SEC Has ‘Opportune’ Moment for Technical Work: Piwowar

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By Andrew Ramonas

Acting SEC Chairman Michael Piwowar March 2 said the agency now has more freedom to focus on “hyper-technical” matters concerning the asset management industry and other non-Dodd-Frank Act issues.

Piwowar told an Investment Adviser Association conference in Washington that he’s suspended the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Dodd-Frank rulemaking activities. The pause creates an “opportune time” for the SEC to devote itself to other matters, Piwowar said.

“For you all what that means is continued engagement with staff on some hyper-technical ideas that aren’t going to make headlines in the newspapers or whatever,” Piwowar said. “But we don’t care. We’re at our best when we’re a nice little boring regulatory agency that does our job.”

Piwowar, who became the SEC’s interim leader in January, also touted the commission’s unanimous votes advancing disclosure proposals and rules at a March 1 open meeting.

Democrat Kara Stein and Piwowar, the only commissioners left on the five-member panel, voted to seek comment on whether bank holding companies should be required to disclose more statistical information. In other votes, they agreed to require companies to include hyperlinks in filings and proposed that businesses use the Inline XBRL format in their filings and municipal issuers report more information, including details on bank loans.

Piwowar said he has more commission actions “teed up” to go while SEC chairman nominee Jay Clayton waits for confirmation in the Senate. He said he’s interested in “good government-type things” and matters “that need a fresh look.”

“What I would like to do is put up what we call ‘mom and apple pie'-type issues,” Piwowar said. “Issues that even if he comes on as chairman, he’ll say, ‘Yes, of course. This is a great thing we should be doing.’ ”

With an evenly divided commission, Piwowar is unlikely to bring sweeping regulatory changes. He has, however, ordered SEC staff to reconsider the implementation of two controversial Dodd-Frank regulations: the pay ratio and conflict minerals rules.

The regulations are the “most egregious” Dodd-Frank rules that the SEC is tasked with handling, he said.

“I directed staff to put it out for public comment and for us to get comments about how it’s not working, how there’s unintended consequences from this rule, potentially as a way for us to go back and revisit the rule or to give the information to Congress to think about potentially repealing those sorts of things,” Piwowar said.

He declined to elaborate on his remarks in a brief exchange with reporters after his talk.

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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