The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed amendments Wednesday aimed at modernizing filings for registrants by requiring nearly all forms, filings and other materials be submitted to the SEC electronically.
"Today, we have the opportunity, I think an important opportunity, to require electronic filing for nearly all of the remaining paper filings required under the (Securities) Exchange Act," SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said at the commission's meeting Wednesday.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the proposed amendments, which require, among other things, that several filings, forms and other materials be submitted to the SEC through the agency's Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system, known as EDGAR. This includes certain self-regulatory organization forms; filings by broker-dealers, security-based swap dealers, and major security-based swap participants; as well as a host of other forms, according to an SEC fact sheet.
Mr. Gensler pointed out that while the commission first began requiring electronic submissions through EDGAR in 1993, it wasn't until 2015 that brokers began to electronically file their annual audits. The SEC oversees more than 35,000 broker-dealers, he added, most of which submit annual audit reports.
"I believe the proposal, if adopted, would save both registrants and the commission time and resources," he said at the meeting.
Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., president and CEO of Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade association for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers, expressed his support for the rule proposal.
"SIFMA commends the SEC for proposing electronic submission changes, moving toward implementing a modernized filing framework suitable for the 21st century," Mr. Bensten said in a statement. "The logical and natural next step is for the SEC to also review its rules on the delivery of investor communications and foster evolution in the quality of investor communications and engagement."
While SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce voted to adopt the proposal, she expressed concern that registrants "have been flooded with proposals over the past two years." She said while the commission needs commenters' input, "commenters are overwhelmed at the moment."
The SEC had also planned to vote on a proposed rule expanding reporting requirements for large hedge funds and private equity firms, but the commission removed it from the agenda before Wednesday's meeting.
"As Chair Gensler has said in the past, the commission considers rule-making actions when the commission and staff think they're ready," an SEC spokeswoman said in an email. "It's been a busy few weeks, and the commission decided to take a little more time with the Form PF adoption release."