The Office of the Investor Advocate was established at the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 24, 2014, when Rick A. Fleming was appointed as the Commission's first Investor Advocate.
The Office has four core functions:
- To Provide a Voice for Investors. We work to ensure that the needs of investors are considered as decisions are made at the SEC, at self-regulatory organizations (SROs), and in Congress. We analyze the potential impact on investors of proposed regulatory changes, identify problems that investors have with investment products and financial service providers, and recommend changes to statutes and regulations for the benefit of investors.
- To Assist Retail Investors. The Investor Advocate appoints an Ombudsman who acts as a liaison to assist retail investors in resolving problems they may have with the Commission or an SRO. Tracey L. McNeil is the SEC's first Ombudsman. See more about the services of the Ombudsman.
- To Study Investor Behavior. Under the leadership of Dr. Brian Scholl, the Office of the Investor Advocate is responsible for investor research. The research may encompass surveys, focus groups, and other methods to gain insight into investor behavior and provide data regarding policy choices. In addition, the Office reviews the economic analyses of rulemakings to ensure that they appropriately reflect the impact on investors from proposed rule changes.
- To Support the SEC's Investor Advisory Committee. The Office provides staff and operational support for the Committee, and the Investor Advocate serves as a statutory member. See more about the Committee.
Independent Role and Reports to Congress
While the Investor Advocate reports to the Chair of the SEC, the position nonetheless involves a measure of independence. The Office was established pursuant to a Congressional mandate, and the law requires the Investor Advocate to submit reports directly to Congress, without any prior review or comment from the Commissioners or SEC staff.
The Investor Advocate files two reports to Congress each year:
- A Report on Objectives, due each June 30, which sets forth the objectives of the Investor Advocate for the following fiscal year, and
- A Report on Activities, due each December 31, which describes the activities of the Investor Advocate during the immediately preceding fiscal year.
- See submitted reports.
We identify a short list of top policy priorities each year. In Fiscal Year 2017, we are focused on the following priorities. For details, please click each link below to see the corresponding section of our Report on Objectives for FY 2017.
Speeches and Public Statements
- The Rulemaking Process: Two Accounting and Auditing Mini-case Studies
(August 22, 2017)
- The Rulemaking Process-Accompanying Slides
(August 22, 2017)
- Enhancing the Demand for IPOs
(May 9, 2017)
- See all speeches
Reports to Congress
The Investor Advocate has submitted Recommendations:
- To FASB on the Definition of Materiality (July 11, 2017)
- To the SEC on FINRA Proposals on Financial Exploitation (Dec. 28, 2016)
- To the SEC on Proposals from FINRA and MRSB on mark-up disclosure for retail fixed income trades (November 7, 2016)
- To the SEC on Proposals from NYSE MKT and NYSE Arca on Filing Broker-Dealer Termination Notices (October 3, 2016)
- See all Recommendations
- About the Ombudsman and Contact Information
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
Office of the Investor Advocate
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549