at  

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