On Wednesday, January 4, President-Elect Donald Trump announced his pick for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): Jay Clayton, a Wall Street lawyer and partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. As widely expected, Clayton is a strongly pro-business choice for the regulatory chair, and is a dramatic departure from Mary Jo White, and his strong stance against regulation will embolden many investors but cause others to worry about a potential repeat of the worldwide financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. As of March 8, Clayton already faces concerns over conflicts of interest developed over a career of servicing finance sector interests.
A veteran corporate attorney, Jay Clayton works on “public and private mergers & acquisitions, capital markets offerings, and regulatory proceedings” for his partners at Sullivan & Cromwell, and was expected to be Trump’s nominee for the SEC position since shortly after the charismatic, controversial businessman and reality television host upset Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. Like many of Trump’s cabinet picks, Clayton is something of a “Wall Street insider,” a strongly pro-business appointment from the world of big finance associated with mainstream Republicans. Whether or not this counts as “draining the swamp” by eliminating collusion between government and business, Clayton is definitely a candidate who will try and smooth financial transactions moving forward.
As such, he has produced a mixed reaction among investors. Hardline anti-regulation investors – especially in Clayton’s own finance sector – believe deregulation is the key to vastly expanded profits, creating a boom period to contrast the slow-paced but solid recovery under Obama and a trickle-down effect to benefit the middle class. More progressive or cautious investors worry a rollback of reforms by Congress or regulatory bodies like the SEC could lead to another round of reckless investments, leading to another major financial crisis.
Clayton’s nomination may have hit a speedbump in March 8 when his financial disclosure report revealed a history of clients and relationships that may pose serious conflicts of interest with an SEC leadership position. Clayton’s former clients and contacts include financial leaders such as Deutsche Bank, Barclays, UBS, and Goldman Sachs, a firm whose executives President Trump has also nominated for cabinet positions after excoriating on the campaign trail. Clayton has promised to recuse himself from cases involving some of these major players, but a Republican majority in the Senate means his confirmation remains a fairly safe bet.
SEC leadership may change with administrations, but SEC rules and regulations are being altered, added, and ammended constantly. To keep up, companies are heavily advised to use financial printing services who employ experts in SEC filings, XBRL, EDGAR, and more. Whether for a simple do-it-yourself XBRL or a complex filing for mergers & acquisitions or IPOs, printing services and can help make sure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted, no matter who’s in the White House or chairing the SEC.
As a new chairman takes over the Securities and Exchange Commission, how will the agency's priorities change? Download our whitepaper today to hear from three leading corporate governance experts on the matter!