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April 3, 2023

Our Stock Markets Have Become Shadowy and Predatory for Investors, But the SEC’s Reform Proposals Will Help Restore Transparency and Fairness

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Stephen HallBetter Markets’ Legal Director and Securities Specialist, issued the following statement on the four Better Markets Comment Letters filed in response to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) proposed set of market structure reforms.

“The GameStop and meme-stock trading frenzies that occurred in early 2021 highlighted longstanding market integrity and investor protection issues in the U.S. equities markets. The plain truth is that in today’s stock markets, many investors—especially retail investors—are not getting the best available prices for their trades.  Over the last 20 years, the markets have changed dramatically, as they’ve become fragmented into dozens of trading venues and dominated by high-speed trading technologies that give an edge to a handful of sophisticated firms.  But the rules governing stock trading haven’t kept up, and the result is that everyday retail investors are getting burned. The collective damage is huge, as billions of dollars go from the pockets of individual investors into the coffers of the big players every year.

“The SEC has taken a bold step by proposing four reforms that aim to help level the playing field.  Once finalized, these rules will 1) strengthen the obligation of all brokers to get the best available prices for their clients; 2) make sure that most retail orders are sent through auctions where they’ll be exposed to open and competitive bidding; 3) reduce the trading increments or “tick sizes” to help improve buy and sell prices, while also reducing the fees that create harmful trade-routing incentives; and 4) increase transparency by expanding the reporting requirements that shed light on the quality of trade executions that brokers have achieved for their clients. In our comment letters, Better Markets has detailed the reforms, identified areas where they can be improved, and countered the attacks anticipated from industry.

“Those who profit from the status quo will of course cry foul, pushing back against the SEC with classic complaints that these reforms will be too costly or burdensome or will even make life worse for investors.  But those sky-is-falling arguments have a long history of falling flat, and none of them apply here.  When the dust settles, we expect to see a marketplace for securities trading that is substantially fairer and more transparent to the average American retail investor, thanks to the SEC’s reforms.”

Below you can find links to descriptions of the 4 rules and Better Markets’ commentary:

Regulation Best Execution

Order Competition Rule

Minimum Pricing Increments

Disclosure of Order Execution Information


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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