SEC FinTech Forum Part 1

By Brian Vargo and Tyler Kirk

On November 14, 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission held its first forum exclusively focused on the impact of the FinTech movement on the capital markets. Specifically, the forum was organized into four panels addressing automated investment advice, blockchain and distributed ledger technology, crowd funding and marketplace lending, and investor protection. Over the coming weeks we will be posting the key takeaways and implications of each panel.

In her opening remarks, Chair White called for federal agencies to encourage innovation while balancing such encouragement with appropriate investor protections. She noted that the speed and impact of FinTech innovation increases the need for reviewing the sufficiency of regulation. In that spirit, Chair White asked the SEC staff to form a FinTech Working Group to help foster responsible innovation in the capital markets, while exploring the adequacy of the current regulatory framework to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. Commissioner Piwowar said in his remarks that the SEC  is uniquely positioned to take the lead regulatory role in the FinTech movement, because many FinTech companies are already registrants and, significantly, the SEC is the only federal agency whose mission includes capital formation. The remarks at the forum indicate that the SEC and industry expect FinTech to play an increasingly important role in the securities industry and that the SEC should continue to engage with industry members in developing regulations that are thorough and forward-looking.

As reported by Bloomberg, BlackRock released a white paper in September 2016 calling for a review of the current regulatory landscape in light of the growth and popularity of “Robo Advisers.” BlackRock’s paper discussed the need for robos to develop personal client relationships, disclose algorithms and fees, employ data protection and cyberattack mitigation, and for the development of disclosure standards. Indeed, the first panel at the forum addressed these very issues. Our next post will explore the panel in greater detail.

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