Speech by SEC Commissioner:
Remarks at the SEC Open Meeting: Extension of Interactive Data Voluntary Reporting Program on the EDGAR System to Include Mutual Fund Risk/Return Summary Information
Commissioner Roel C. Campos
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
June 20, 2007
I, too, would like to thank the Division of Investment Management for its efforts towards making investor disclosures more accessible, useful, and meaningful. I'd also like to thank our Division of Corporation Finance, Office of Economic Analysis, Office of Information Technology, the Office of the Chief Accountant, and our Office of the General Counsel for their assistance in bringing forth the recommendation before us today. And, of course, I would like to thank the Investment Company Institute and its partners in this interactive data project. The ICI has been an essential component in this particular investor protection mission, and we all greatly appreciate your efforts in developing the risk/return summary information taxonomy that is the lynchpin of the voluntary project before us today.
More and more mutual fund investors today look primarily, and in many cases, solely, to technology to better understand, compare, and analyze their investments. One only needs to open a mutual fund's website to access a dazzling array of online investment tools, research, and fund analyses. What is most extraordinary about these resources, however, is that almost all of them have been developed in just the past 10-20 years — which is why I agree that our voluntary program today is not only timely, but also time-worthy.
With more than 91 million individual investors of all ages, incomes, and educational backgrounds invested in a mutual fund industry that exceeds $10 trillion in assets under management, the need for comprehensive, interactive data that is searchable and analyzable has never been more acute. Our reliance on timely and accessible mutual fund information will only increase in the future as more and more companies and investors look to mutual funds held through 401(k) plans and other tax-deferred retirement investment plans to meet their retirement needs.
And this is the primary reason why I am so supportive of the Commission's mutual fund interactive data initiative. Anything that simplifies and makes more transparent these investments for our investors, particularly those retirement investors who rely on investment income, is — in my opinion — good for the investor and good for our economy. Making key risk/return information more accessible to the public is a critical step towards achieving this greater transparency and accessibility. However, it is not the end — far from it. Fund investors, particularly retirement investors, still face great barriers when it comes to fully understanding the goals, performance, costs, and risks of their investments.
Therefore, I would like to commend the Division of Investment Management for their hard work in bringing this voluntary project to fruition, but add my hope that this initiative is just the first of several that will increase transparency and understanding for our investors and, specifically, our retirement investors. Among other initiatives, I hope that the Commission will soon consider a short-form prospectus proposal that will lay out for fund investors in one or two pages the most critical points of investment-related information. Such a document has the potential to not only clarify and simplify investment information for retail investors, but — if incorporated into relevant Department of Labor rules and regulations — for our retirement investors as well.