Following the stock market crash in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, Congress passed the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which resulted in the creation of the SEC in 1934. The primary mission of the SEC was and is today to protect investors and maintain the integrity of the securities markets.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Joseph
P. Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy's father, to serve
as the first chairman of the SEC.
- The SEC requires public companies to disclose meaningful
financial and other information to the public.
- In addition, the SEC oversees other key participants
in the securities world, including stock exchanges, broker-dealers,
investment advisors, mutual funds and public utility holding
- The SEC is working with the Federal Reserve System,
the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and a private
sector working group to develop options for improving
public disclosure of financial information by banking
and securities organizations, following passage of the
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act.
- The SEC is comprised of five commissioners appointed
by the president, four divisions and 18 offices. Commissioners'
terms last five years and are staggered so that one commissioner's
term ends on June 5 of each year. To ensure that the commission
remains nonpartisan, no more than three commissioners
may belong to the same political party. The president
also designates one commissioner as chairman, the SEC's
- Staff: 2,900 at the Washington, D.C., headquarters and in 11 regional and district offices throughout the country.
Return to Chairman Levitt interview.