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15 Sep 2017
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The SEC’s Response to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Irma created unfathomable damage across the Caribbean and the southeastern United States. As organizations and government bodies commit to rescuing people and rebuilding communities, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has guaranteed to safeguard capital markets in the midst of implementing new trading regulations.

SEC Chairman, Jay Clayton, announced that the SEC “will be closely monitoring the effects of Hurricane Irma.” He continued, “[w]e will be making sure investors have access to their securities accounts, evaluating the need to extend deadlines for filings and other regulatory requirements, and keeping a watchful eye for storm-related scams”. The SEC, during this devastating time, has committed to continue protecting the interests of investors and the capital markets. Although the SEC’s Miami office is closed, individuals in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico can contact the Atlanta regional office.

The SEC has been mindful of the loss people have experienced and has stated they will “evaluate the possibility of granting relief from filing deadlines and other regulatory requirements” to those impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane . The Financial Times commented on Chairman Clayton’s populist shift as the SEC focuses on “Main Street” investors or “Mr and Ms 401-k”. Protecting everyday investors is particularly important in times of strife. As cyberattacks frequently threaten investment firms, Chairman Clayton explained that “If a company is being responsible … I don’t think we should be punishing them for being a victim.” The rhetoric of the SEC in response to the hurricanes is similar in that they are willing to give investors the relief necessary in the midst of uncontrollable circumstances.

As of late, the SEC has been determined to integrate new methods to create greater efficiency in the market, even during the chaos brought by the storms. The SEC’s amendment to Rule 15c6-1(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act 1934 to limit the timeframe to settle broker-dealer securities transaction from three business days to two has officially been enforced since September 5. The amendment is a promising step from the SEC to evolve in light of today’s new technology, which our economy is becoming increasingly reliant on.  Commissioner Kara Stein noted that this “shortened settlement cycle benefits investors and contributes to the resiliency of our securities market”.

[1] https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2017-164

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