On December 6, 2023, the SEC published its semi-annual Fall 2023 regulatory agenda (“Agenda”) and plans for rulemaking. The Agenda is published twice a year, and for several years I have blogged about each publication. Although items on the Agenda can move from one category to the next, be dropped off altogether, or new items pop up in any of the categories (including the final rule stage), the Agenda provides valuable insight into the SEC’s plans and the influence that comments can make on the rulemaking process.
The Agenda is broken down by (i) Proposed Rule Stage; (ii) Final Rule Stage; and (iii) Long-term Actions. The Proposed and Final Rule Stages are intended to be completed within the next 12 months and Long-term Actions are anything beyond that. The number of items to be completed in a 12-month time frame is 43, down from 55 on the Spring 2023 Agenda.
Fourteen items are included in the proposed rule stage, down
On September 20, 2017, SEC Chair Jay Clayton issued a statement on cybersecurity that included the astonishing revelation that the SEC Edgar system had been hacked in 2016. Since the original statement, the SEC has confirmed that personal information on at least two individuals was obtained in the incident. Following Jay Clayton’s initial statement, on September 25, 2017, the SEC announced two new cyber-based enforcement initiatives targeting the protection of retail investors, including protection related to distributed ledger technology (DLT) and initial coin or cryptocurrency offerings (ICO’s).
The issue of cybersecurity is at the forefront for the SEC, and Jay Clayton is asking the House Committee on Financial Services to increase the SEC’s budget by $100 million to enhance the SEC’s cybersecurity efforts.
This is the first in a two-part blog series summarizing Jay Clayton’s statement, the SEC EDGAR hacking and the new initiatives. My prior blog outlining SEC guidance on the disclosure of cybersecurity matters can be read
In August 2016, FINRA quietly requested comment on a proposal to expand the now largely dormant OTC Bulletin Board quotation service (“OTCBB”) as a backup inter-dealer quotation system for OTC Equity securities. As part of the proposal, the OTCBB would be renamed and branded as the Over the Counter Display Facility or “ODF.” Previously, on October 7, 2014, the SEC published a release instituting proceedings to determine whether to approve FINRA’s request to delete the rules related to, and the operations of, the OTCBB. My blog on the proposal can be read HERE.
However, on March 12, 2015, FINRA withdrew the proposed rule change and request to delete the OTCBB. Although the March 12, 2015 withdrawal did not cite reasons, in its new request for comment, FINRA indicates it withdrew the proposal in response to SEC staff requests that FINRA continue to operate alternative quotation facility.
Since that time the OTCBB has remained largely relatively dormant. According
The SEC adopted Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity (Regulation SCI) on November 3, 2015 to improve regulatory standards and processes related to technology in the securities business including by financial services firms. Regulation SCI was originally proposed in March 2013. Security and standards related to technological processes, data storage and systems has been a top priority of the SEC over the last few years and continues to be so this year.
Technology has transformed the securities industry over the last years both in the area of regulatory oversight such as through algorithms to spot trading anomalies that could indicate manipulation and/or insider trading issues, and for market participants through enhanced speed, capacity, efficiency and sophistication of trading abilities. Enhanced technology carries the corresponding risk of failures, disruptions and of course hacking/intrusions. Moreover, as U.S. securities market systems are interconnected; an issue with one entity or system can have widespread consequences for all market participants.
Regulation SCI was proposed and
On June 5, 2014, Mary Jo White gave a speech at a conference on the topic of the structure of equity markets, the entire text of which is available on sec. gov. The speech was very high-level and broad-based with few specific initiative announcements. However, it does provide some insight into the direction of planned market structure initiatives and rule releases. This blog is a summary of her speech.
Ms. White began her speech by acknowledging that the SEC agrees with the basic premise that “investors and public companies benefit greatly from robust and resilient equity markets.”
Ms. White announced that she is recommending additional measures to “further promote market stability and fairness, enhance market transparency and disclosures, and build more effective markets for smaller companies.” In addition, she will request that the SEC create a new Market Structure Advisory Committee of experts to review specific initiatives and rule proposals.
Current Market Structure
As noted in Ms. White’s speech, today’s