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Remarks At The Meeting Of The Investor Advisory Committee, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, Sept. 24, 2020

Date 24/09/2020

Thank you, Paul [Mahoney].

I want to echo the thanks to Anne [Simpson] for your service on the Committee. You have done a remarkable job, and I thank you for your valuable contributions.

I also want to extend a warm welcome to Satyam Khanna to his first Committee meeting.  It’s good to see you back in the building, albeit virtually, and I appreciate you sharing your time and expertise with the Committee. 

Turning to today’s agenda, I am pleased that you will spend time this morning discussing these two important topics: self-directed individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, and minority community investor inclusion.[1]  As I indicated at the Committee’s meeting last November,[2] both of these are topics that are of great importance to me, and I appreciate the Committee’s focus on them today.     

In my discussion of IRAs, I asked two questions: (1) Do retail investors in self-directed IRAs have sufficient protections? and (2) Is there anything further the Commission should do to help these investors?  Self-directed IRAs are typically administered by custodians or trustees who may have only limited duties to the retail investor.  And a retail investor investing through a self-directed IRA may not receive a broker-dealer’s recommendations subject to Regulation Best Interest or advice subject to an investment adviser’s fiduciary duty.  In that circumstance, the retail investor would not have the protections afforded by those standards of conduct.  I hope today’s discussion will provide additional input as we consider what additional protections, if any, the Commission can and should provide these retail investors.

Turning to expanding opportunities for minority community investors, I firmly believe the Commission’s focus on promoting diversity, inclusion, and opportunity, both within the SEC and in the industries and markets we oversee, is of paramount importance.  It is a topic about which I have spoken at length, including at recent meetings of our Asset Management and Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committees.  A critical aspect of our job is to promote the interests of our long-term Main Street investors. This doesn’t just mean current investors but also those who will join the investor ranks over time.  Here, I believe we can all agree that, as a general matter, expanding our investor base is only a positive – America’s capital markets democratize wealth creation and provide new opportunities to investors.  Over 60 million U.S. households are currently invested in our markets,[3] but a closer look reveals considerable differences across demographic groups.  For example, while an estimated 61 percent of white households are invested, whether directly or through retirement accounts, that number falls to 31 percent for black households and 28 percent for Hispanic households.[4]  We should continually assess where we can do more to facilitate an inclusive environment for new investors, and this is particularly true for those from underrepresented communities in order to address the existing wealth gap.  This means asking ourselves how we can expand participation and representation in our markets, at all levels, whether that is through access to capital, access to investment opportunities, or access to financial education and financial empowerment – always with the overlay of our investor protection mandate. 

I look forward to the Committee’s discussion and recommendations on how we can continue to improve on each of these areas.     

Again, I thank each of you for sharing your time, expertise, and perspective, and I look forward to reviewing your recommendations. 

 

[1] My remarks are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission or my fellow Commissioners.

[2] See Chairman Jay Clayton, “Remarks at Meeting of the Investor Advisory Committee,” Nov. 7, 2019, available here.

[3] See Investment Company Fact Book (ICI, 60th ed. 2020) available at  https://www.ici.org/pdf/2020_factbook.pdf

[4] See Jesse Bricker et al., “Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2013 to 2016:  Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances,” Federal Reserve Bulletin, vol. 103 (September 2017), available at https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/scf17.pdf; Kim Parker and Richard Fry, Pew Research Center, More than half of U.S. households have some investment in the stock market (March 25, 2020), available at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/25/more-than-half-of-u-s-households-have-some-investment-in-the-stock-market/.