About the Ombudsman
Section 4(g)(8) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 requires the Investor Advocate to appoint an Ombudsman to:
- act as a liaison between the Commission and any retail investor in resolving problems that retail investors may have with the Commission or with a self-regulatory organization (SRO);
- review policies and procedures and make recommendations to encourage people to present questions to the Investor Advocate regarding compliance with the securities laws; and
- establish safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of communications between these persons and the Ombudsman.
How We Help
The Ombudsman may be able to assist if you are a retail investor, and you:
- are unable to determine the proper avenue for handling your concern;
- feel you have exhausted all other SEC resources; and/or
- want to discuss your matter confidentially.
Retail investors and other interested persons may also contact the Ombudsman to present questions or issues to the Investor Advocate relating to compliance with the securities laws.
The Ombudsman and her staff will listen to your inquiries, complaints, and related issues; review the information you provide; and help you identify available options, resources, and procedures. Depending on the particular circumstances, the Ombudsman may exercise discretion to determine when, whether, and how to respond to an issue, inquiry, or concern. Where an established SEC procedure exists to address your issue or concern, the Ombudsman will direct you to the appropriate SEC staff or resources, and, as necessary, may monitor the outcome. However, if there is no existing procedure to address the issue or concern, the Ombudsman may engage other SEC staff to determine and develop options for resolution. The Ombudsman does not have the authority to resolve every issue, nor does the Ombudsman’s role supplant or replace existing SEC programs, processes, or resolution channels.
Contact the Ombudsman
The easiest way for you to contact the Ombudsman is through the Ombudsman Matter Management System (OMMS). Just click the button below to access OMMS -- simple, straightforward, and secure. By using OMMS, you greatly enhance our ability to access and review your matter details and respond to you in a timely manner. Click the OMMS button below to get started.
Questions, Complaints, or Concerns for the Ombudsman?
Once you click "Submit Form" in OMMS, you should receive an OMMS Matter ID Number confirming that your matter was submitted. Full contact information for the Ombudsman is below for your convenience:
Tracey L. McNeil, Ombudsman
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549
Phone: (202) 551-3330
Toll-free: (877) 732-2001
Fax: (301) 847-4722
Ombudsman Standards of Practice
The Ombudsman is guided by three core standards of practice:
The Ombudsman has established safeguards to protect confidentiality, including the use of OMMS, a separate email address, dedicated telephone and fax lines, and secure file storage. The Ombudsman generally treats matters as confidential, and takes reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality of communications. The Ombudsman also attempts to address matters without sharing information outside of the Ombudsman staff, unless given permission to do so. However, the Ombudsman may need to contact other SEC divisions or offices, SROs, entities, and/or individuals and share information without permission under certain circumstances including, but not limited to: a threat of imminent risk or serious harm; assertions, complaints, or information relating to violations of the securities laws; allegations of government fraud, waste, or abuse; or if otherwise required by law.
The Ombudsman does not represent or act as an advocate for any individual or entity, and does not take sides on any issues. The Ombudsman maintains an impartial, neutral position; considers the interests and concerns of all involved parties; and works to resolve problems, complaints, and concerns by clarifying issues and procedures, facilitating discussions, and identifying options and resources.
The Office of the Investor Advocate is designed to remain somewhat independent from the rest of the SEC. By statute, the Ombudsman reports directly to the Investor Advocate, who reports directly to the Chairman of the SEC.
The Ombudsman is available to:
- clarify certain SEC decisions, policies, and practices;
- explore informal, objective steps to resolve matters that fall outside of the SEC’s established dispute resolution channels and procedures; and
- serve as an alternate channel of communication between retail investors and the SEC.
The Ombudsman does not:
- impose, interfere with, or modify any statutes, regulations, or laws – including any related policies, practices, or procedures – followed or enforced by the SEC;
- make decisions or legal determinations for the SEC;
- serve as a formal office of legal notice for the SEC;
- make binding decisions or mandate policies;
- participate in formal investigations or play a role in a formal resolution process;
- address matters already in litigation or under formal investigation;
- overturn any decisions of existing dispute resolution or appellate bodies;
- provide any financial, legal, or investment advice; and
- serve in any role that compromises the impartiality of the Ombudsman.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who may contact the Ombudsman?
Retail investors may contact the Ombudsman if they have a specific concern about the SEC or a self-regulatory organization (SRO) the SEC oversees. Retail investors and other interested persons may also contact the Ombudsman to present questions or issues to the Investor Advocate relating to securities law and policy, or if they wish to present their concerns, questions, or issues in a confidential forum.
What if I am not a retail investor or my concerns are not about the SEC or an SRO?
Will the Ombudsman act as my advocate?
No. The Ombudsman does not represent or act as an advocate for any person or entity, and does not take sides on any issues. The Ombudsman maintains an impartial, neutral position when resolving problems, complaints, and concerns.