In February, SEC Chairperson Mary Jo White gave a speech to kick off the 2014 “SEC Speaks” event held in Washington, DC addressing generally the state of the SEC in 2013 and upcoming priorities and initiatives for 2014. In her speech, Chairperson White highlighted the three primary priorities that were set by the SEC in 2013, including (i) implementation of Congressional rulemaking under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act); (ii) intensifying the SEC’s efforts to ensure that the U.S. equity markets were operating to best serve the interest of all investors, and (iii) strengthening the enforcement program; and discussed upcoming priorities for 2014.

First, Chairperson White highlighted the progress made by the SEC with respect to the various rules adopted to implement the Dodd-Frank Act and identified many of the specific rules and regulations the SEC adopted in 2013, including (among others), (i) identity theft rules to detect red flags and prevent identity theft; (ii) reforms to the private offering market mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act, including lifting the ban on general solicitation; (iii) “bad actor” rules disqualifying bad actors from certain private offerings; (iv) financial responsibility rules for broker-dealers; (v) rules governing the registration and regulation of municipal advisors; (vi) regulations implementing the Volcker Rule; and (vii) rules to govern cross-border swap transactions in the over-the-counter derivatives market. 

Second, Chairperson White also noted the SEC’s dedication to enhancing investor protection in 2013, including the consideration of the role and duties of investment advisers. Chairperson White noted that the SEC will also continue to engage with other domestic and international regulators to ensure that the risks that are interconnected among many financial systems are identified, addressed and appropriately monitored; and she stated that in 2014 the SEC will continue to prioritize the review of the equity market structure, focusing on how it impacts investors and companies of every size.

Chairperson White then discussed the enforcement program results from 2013, noting that the SEC modified its long-standing no admit/no deny settlement protocol and now requires admissions in a broad range of cases. Additionally, in 2013 the SEC increased its focus on accounting fraud through the creation of a new task for (the Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force) whose goal was to examine new trends or patterns of conduct that may be risk indicators for financial fraud. 

Finally, Chairperson White discussed some new priorities for 2014, including (i) an initiative to begin focusing more on the public markets as well as the private markets, (ii) increased risk monitoring and data analytics activities and (iii) the use of powerful new data analytics and technology tools in its National Examination Program to conduct more effective and efficient risk-based examinations on registrants. The full text of Chairperson White’s speech is available here