Remarks at Ceremonial Swearing In of Commissioners Hester M. Peirce and Robert J. Jackson, Jr.
Jan. 16, 2018
I hope that everyone had a very nice weekend and enjoyed the holiday on which we commemorate the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I note that this August will be the 55th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech here in Washington and April will be the 50th anniversary of his death at age 39.
His lasting impact on America is remarkable and even more remarkable in the context of his short life with us. It is amazing the difference one person can make.
In preparation for our event today, and in the spirit of reflecting on milestones and the difference people can make, I spent some time over the weekend thinking about not only Dr. King and the important events in his life but also on the history of the SEC.
As many of you have heard me say, the SEC is about its people. We are a human capital organization. We have office space, we have IT and, most of all, we have people and our reputation. That’s it. We don’t have sizable physical assets on our balance sheet — we cannot buy or sell securities, lend money or otherwise engage in our markets. We do not write the federal securities laws. We do not have authority to pursue criminal charges. We have 4600 people. That’s less than 2% of the number of people who work at our largest financial institution. Another point of comparison – approximately 6.3 million people work in the financial services sector in the United States. We are less than one-one thousandth of that amount. Last year, the IT budget of one of our largest banks was over five times our total budget.
Yet, for going on 84 years, the SEC’s importance to, and influence over, our capital markets has been the gold standard. How, with such relatively limited power and resources, have we been able to accomplish this? There is only one answer: the individual and collective quality and dedication of our people. We pursue our mission vigorously, fairly and with the interest of Main Street investors at the front of our minds.
Today, we celebrate the addition of the next two in a line of high quality, dedicated people who have had the privilege to serve as Commissioners of the SEC:
Robert J. Jackson, Jr. and Hester M. Peirce.
Commissioners Jackson and Peirce are, if my math serves me and depending on how you count people who served on multiple occasions — the 96th and 97th Commissioners of the SEC.
That is not a big group. It is a group that I believe for which we should be thankful and of which we should be proud. The many of those who have left us are well known for their contributions to the agency and our country — William Douglas, James Landis, Frank Wheat, Harvey Goldschmid, Bill Casey and Manny Cohen come to my mind immediately.
Kara, Mike and I have had the privilege of interacting with many others who have served before us. I am especially grateful for the warm welcomes, sage advice and unwavering support for our mission provided by Kara and Mike, Mary Jo White, Mary Schapiro, Elisse Walter, Harvey Pitt, Chris Cox, Arthur Levitt, Bill Donaldson, Richard Breeden, David Ruder, Laura Unger, Paul Atkins, Cyndi Glassman, Troy Paredes, Roel Campos, Luis Aguilar, Joe Grundfest, Steve Wallman, Kathy Casey, Annette Nazareth and Dan Gallagher, all of whom reached out to support me when I joined the Commission – I thank them for that.
Yes, every single one of them loves the agency and wants to see it succeed. Hester and Rob, you are joining a remarkably talented and supportive group. Moreover, it is a group where each member has made it clear to me that it is the people in the audience — our colleagues on the staff — who have carried the mission.
Rob, Hester, welcome to the SEC.
Commissioner Jackson joins us from NYU School of Law where he was a Professor of Law. Prior to NYU, he was a Professor at Columbia Law School and Director of the Program on Corporate Law and Policy. Rob also served at the United States Treasury Department. He has three degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and two from Harvard University, all received in an astonishingly short period of time and with distinction.
Commissioner Peirce returns — yes, returns — she is one of the many who has SEC service in her blood — to the Commission from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University where she served as Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Financial Markets Working Group. She also served on the staffs of Senator Richard Shelby and Commissioner Paul Atkins. Prior to serving on Commissioner Atkins’ staff, Hester was a staff attorney in our Division of Investment Management. Commissioner Peirce earned her BA in economics from Case Western Reserve University and her JD from Yale Law School.
It is my pleasure to swear in Commissioners Jackson and Peirce.