This introduction outlines how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or the "Commission") was formed; its mission and structure; and the laws, rules, and regulations governing the securities industry. It also presents an overview of two SEC groups that public registrants and their auditors often interact with — the Division of Corporation Finance (the "Division") and the Commission's Office of the Chief Accountant (OCA), including the groups that are part of the OCA and their functions. Also covered are the SEC registration process and related forms as well as what SEC filings are available to the public via the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system.
In addition to reviewing the interpretations in these Q&As and information from the SEC's Web site, registrants seeking to improve their understanding of the SEC should consider consulting with their audit and legal professionals. While these interpretations primarily apply to U.S. domestic registrants, certain of them also apply to foreign private issuers. However, such issuers should also review other applicable guidance from the SEC.
Overview of the SEC
The SEC was formed by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The 1934 Act, along with the Securities Act of 1933, was designed to restore investor confidence after the Great Depression. The primary goals of the SEC are to (1) protect investors, (2) maintain fair and orderly markets, and (3) ensure capital formation in the markets. The SEC is an independent, nonpartisan, regulatory agency that has five commissioners, one of whom serves as the chairman. No more than three commissioners are from the same political party. The SEC has five divisions, including the Division, and various offices, such as the Commission's OCA and the Office of General Counsel.