I have long thought that the SEC is among the best, if not the best, government agency. Over the years, I’ve worked with and gotten to know many folks on the SEC’s staff, who have consistently impressed me as bright, hard-working, serious about the SEC’s mission, and very nice people. I am sure that most people on the staff continue to possess these and other great attributes.
As with most organizations, the tone at the top is critical. And, at least from outward appearances, the tone at the top of the SEC is at best dismissive, if not hostile, towards business, and disingenuous. I’m not saying that the SEC should bow to corporate America’s wishes and do its bidding. But it’s in the interest of our capital markets and the participants in those markets that the SEC consider a wide range of views and engage in thorough and thoughtful deliberation (part of what is known in the corporate world as the fiduciary duty of due care) before making decisions.
That does not seem to be the case. In the last year or so, the SEC has repeatedly demonstrated fealty to the institutional investor community by such things as announcing, early in Chair Gensler’s tenure, that the SEC would not enforce rules providing for a more level playing field between companies and proxy advisory firms, adopted by the SEC barely two years earlier, and then formally rescinding those rules (see here). I’m not saying those rules were perfect – far from it; in fact, they met the classic definition of compromise, in that all sides were dissatisfied with the outcome. However, they were a start, and instead of getting rid of them the SEC could and, IMHO, should have worked to improve them.
Continue Reading Rooting for the other guys?