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SEC to look at fixed-income markets, corporate disclosures, Clayton says

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton

The Securities and Exchange Commission will scrutinize fixed-income markets and ways to reduce corporate disclosure reporting burdens while protecting the interests of "Mr. and Mrs. 401(k)," Chairman Jay Clayton told the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday in his first official speech.

Under his direction, SEC staff are developing a fixed-income market structure advisory committee to review potential regulatory improvements. "The time is right for the SEC to broaden its review of market structure to include specifically the efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of our fixed-income markets. As waves of baby boomers retire every month and need investment options, fixed-income products — which are viewed as a stable place to store hard-earned money — will attract more and more Main Street investors."

On current corporate disclosure rules, there are some circumstances where they "are burdensome to generate, but may not be material to the total mix of information available to investors," said Mr. Clayton, who later said that "wholesale changes to the commission's fundamental regulatory approach would not make sense."

The SEC will also "make all reasonable efforts to bring clarity and consistency" to a new fiduciary rule and work with the Department of Labor "in a way that best serves the long-term interests of Mr. and Ms. 401(k)," he said. In June, Mr. Clayton called for public comment on standards of conduct for investment advisers and broker-dealers to help the SEC evaluate potential regulatory actions. The goals will be meaningful protections that do not "result in Main Street investors being deprived of affordable investment advice or products," he said.

Noting that his predecessor Mary Jo White "made great strides" in tackling congressional mandated rulemaking dictated by Dodd-Frank, the SEC today "has considerably more discretion over its agenda," Mr. Clayton said.