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Remarks at Interagency Convening on Equitable Economic Growth

Washington D.C.

Nov. 9, 2021

Thank you. It is good to be a part of today’s important discussions on equitable economic growth and how we can come together to advance economic equity and inclusion across our diverse nation.

I’d also like to thank Don Graves for inviting me to speak at today’s event. Don and I first met and worked together at the Department of the Treasury back in the ‘90s. He was recently out of law school and was already working on issues related to equitable economic growth. We then reconnected during the Biden-Harris Transition, where, in the midst of advising the then-President-elect on the transition at the Department of the Treasury, Don remained so focused and committed to equitable economic growth.

After President Biden nominated Don to serve as Deputy Secretary of Commerce, the Washington Post had a great story about Don and his ancestors.[1] They ran a horse-and-buggy taxi service at the site that the Department of Commerce now sits on. It’s a remarkable story. I just couldn’t be happier to see him in his current role.

Before I continue, as is customary, I’d like to note that I’m not speaking on behalf of the Commission or SEC staff.

Fairness and inclusion are central to the work we do at the SEC. Indeed, the word “fair” is in our three-part mission: to protect investors, facilitate capital formation, and maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets.

Our agency covers nearly every part of the $110 trillion capital markets. Those markets touch many Americans’ lives. Whether they’re investing for their future, borrowing for a mortgage, taking out an auto loan, or taking a job with a company that’s tapping our capital markets, they’re kind of the issuers, too!

We at the SEC think every day about fairness and inclusion.

Fairness is about working toward markets that are free of fraud, manipulation, and other misconduct. It is embedded in so many of the SEC’s policies over the decades.

We at the SEC think every day about promoting fairness, not only through our rules, but through our examinations and enforcement regimes.

Inclusion is about promoting equal access.

This means brokers and investment advisers providing services to all members of our diverse nation fairly and equitably.

It’s also the idea that all companies, from small businesses to high-growth startups to corporations, deserve access to our capital markets to fund their entrepreneurial ideas and innovations, regardless of their race, gender, geography, or any other factor.

We at the SEC think every day about efficiency, competition, and transparency.

Our capital markets sit in the middle — between those who want to lay off risk and those who want to bear it, between issuers seeking to raise capital and investors seeking to grow their nest eggs.

With literally trillions of dollars of money and risk flowing through our capital markets each day, it becomes ever more important to promote efficiency in the middle. It becomes ever more important that market participants there have sufficient competition and transparency to lower economic rents, or excess profits above market competition, that might otherwise accrue.

The history of finance has shown that too often, there less competition in providing financial services to underserved communities, which unfortunately can result in more fraud and more economic rents. We saw this leading up to the ’08 financial crisis.

More and more retail investors are accessing the markets. Thus, more and more people require the protections of our securities laws.

Equitable growth means increasing that competition and efficiency.

There’s another trend at work here as well.

We at the SEC think every day about rapid changes in technology, and how to update our rules in light of those developments.

We’re witnessing a transformative time in technology. Technological developments, while increasing access and choice, also raise important public policy considerations, including around inclusion, access, and bias.

Let me focus on just one development related to equitable economic growth: predictive data analytics.

Predictive data analytics are increasingly being adopted in finance — from trading, to asset management, to risk management. These analytics stand behind the brokerage apps and the robo-advisers that we can download on our mobile phones. Though we’re still in the early stages of these developments, I think the transformation we’re living through now could be every bit as big as the internet was in the 1990s.

Today, platforms have an insatiable appetite for a seemingly endless array of data. This raises new questions about what they can do with that data.

For example, one study has shown that people who used iOS software had better credit than people who used Android software.[2]

We have protections in our laws for certain groups of people. What if it turns out that people who used Android software also happened to be women, say, or members of a racial or ethnic minority?

The underlying data used in the analytic models could be based upon data that reflects historical biases, along with underlying features that may be proxies for protected characteristics, like race and gender.[3]

As finance platforms rely on increasingly sophisticated data analytics, how can we ensure that new developments in analytics don’t instead reinforce societal inequities that may be embedded in data?

The technologies may be new, but such public policy questions are timeless.

During the 1960s, the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements demanded action to address the historical biases embedded in credit reporting. The U.S. passed laws to protect equal access in housing, credit reporting, and credit applications.[4]

Similarly, I think in the 2020s, in the face of evolving technologies and the growing use of predictive data analytics, we ought to consider our policies to guard against bias.

We’ve got dozens of projects at the SEC, from the structure of our stock markets to the digital engagement practices I just discussed. Fairness and inclusion runs through all of them. Efficiency, competition, and an eye on changing technologies do as well. That’s how we at the SEC do our part to advance equitable economic growth.

With that, I have the honor of introducing Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, who serves as the voice for America’s 30 million small businesses and innovative startups in President Biden’s Cabinet.

Isabella and I have a couple of things in common. We both grew up in families with small businesses, and we both went off to a small business school in Philadelphia, Wharton, as undergraduates.

Then, she did the risky thing — she went off and became an entrepreneur! I have so much respect for that. She has spent her entire career advising entrepreneurs, launching ventures, helping small businesses navigate government, and creating policies and programs to help advance entrepreneurship and innovation. She’s served at the state and federal level, advocating for small businesses.

Last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and there were so many questions about the survival of small businesses in this country, Isabella was at the forefront of working toward small business recovery in California. Most recently, she served as the Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, where she helped small businesses and innovative startups in the world’s fifth-largest economy start, expand, and grow. She advocated fiercely for financial relief for small businesses and focused on expanding assistance to entrepreneurs in underserved communities.

I turn it over to you, Isabella.

[1] See Courtland Milloy, “A Commerce nominee’s formerly enslaved ancestors ran a taxi service where the department is now headquartered” (Feb. 23, 2021), available at

[2] See Tobias Berg, Valentin Burg, Ana Gombović, Manju Puri, On the Rise of FinTechs: Credit Scoring Using Digital Footprints, The Review of Financial Studies, Volume 33, Issue 7, July 2020, Pages 2845–2897,

[3] See Gary Gensler and Lily Bailey, “Deep Learning and Financial Stability,” available at

[4] Ibid.

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