What Is the SEC?

What Is the SEC?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

The SEC, or Securities and Exchange Commission, is a federal agency designed to govern the securities industry and protect investors. Established in 1934, the SEC enforces laws pertaining to the trading of stocks, bonds, and other types of securities. Its primary goal is to ensure fair and transparent markets while aiming to prevent corporate fraud. The SEC requires public companies to disclose certain financial and other information to the public, providing a common pool of knowledge for all investors to use to judge for themselves whether to buy, sell, or hold a particular security.

Related Questions

1. Who governs the SEC?

The SEC is governed by five commissioners who are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The President also selects one of the commissioners to serve as chairman.

2. What responsibilities does the SEC have in terms of securities?

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The SEC is charged with maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets. This includes enforcing compliance with federal securities laws, regulating securities exchanges and other markets, and overseeing the protection of investors and market participants.

3. What penalties can the SEC impose?

The SEC has the authority to impose a variety of penalties for violations of securities laws. These can include fines, orders to repay illegal profits, temporary or permanent suspensions from the securities industry, bans from serving as an officer or director of a publicly-traded company, and more.

4. How does the SEC impact average investors?

For the average investor, the SEC plays a crucial role in ensuring that they have access to key factual information about the companies whose securities they are buying, selling or holding. By overseeing corporate disclosure of important information, the SEC helps to promote transparency, fairness, and efficiency in the market.

5. Can anyone report a violation to the SEC?

Yes, anyone can report suspicious activity or information about a securities transaction that might violate federal securities laws, as well as potential violations of securities law, such as insider trading, fraud, or bribery.