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Remarks at the SEC/DFI/NASAA Joint Public Roundtable

Madison, WI

July 25, 2023

Thank you, Adam [Anicich]. I am honored to participate in this public roundtable, which brings together federal and state securities regulators. Among others participating today from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are our Investor Advocate, Cristina Martin Firvida, our Chicago Regional Director, Daniel Gregus, and Hane Kim of the Retail Strategy Task Force. We also heard from Chair Gary Gensler.

Prior to joining the SEC in 2006, I served as Chief Advisor to the California Corporations Commissioner, which was the state securities regulator, and I saw firsthand the important role of state securities regulators in protecting retail investors from predators and con artists. Today’s event will provide an opportunity to exchange perspectives to further this common goal. The views that I will express today represent my individual views as a Commissioner and not necessarily the views of the Commission or my fellow Commissioners.

Since we are here at the headquarters of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), I’d like to take a moment to remember the late Patty Struck. Patty served as a member of DFI from its formation in 1996 through her untimely passing in 2015. During her accomplished career, Patty held numerous roles, including as the Wisconsin Securities Administrator, NASAA President, NASAA board member, and chair of NASAA’s investment adviser section. But for me, her most important role was as a friend and mentor. I was privileged to know, and work, with Patty through NASAA at the very beginning of my career as a securities regulator. Patty’s guidance influenced my approach to being a dedicated and effective public servant and securities regulator for nearly 20 years.

Today’s event will allow regulators to hear directly from retail investors. Broader access to investment options has provided retail investors with more opportunities for wealth generation and retirement stability. However, some persons seek to take advantage of investors, either in the form of outright fraud or not acting in the best interest of their customers or clients. While it is disheartening to hear about this breach of trust, it is important for regulators to understand the methods by which retail investors are harmed and the real-world impact on investors’ lives.

The SEC has a three-part mission to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. Our efforts to enforce the federal securities laws serve each of these missions by holding bad actors accountable and deterring future misconduct. These efforts complement the efforts of our state regulator colleagues, who have primary oversight responsibility for many individuals and entities that provide services to retail investors, but might not be registered with the SEC.

To the extent that individuals are harmed by fraud or other violations of state or federal securities laws, the SEC and state regulators may be the only parties with the resources and willingness to seek justice for harmed investors. For this reason, I am especially proud of the work done by the Retail Strategy Task Force, which was formed by the SEC’s Division of Enforcement in 2017 to address frauds targeting retail investors. This task force includes enforcement personnel from around the country and works with staff across the SEC. The work of the task force complements the efforts of the SEC’s Division of Examinations, Office of the Investor Advocate and Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, all of which serve to promote the interests of retail investors.

I would like to thank Leslie Van Buskirk of the Wisconsin DFI and Andrew Hartnett, NASAA’s President and the Deputy Commissioner for the Iowa Insurance Department for their efforts to make today’s event possible. I would also like to thank the retail investors who will share their stories during this upcoming panel. I can think of nothing more powerful than using your experience with securities fraud to strengthen protections for others.

Thank you.

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