The Securities and Exchange Commission has pledged to write more clearly beginning this fall.
The agency published its plan earlier this month for meeting the requirements of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires all federal agencies to use clear and concise language when preparing new or substantially revised documents. By Oct. 13, the SEC must use Federal Plain Language Guidelines and dejargonize documents that explain how to follow government rules or receive a benefit or service.
The law approved last year doesn't apply to regulations, but narrative text the commission issues with its proposed or adopted rules will follow the plain-English rules, the SEC said. Other SEC documents that will use an easy-to-understand written style include no-action letters, exemptive and interpretive orders, SRO rule-filing notices and orders, compliance and investor alerts, comment letters, answers to frequently asked questions, press releases, published speeches and correspondence.
“One would think "plain English' is easy to do,” said Lori Schock, the agency's director of investor education and the official tasked with leading the plain-English effort. “People get caught up in the jargon and legalese that we use every day, but the end user does not.”
Liz Skinner is a reporter with InvestmentNews, a sister publication of Pensions & Investments.