Remarks at the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee Meeting
Commissioner Kara M. Stein
Oct. 12, 2017
I want to welcome everyone this morning.
I also would like to join Chairman Clayton in welcoming the two new members of the Committee, Allison Bennington and Min Nguyen.
As we all know, advances in technology have greatly impacted all aspects of our capital markets.
Today’s discussion will explore some of the advances in technology, such as blockchain and electronic delivery of information to investors.
New innovations and technologies can be beneficial to market participants. They can also raise new risks.
For instance, Bitcoin and other virtual coin or token offerings have exploded onto the scene. Startups have raised a record $1.3 billion in the first half of 2017 alone in initial coin offerings or ICOs. These investments are seen as cutting-edge opportunities for individual investors. But these investments may not be suitable for all investors because they may have significant risks.
The rapidly expanding ICO market and the rising incidences of fraud within this market may also signal a need for clearer oversight to better protect investors.
New technologies also have the ability to revolutionize capital-raising for companies and to optimize trading of securities.
How can we ensure that new innovations and new investment products embed appropriate controls to better capture their benefits and avoid potential harm?
That’s why I’m excited that today’s panel will be focusing on the investor’s perspective. It is an important voice and one the Commission must understand in our role as the Investor’s Advocate.
Similarly, the IAC will also be discussing how information is delivered to investors. Over the last few years, many services have been going “paperless” in an effort to reduce costs.
I’m interested in hearing about approaches that maximize investor choice but also reduce costs.
Does paperless delivery lead to a better investor experience?
Does paperless or electronic delivery affect different investor demographics in different ways? For instance, how well do older investors access electronic delivery?
With all our advances in communication and technology, shouldn’t we be able to provide investors with communications that optimize their experience and in a manner that each investor prefers?
Finally, I’m looking forward to the discussion about law school clinic advocacy efforts on behalf of retail investors.
Retail investors face a number of challenges, and investor rights clinics do tremendous work in representing investors in disputes with their brokers.
Law school clinic advocacy for retail investors is an innovation that I’d like to see grow.
I look forward to hearing from today’s panelists about what the Commission should be considering going forward.
As always, I very much appreciate the hard work and dedication that this Committee brings to the issues that matter to investors.
 See e.g. Office of Investor Education and Advocacy Investor Alert (Aug. 28, 2017) available at https://www.investor.gov/additional-resources/news-alerts/alerts-bulletins/investor-alert-public-companies-making-ico-related