I can never say enough how much I respect the hard working people on the staff of and the commissioners leading the US Securities and Exchange Commission. I think they are well meaning public servants, many of whom sacrifice much more lucrative opportunities to shape and implement policy for the better good. We should all be thankful for their service.
That said, as my regular blogees know there are times I feel the Commission is not doing enough to help smaller businesses ease the process of capital formation to help them grow, create jobs and help the US economy. This is one of those times.
A telling sign: there is a part of the SEC’s website which is devoted to small business. Within that section is something called “Completed Initiatives of Interest to Small Business” (it’s at http://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus/sbrules.shtml). Other than the recent announcement that they were implementing something that was mandated by Congress in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2011 (making it harder to be an accredited investor), there have been no such “completed initiatives” since a release issued in February 2008.
As you know I’m not political here, but it is impossible to ignore that this period of inaction towards small business encompasses the entire Obama presidency. Which is weird because I really believe he wants to do what he can to help small businesses. I believe this is also true of SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro.
So why haven’t more good things happened? I don’t know. SEC was busy with Madoff. With Dodd-Frank. With the credit crisis. As with things like why don’t some people exercise, though, I believe you make time for the things you want to make time for. It’s just not a priority. I hope that changes.
There was big talk in November at the annual SEC small business conference, but frankly the current proposals circulating within the SEC are not big proposals, more around the edges (like reform of general solicitation, crowd funding, etc.). Not that a number of these things are not welcome. But it is time to think bigger. I am very hopeful that the new SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies will be the catalyst for that very big think.