Putting the SEC’s 2019 Annual Report in Context: Co‑Directors and Commissioner Peirce Look Behind the Numbers and Toward the Future (Part One of Two)

The SEC’s Division of Enforcement (Enforcement Division) recently released its Annual Report (Report) for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The Report outlines the Enforcement Division’s initiatives and areas of focus; presents data on its efforts; and discusses the results. Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin (together, the Directors), Co‑Directors of the Enforcement Division, supplemented the Report with additional observations about the role of the Enforcement Division in the SEC’s overall mandate. Two days before the Report was issued, SEC Commissioner Hester M. Peirce delivered a speech emphasizing the importance of looking beyond the Enforcement Division’s statistics to understand their context and practical ramifications. She also advocated improvements to the SEC’s enforcement program as part of an overall reform of the private funds industry. This first article in a two-part series considers the Enforcement Division’s efforts by reviewing relevant statistics and findings from the Report, with supplemental observations from the Directors and Peirce as appropriate. The second article goes beyond the Report’s statistics and examines the subjective factors in Peirce’s speech regarding how the Commission’s enforcement efforts can be evaluated and improved. For coverage of the Enforcement Division’s FY 2018 report, see “SEC Enforcement Division Annual Report Emphasizes Continuing Focus on Retail Investors, Individual Accountability, Cyber Misconduct and Digital Assets” (Dec. 6, 2018). For further commentary from the Directors, see “SEC Enforcement Co‑Director Reviews Division Performance” (Jan. 7, 2020); and “Despite Headwinds, Enforcement Remains Strong, Notes Co‑Director of SEC Enforcement Division” (Sep. 27, 2018).

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