Remarks at Meeting of the SEC Investor Advisory Committee
June 9, 2022
Thank you, Christopher [Mirabile] and the other members of the Committee, for once more taking time out of your busy lives to serve American investors through your participation on the Investor Advisory Committee. I want to begin by saying a special “Good morning” to the eight newest members of the IAC, well described by Christopher as “an influx of new talent.” We received hundreds of applications in response to our call for candidates and, having reviewed many of the resumes and statements of interest myself, I can attest to the depth of talent from which we had to choose, and you see that reflected in today’s new members. Welcome. I look forward to working with each of you in the coming years.
Even as we welcome new members to the IAC, we must also say our goodbyes to Rick Fleming, who will be leaving the Commission after eight years as Investor Advocate. Being the first to serve in the role was no easy task, but, as those of you who worked with Rick know, he threw himself into the work. Rick and I have often disagreed on our preferred approaches to dealing with investor protection issues, but I knew that I could count on a frank, purposeful exchange whenever we spoke, and I knew that his commitment to investors was deep. I will miss working with him and hearing stories about his kids.
Today’s agenda, as usual for these meetings, is sure to be interesting. The first deals with accounting for what is described as “non-traditional financial information,” which will include a discussion about the accounting and auditing framework that undergirds our capital markets. I hope that, as you think about changing these structures to accommodate the modern stakeholder, you pause to marvel at the role independent, objective, apolitical accounting standards have played in drawing investors from all over the globe to our markets.
As part of today’s second panel, please consider whether our proposed climate disclosure mandate would change fundamentally this agency’s role in the economy, and whether such a change would benefit investors. Are these disclosure rules designed to elicit disclosure or to change behavior in a departure from the neutrality of our core disclosure rules? I have detailed my concerns about the climate proposal, so I will not rehash them here, but I do offer this bit of advice: for the IAC to maintain its role as a unique and valuable source of insight and wisdom, it must ensure when it meets that there is room at the table for a diversity of opinion. Inquisitive voices are perhaps especially important when we think consensus on any given issue has been achieved.
I also look forward to the discussion of the Committee’s two proposed recommendations. Investor advocacy clinics at law schools have played a valuable role in serving investors with small claims. That said, given the advocacy role many of these clinics play in Commission rulemakings, Commission involvement in securing taxpayer funding for them could be problematic. Some of the recommendations for protecting older adult investors make sense, but please think about whether the role being suggested for the proposed coordination center could be served by the SEC’s existing Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. I wholly support the Commission maintaining its central role in the fight against elder financial abuse, including by improving the linkages among relevant databases and working closely with state regulators. We must, however, ensure that while we do whatever we can to strengthen older investors’ ability to identify and take active measures to avoid fraud, we also commit to respecting their autonomy and right to direct their financial lives as they determine.
Thank you again to all who have made today’s meeting possible, including our panel moderators, our visiting panelists, our new members, and Adam Anicich.
 See Hester M. Peirce, Commissioner, SEC, Statement, “We are Not the Securities and Environment Commission - At Least Not Yet” (March 21, 2022), https://www.sec.gov/news/statement/peirce-climate-disclosure-20220321.