Dec. 17, 2014
Good morning, and welcome to today´s meeting of the SEC´s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies.
I want to extend a special welcome to the new members of the Committee as well as to those members who are returning. Each of you bring to this Committee a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and insights about the needs of small businesses and the impact that our rules can and do have on this important part of our economy. I know you have busy schedules and multiple demands on your time, so I want to express my deep appreciation for your willingness to serve. Your thoughts, ideas, and recommendations will help the Commission´s thinking on the many important issues affecting small and emerging businesses.
I want to thank Stephen Graham and Chris Jacobs for agreeing to lead this Committee again as its Co-Chairs. I would also like to take a moment to recognize the invaluable contributions of Heath Abshure, who yesterday announced that he will be moving on from his current position as Arkansas Securities Commissioner and as the NASAA representative for this Committee. Heath has been a dedicated and energetic advocate for investors throughout his distinguished career, starting as a SEC attorney and then as the Arkansas Securities Commissioner and President of NASAA. He has always been a friend of the agency and we will all miss having him on the Committee. Lastly, I would like to thank Keith Higgins and the staff of the Division of Corporation Finance for their hard work in supporting the activities of this Committee and helping to organize this meeting.
You do not need any of us to tell you that small businesses play a crucial role in the growth of our nation´s economy and the creation of new jobs. Small businesses are a vital but often underrepresented segment of the American economy. This Committee plays a critical role in ensuring that the views of small business owners, investors, and other stakeholders in this business community are clearly heard at the Commission.
Now I know you have an ambitious agenda for today, but I want to take a few moments to provide a very brief update on a few of the initiatives that have been of interest to this Committee:
In November, the Commission published a notice soliciting comment on the plan. The comment period will run until December 22, next Monday. We appreciate the feedback — and welcome more. I am hopeful that a pilot program will yield data that will better inform our thinking about ways to build more robust markets for smaller public companies.
And, the Commission staff, including staff from the Division of Corporation Finance and the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, has been conducting a comprehensive review of this definition.
The goal of the review is to assess whether we are properly identifying the population of investors who should be able to purchase securities in offerings without the protections afforded by the registration requirements of the Securities Act. A critical part of the staff´s review is soliciting and considering input from the public and other interested parties. And there are varying views. We recently received recommendations regarding the accredited investor definition from the SEC´s Investor Advisory Committee. Those recommendations are very helpful, and we will be very interested to hear this Committee´s insights at today´s meeting.
I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from the Forum participants once they have been finalized.
We also recently launched a new initiative with the U.S. Small Business Administration to host public events across the country to inform small business owners and entrepreneurs about the options for capital-raising. SEC staff members, including from our Office of Small Business Policy, worked closely with SBA staff to highlight the ways that small businesses can raise funds and to answer questions from small business owners. We have already held two of these well-attended events, with more in the works.
Let me stop here and thank you again for your service on this Committee. I look forward to receiving the report on your meeting today and to continuing our dialogue to help small businesses in America.