SEC Commissioner Kara Stein Gets Candid With FWSF!

Written by Katie D’Angelo

Kara SteinSEC Commissioner Kara Stein spent an evening with an intimate group for a candid roundtable discussion on the issues facing the securities and financial services industries.

Commissioner Stein expressed her desire to meet with women’s groups in the cities that she is traveling to — not just in the US, but globally — and stated that women often have a different view of the issues and regulations facing the industry and are under-represented in the discussion.

Stein shared that when the SEC develops regulations, it finds the tension between small businesses that welcome a check-list in order to facilitate compliance, and larger organizations which prefer more general guidance and room for interpretation. The room commented that while FINRA is a member organization, the SEC is not, and the relationship can feel very different. Commissioner Stein expressed her desire to improve coordination across the SEC examination teams as well as opening the dialogue between the SEC and the organizations they oversee. She acknowledged that this is especially important for small businesses.

On the topic of conflict legislation, Stein said that more work needs to be done to ensure that companies can still grow their businesses while ensuring that appropriate rules are in place to protect consumers. She shared that she is often looking for the counterpoint, or what will “stress the system” in any piece of regulation. She noted her dissent from the decision of the majority of the Commission approving NASDAQ Rule 5713, which adopted new listing standards for “Paired Class Shares.”  She felt that these standards are complex and she did not feel the rule filing demonstrated that investors would be adequately protected.

Stein acknowledged that women are still underrepresented on corporate boards, but noted that she sees more boards focusing on diversity and moving away from the old boys’ network. She encouraged young women to focus on work they love, to seek out those who already do that work and network through organizations like FWSF.

Ms. Stein encouraged us to bring the “West Coast point of view” to her staff by reaching out directly or through the comment section on her website. She said that the comments in the room from business leaders are exactly what she and her staff are looking for.  FWSF was honored to have this candid conversation with Commissioner Stein and thanks the Haas School of Business for sponsoring the event. Let’s keep the conversation going!

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