The Region

About the Securities and Exchange Commission

Published September 1, 2000  | September 2000 issue

  • 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 companies.

  • 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 top executive.

  • Staff: 2,900 at the Washington, D.C., headquarters and in 11 regional and district offices throughout the country.

Find more information on the SEC at To search the EDGAR database of disclosure documents public companies are required to file with the SEC, go to:

Return to Chairman Levitt interview.