Search for SEC Small Business Advocate Starts Soon: Piwowar

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By Andrew Ramonas

The Securities and Exchange Commission is taking steps to set up a small-business advocate office, acting SEC Chairman Michael Piwowar said Feb. 15.

In his first public speech as the agency’s interim leader, Piwowar said the commission will begin its search for a head for the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation “in the near future.” The new position was created by the SEC Small Business Advocate Act, which became law in December.

“The law requires that the new advocate be someone who is not a current SEC employee, so I hope you will encourage good candidates you may know to apply,” Piwowar said at a meeting of the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies.

The legislation also codified the advisory panel, whose charter will expire in September. The panel will be known as the Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee. The advisory committee was created in 2011 to focus on the needs of privately held small businesses and publicly traded companies with a market capitalization of less than $250 million.

The new office and committee were based on the SEC’s Office of the Investor Advocate and Investor Advisory Committee, which came out of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The advocate will be responsible for dentifying challenges small companies have with getting access to capital, determining the effects of proposed rules on the businesses and suggesting regulatory changes, among other responsibilities. The advocate’s office also will work with the small business advisory committee regarding SEC rules and policies that affect small businesses.

The bill is expected to cost the agency $7 million to implement through 2020, according to a 2016 Congressional Budget Office report.

Brett Palmer, president of the Small Business Investor Alliance, said his organization has pushed hard for the advocate. Small companies are “always an afterthought” at the SEC, Palmer said.

“I’m glad they’re moving on it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Ramonas in Washington at aramonas@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com; Seth Stern at sstern@bna.com

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