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SEC lays out priorities for next 5 years

The Securities and Exchange Commission wants public input on priorities for the next five years that were published Tuesday in a draft strategic plan.

The top priority is protecting Main Street investors, Chairman Jay Clayton emphasized in the draft plan. When those investors "seek professional advice, their choices all too often are not as clear as they should be. The distinction between investment professionals who sell securities and those who provide investment advice has become less clear. This lack of clarity makes it challenging for investors to understand what standards of conduct govern the investment professionals who assist them," the draft report said. It also cited a decline in public companies raising capital through the markets at the early stages, and "developments such as these make the SEC's vigilance more important than ever," the draft said. "They also require us to reassess the tools, methods and approaches used in the past and adapt them to ensure their continued effectiveness."

A second goal for SEC officials between now and fiscal year 2022 is keeping abreast of trends in evolving capital markets, including data security and electronic platforms. "As technological advancements and commercial developments have changed how our securities markets operate and spurred the development of new products, the SEC's ability to remain an effective regulator requires that we continually monitor the market environment — and adapt. We should expand our focus, expertise and, as necessary, our scope of operations in vital areas such as market monitoring analysis, market operations, including clearing and settlement, and electronic trading across our equity, fixed-income and other markets," said the draft plan, which also called for promoting agency preparedness and emergency response capabilities.

A third overall goal is enhancing the SEC's analytical capabilities and human capital development.

The SEC is seeking public comment on the draft plan.

"This plan focuses on the most important goals and initiatives that will best position the SEC to fulfill our mission of protecting investors, ensuring fair, orderly, and efficient markets and facilitating capital formation," said Mr. Clayton. "We are presenting the plan in a more concise and readable format this year, which we hope will further encourage investors – particularly our Main Street investors – and market participants to share their views on how we can meet and exceed their expectations of our agency."