SEC Chief of Staff Sean Memon Announces Plans to Conclude Tenure
Washington D.C., Dec. 23, 2020 —
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Sean Memon will conclude his tenure as the agency’s Chief of Staff in January 2021.
Mr. Memon joined the SEC as Deputy Chief of Staff in May 2017 and was named Chief of Staff in June 2019. As Chief of Staff, Mr. Memon served as principal advisor to Chairman Clayton on legal, policy and management matters affecting each aspect of the agency’s mission, including rulemaking, enforcement, examinations and internal agency operations. Often representing the SEC in interagency policy initiatives, Mr. Memon worked closely with cross-divisional teams within the SEC and with other federal agencies and international bodies, including the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the CFTC, the FDIC, and the OCC as well as the Financial Stability Oversight Council and Financial Stability Board. Mr. Memon played a key role in the SEC’s efforts to ensure continued orderly market operations in response to the COVID-19-related economic stresses in 2020.
“Applying his remarkably broad and deep knowledge of the global financial system and our domestic regulatory framework, Sean has been an indispensable asset to me and the Commission,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. “Sean deftly handles the most important and complex issues facing the Commission, identifying effective, consensus-based solutions using his unique combination of technical expertise, commitment to mission and inclusive approach to leadership. It has been my great pleasure to serve alongside Sean and witness firsthand the many lasting contributions he has made to our markets and our investors.”
“It has been the honor of my professional career to manage the affairs of the Commission under Chairman Clayton,” said Mr. Memon. “This agency is a special place, principally because of the unwavering, collective commitment of its 4,500 talented women and men to our markets and investors. I will always be grateful to Chairman Clayton and his fellow Commissioners for this opportunity, as well as to the SEC’s expert staff in our home office and eleven regional offices for their encouragement and dedication to our mission. I am proud to have been their colleague.”
Modernizing the Securities Regulatory Framework
During Mr. Memon’s time working with Chairman Clayton, the SEC advanced more than 70 final rules across its policy divisions and offices, representing a historically productive rulemaking period for the agency. These rules and other initiatives, many of which modernized rule sets that had not been substantively updated in decades, included:
- Improvements to the securities offering process, particularly for smaller companies, including through extending JOBS Act provisions to more issuers, simplifying and harmonizing the exempt offering framework, and modernizing requirements for investor participation in private offerings;
- Improvements to public company disclosure requirements, including by tailoring requirements for smaller issuers, updating MD&A disclosure requirements, and modernizing requirements for description of business, legal proceedings and risk factor disclosures (including by adding specific human capital disclosure requirements);
- Enhancements to the efficiency and integrity of the shareholder engagement process;
- Improvements to the asset management regulatory framework, including with respect to the regulation of ETFs, the use of derivatives by registered investment companies and BDCs, fund valuation practices, fund-of-funds arrangements, investment adviser marketing practices and investment fund disclosure requirements;
- Enhancements and clarifications of the standards of conduct required of financial professionals when dealing with retail customers, through Regulation Best Interest and related fiduciary interpretations;
- The standing up of the comprehensive security-based swaps regulatory framework mandated by Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act;
- Modernizations to market structure, and enhancements to market transparency and resiliency;
- Additional protections for retail investors against microcap fraud, including through enhancing the requirements for quotations for over-the-counter securities and a staff bulletin highlighting for broker-dealers risks arising from illicit activities associated with omnibus accounts; and
- Updates to the SEC’s whistleblower program, including improvements designed to get more money into the hands of whistleblowers, faster.
Promoting Market Integrity Through Effective Enforcement and Examinations
During Mr. Memon’s tenure, the SEC’s enforcement and examination programs, including its whistleblower program, set a number of annual records.
- The Division of Enforcement brought over 2,800 enforcement actions, obtained more than $15 billion in financial remedies, distributed approximately $3.5 billion to harmed investors, and paid more than $580 million in awards to whistleblowers. It brought impactful cases against large financial institutions, public companies, auditors, investment professionals and others for financial fraud, insider trading, sales of unsuitable products, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Ponzi schemes and other offering frauds, and other actions that negatively impacted the integrity of our markets.
- The Division of Examinations significantly increased its coverage rate of investment adviser exams, with the total number of exams in 2019 up more than 25% from 2016. It issued a number of risk alerts in areas ranging from cybersecurity to best execution, and its expertise routinely informed policy and enforcement actions.
Enhancing Agency Operations and Advancing Diversity, Inclusion and Opportunity
During Mr. Memon’s tenure, the SEC implemented a number of organizational enhancements and advanced initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion and opportunity. For example, the agency:
- Launched investor-focused initiatives, including the Teachers’ Initiative, Military Service Members’ Initiative, Retail Strategy Task Force and Cyber Unit;
- Created the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology;
- Named its first Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation;
- Established the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee, Asset Management Advisory Committee, and Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee;
- Renamed OCIE, which since its inception has grown to represent the second largest division or office at the SEC, as the Division of Examinations;
- Established a Cybersecurity and Data Protection office;
- Established the Chief Data Officer and Chief Risk Officer positions;
- Formed the Security-Based Swaps Joint Venture to coordinate regulation and oversight functions related to security-based swaps;
- Established the Senior Policy Advisor for Diversity and Inclusion position, and developed the agency’s first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan;
- Established the SEC’s first-ever agency-wide mentoring program; and
- Launched a number of initiatives within the agency to promote equity and opportunity in leadership development and hiring practices.
More detail on the scope of the Commission’s work is available here.
Prior to joining the SEC, Mr. Memon practiced law at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where he advised clients in regulatory and transactional matters, including with respect to capital raisings, mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures. Mr. Memon also advised companies on matters involving financial technology and the development of new products and services.
Previously, Mr. Memon was a member of the Finance and Acquisitions department at Time Warner Inc., where he worked on long-term business planning efforts and performed quantitative valuation and financial impact analysis for potential new business initiatives and transactions. Prior to Time Warner, Mr. Memon was an analyst in the technology investment banking groups of Raymond James & Associates and Morgan Stanley & Co., where he worked with companies on capital raising activities and mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Memon received his J.D. and MBA degrees from Duke University and an A.B. in economics from Harvard College.