Within the SEC, there are five divisions. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the SEC has 11 regional offices throughout the US.
The SEC's divisions are:
Trading and Markets
Economic and Risk Analysis
Corporation Finance is the division that oversees the disclosure made by public companies, as well as the registration of transactions, such as mergers, made by companies. The division is also responsible for operating EDGAR.
The Trading and Markets division oversees self-regulatory organizations such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) and all broker-dealer firms and investment houses. This division also interprets proposed changes to regulations and monitors operations of the industry. In practice, the SEC delegates most of its enforcement and rulemaking authority to FINRA. In fact, all trading firms not regulated by other SROs must register as a member of FINRA. Individuals trading securities must pass exams administered by FINRA to become registered representatives.
The Investment Management Division oversees registered investment companies, which include mutual funds, as well as registered investment advisors. These entities are subject to extensive regulation under various federals securities laws. The Division of Investment Management administers various federal securities laws, in particular the Investment Company Act of 1940 and Investment Advisers Act of 1940. This division's responsibilities include:
assisting the Commission in interpreting laws and regulations for the public and SEC inspection and enforcement staff;
responding to no-action requests and requests for exemptive relief;
reviewing investment company and investment adviser filings;
assisting the Commission in enforcement matters involving investment companies and advisers; and
advising the Commission on adapting SEC rules to new circumstances.
The Enforcement Division works with the other three divisions, and other Commission offices, to investigate violations of the securities laws and regulations and to bring actions against alleged violators. The SEC generally conducts investigations in private. The SEC's staff may seek voluntary production of documents and testimony, or may seek a formal order of investigation from the SEC, which allows the staff to compel the production of documents and witness testimony. The SEC can bring a civil action in a U.S. District Court, or an administrative proceeding which is heard by an independent administrative law judge (ALJ). The SEC does not have criminal authority, but may refer matters to state and federal prosecutors. The director of the SEC's Enforcement Division Robert Khuzami left the office in February 2013.
Among the SEC's offices are:
The Office of General Counsel, which acts as the agency's "lawyer" before federal appellate courts and provides legal advice to the Commission and other SEC divisions and offices;
The Office of the Chief Accountant, which establishes and enforces accounting and auditing policies set by the SEC. This office has played a role in such areas as working with the Financial Accounting Standards Board to develop Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board in developing audit requirements, and the International Accounting Standards Board in advancing the development of International Financial Reporting Standards;
The Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations, which inspects broker-dealers, stock exchanges, credit rating agencies, registered investment companies, including both closed-end and open-end (mutual funds) investment companies, money funds. and Registered Investment Advisors;
The Office of International Affairs, which represents the SEC abroad and which negotiates international enforcement information-sharing agreements, develops the SEC's international regulatory policies in areas such as mutual recognition, and helps develop international regulatory standards through organizations such as the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the Financial Stability Forum;
The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, which helps educate the public about securities markets and warns investors of fraud and stock market scams;
The Office of Economic Analysis, which helps the SEC estimate the economic costs and benefits of its various rules and regulations; and
The Office of Information Technology, which supports the Commission and staff in information technology, including application development, infrastructure operations. and engineering, user support, IT program management, capital planning, security, and enterprise architecture.
The Inspector General. The SEC announced in January 2013 that it had named Carl Hoecker the new inspector general. He has a staff of 22.