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Remarks at the Meeting of the Investor Advisory Committee

Sept. 9, 2021

Good morning, and thank you for gathering to discuss two important topics.  Before I go further, I want to say that my remarks are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or my fellow Commissioners.

The topic of your first panel—Reimagining Investor Protection in a Digital World—is quite timely.  About two weeks ago, the Commission issued a request for comment on what we are calling “digital engagement practices” of broker-dealers and investment advisers.  I encourage all who are interested in these topics to review the request and engage with us on the many questions we posed.  Requests for comment are helpful to us, particularly in dealing with emerging areas of technological innovation.  Importantly, the request for comment provides investors with an opportunity to give feedback directly to us.  Hearing from investors on how they are engaging with the securities markets and using investing platforms is invaluable.  I hope the feedback we receive will allow us to establish a common base of facts before we draw conclusions regarding what, or whether, Commission action is warranted.

In my view, learning about investments is a continuous journey, and individuals can benefit by starting early.  Early investments have time to grow, and such gain can eventually help people provide for their families, pay for education, and retire comfortably.  This is not to say that the start of any investing journey will come easy to everyone or that every investment will be successful.  For many, the journey can be daunting—I do not know a single person who felt 100 percent comfortable the first time he or she put money into the markets.  Only over time, and with experience, do people feel more comfortable making investment decisions.  Experience also teaches us that not every investment will turn out the way we want or plan.  This is another reason I believe people generally benefit from starting their investing journeys early on.  The extra time can help investors recover from losses.

In sum, I am excited by the fact that so many people—including many young people, who access our markets through newer technology—are currently interested in investing in our markets, and I believe this is a wonderful development for their lives and futures.  While we should, of course, explore the risks that they may encounter on their journeys, we must not lose sight of the substantial benefits that technological innovation has provided and will continue to provide to these investors and our markets.

As we consider whether to make changes to our market structure, let us also keep in mind that, right now, our markets are the deepest, most liquid, and most investor friendly in the world.  While U.S. investors have all sorts of different goals, needs, and behavioral preferences, there are financial services available for just about everyone.  We should encourage this type of innovation to continue increasing investors’ engagement.  This is particularly important among investors that historically have been less likely to participate directly in the securities markets.  New technologies can help provide useful education for investors to better understand markets as well as efficient avenues through which they can invest.

I am also looking forward to your second panel on auditor competition and regulatory reform.  I understand that you will discuss, among other things, questions of audit quality.  Our markets owe much of their well-deserved reputation to the quality of issuers’ financial reporting, including the quality of the audits of those financials.  It is important that we not lose sight of how valuable focused, detailed financial reporting and audit quality are to the continued health of our markets. 

Finally, I appreciate the work the Committee has done in developing the two recommendations it will consider today.  I look forward to using the Committee’s insights in future Commission work in these two areas.  Thank you again for your work and I look forward to your discussions.

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