September 08, 2014

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Appoints First Ombuds

On Friday, the SEC announced that Tracey L. McNeil has been selected as the first Ombudsman for the agency.  She will begin her new post on September 22.  The IOA had urged the SEC to carefully define the role and, although a bit vague, the announcement makes it sound like McNeil will be a Classical Ombuds.

SEC press release:
[McNiel] currently is a senior counsel in the SEC’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI), an office created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.  In this position, she has advised the director of OMWI in establishing the office and has worked to ensure the fair inclusion and utilization of minorities, women, and minority-owned and women-owned businesses in all business and activities of the agency.  Prior to joining OMWI in 2011, Ms. McNeil spent three years in the Division of Corporation Finance, where she worked to ensure that investors were given adequate disclosure as required by law.
In her new role, Ms. McNeil will report to Rick Fleming, the first head of the SEC’s Office of the Investor Advocate.  The Dodd-Frank Act called for the creation of the office and requires the Investor Advocate to appoint an ombudsman who will act as a liaison in resolving problems that retail investors may have with the Commission or self-regulatory organizations.  The ombudsman also will establish safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of communications with investors. 
“Investors will soon discover that Tracey McNeil is a person who cares deeply about their concerns,” said Mr. Fleming.  “In addition, her strong securities law background, solid legal and analytical skills, sound judgment, and well-established relationships with other offices and stakeholders will serve us well as we move forward in fulfilling our statutory mandate.”
Before joining the SEC staff, Ms. McNeil was an associate on the structured finance team at Hunton & Williams LLP, and counsel in the U.S. businesses group at MetLife.  She began her legal career as a capital markets associate in the New York office of Shearman & Sterling. 
Ms. McNeil has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Columbia University.  She received her J.D. degree from Fordham University School of Law, where she was a Notes and Articles Editor of the Fordham Urban Law Journal and a recipient of the Dean’s Award.
(SEC News.)

Related posts: Financial Regulatory Reform Will Create New Ombuds Programs; IOA Takes Position on Proposed SEC Ombuds Program; Chair of House Financial Services Committee Seeks Changes to Proposed SEC Ombuds Office.

2 comments:

  1. This role is well defined in the Dodd-Frank Act.
    (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ203/pdf/PLAW-111publ203.pdf pg. 466 - SEC. 919D. OMBUDSMAN.)
    Previous efforts to get the SEC to adopt an internal organizational ombuds and to promote organizational ombuds as responses to organizations engaged in questionable behavior have so far been unsuccessful. Of the 14 financial services firms with an ombuds required by their consent decree, only three have individuals titled 'ombuds' at this time. Two of these three are collateral duty. None of the three firms compensate the ombuds on a 40 hour week model.

    As we continue to see massive wrong doing and unethical behavior at almost all the major banks, the effort to increase the number of ombuds in the finnacial services area is obvious. The resistance also remains significant. JP Morgan Chase hired more than 3000 compliance personnel last year. CITI has been on a major drive to inculcate ethical behavior. Yet no new ombuds programs have been created.

    Programs once existed at other banks and financial services firm (Bank of America, Fleet Bank, etc.) and the function, in both Classical and Organizational structures, continues to be in use at the major Canadian banks.

    John W. Zinsser
    Co-founder and Principal, Pacifica Human Communications, LLC.
    Lecturer, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Columbia University.

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