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March 14, 2016

Critical Questions that Should Be Asked at the Senate Banking Committee Confirmation Hearing for SEC Nominees Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce

Monday, March 14, 2016
Contact: Shanessa Bryant, 202-618-6433 or

Critical Questions that Should Be Asked at the Senate Banking Committee Confirmation Hearing for SEC Nominees Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce

Washington, DC — The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the nominations of Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce to serve as members of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the key agency responsible for protecting investors and ensuring the fairness, transparency, and stability of our securities markets.  If our public equity markets are going to continue to provide the capital for America’s businesses and create jobs and economic growth, investor confidence must be restored, our markets must be fair, and investors must believe in that fairness. With those goals in mind, Steve Hall, Legal Director and Securities Specialist for Better Markets, proposes that the nominees be asked the following questions:

  1. Given that investor protection is the SEC’s primary mission, what specifically will you do to ensure that the investor is prioritized in all that the SEC does? 
  2. Do you think that the composition of SEC advisory committees should be weighted toward investor protection advocates?  At a minimum, do you think they should be balanced between investor advocates and industry representatives?  Are there any circumstances in which you think an SEC committee should be dominated by industry participants?
  3. Do you think that senior executives and supervisors at the largest financial firms in the country should be held accountable when they or their institutions break the law?  How do you think that can best be accomplished?  Do you think that the SEC has done enough in this area so far?  How do you think the SEC should use its disqualification authority in this context?
  4.  It has been eight years since the 2008 financial crash and economic catastrophe that will cost the U.S. more than $20 trillion, yet the Dodd-Frank Act, which was designed to reform our markets and prevent another crisis, has not been fully implemented.  How will you push the SEC to quickly finalize the rules that remain, including specifically the rules related to the derivatives markets, executive compensation practices, and credit rating agencies? 
  5. What is your view on whether the SEC should propose and finalize a new rule ending conflicts of interest among financial advisers when hardworking Americans seek investment advice and requiring all financial advisers to act in the best interest of their clients without regard to their own financial interest?
  6. Do you think that the current structure of the equity markets with 12 exchanges and more than 40 dark pools serves investors and promotes capital formation?  What specifically will you do to address the flaws in market structure?  What role do you see for high frequency trading (HFT) in the markets today?  Do you think there are abuses associated with HFT and, if so, what will you do about it?
  7. What is your view of the importance of a Consolidated Audit Trail?  Do you find it acceptable that the SEC still does not have a state of the art, real time, and effective CAT to monitor the markets, investigate wrongdoing, and enforce the law?
  8. Finally, do you think the revolving door between the SEC and industry, including the private bar, is a problem?  How do you think the SEC should address that?  How can the SEC attract and retain top level professionals who have an undivided loyalty to the SEC’s investor protection mission?


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit

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