What Is SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission)?

The SEC is a government agency that safeguards investors, ensures fair securities markets, and supports capital formation. Established in 1934, it was the first federal regulator of securities markets. The SEC focuses on transparency, preventing fraud, and overseeing corporate takeovers. Additionally, it approves registration statements for bookrunners in underwriting firms. So, What Is SEC?

Typically, securities that are offered across state lines, through mail or online, need to be registered with the SEC before they can be sold to investors. Financial firms, including broker-dealers, advisory firms, asset managers, and their representatives, must also register with the SEC to carry out their business activities. For instance, they would be accountable for approving a legitimate bitcoin exchange.

How SEC Works?

The main role of the SEC is to supervise companies and individuals in the securities markets. This includes securities exchanges, brokerage firms, dealers, investment advisors, and investment funds. The SEC enforces rules and regulations to ensure that market-related information is disclosed and shared, fair practices are followed, and investors are protected from fraud. It also offers investors access to registration statements, financial reports, and other securities forms through its electronic database called EDGAR.

The president appoints five commissioners to lead the SEC, with one serving as chair. Each commissioner serves a five-year term, but can continue for an extra 18 months until a replacement is chosen. Gary Gensler is the current SEC chair, assuming office on April 17, 2021. To ensure fairness, the law states that no more than three commissioners can belong to the same political party.

The SEC is made up of five divisions and 23 offices. Their objectives include interpreting and enforcing securities laws, issuing new regulations, overseeing securities institutions, and coordinating government regulations.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is also the initial point of appeal for decisions made by self-regulatory organizations in the securities industry, like FINRA or the NYSE.

The Office of the Whistleblower is a standout among the SEC’s offices for enforcing securities laws. It was established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. This program rewards eligible individuals who provide original information that leads to successful law enforcement actions with monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million. These individuals can receive 10% to 30% of the total proceeds from the sanctions.


Understanding the SEC’s functions and regulatory scope is essential for investors, companies, and financial professionals. By promoting transparency, fairness, and accountability, the SEC contributes significantly to the stability and efficiency of the financial markets, ultimately supporting economic growth and protecting the interests of investors.