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Tracey L. McNeil Named First SEC Ombudsman

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Tracey L. McNeil has been selected as the first ombudsman for the agency. Seal of SEC Ms. McNeil will begin her new post on September 22.  She currently is a senior counsel in the SEC’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI), an office created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.  In this position, she has advised the director of OMWI in establishing the office and has worked to ensure the fair inclusion and utilization of minorities, women, and minority-owned and women-owned businesses in all business and activities of the agency.  

Prior to joining OMWI in 2011, Ms. McNeil spent three years in the Division of Corporation Finance, where she worked to ensure that investors were given adequate disclosure as required by law.

McNeil Housed in Office of the Investor Advocate

In her new role, Ms. McNeil will report to Rick Fleming, the first head of the SEC’s Office of the Investor Advocate.  The Dodd-Frank Act called for the creation of the office and requires the Investor Advocate to appoint an ombudsman who will act as a liaison in resolving problems that retail investors may have with the Commission or self-regulatory organizations.  The ombudsman also will establish safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of communications with investors. According to Mr. Fleming: 

Investors will soon discover that Tracey McNeil is a person who cares deeply about their concerns.  In addition, her strong securities law background, solid legal and analytical skills, sound judgment, and well-established relationships with other offices and stakeholders will serve us well as we move forward in fulfilling our statutory mandate.

Before joining the SEC staff, Ms. McNeil was an associate on the structured finance team at Hunton & Williams LLP, and counsel in the U.S. businesses group at MetLife.  She began her legal career as a capital markets associate in the New York office of Shearman & Sterling.

Ms. McNeil has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Columbia University.  She received her J.D. degree from Fordham University School of Law, where she was a Notes and Articles Editor of the Fordham Urban Law Journal and a recipient of the Dean’s Award. McNeil starts September 22. The best way to reach her will be to call (202) 551-3201, an SEC spokesman said.

Ombudsman

Section 919D of the Dodd-Frank Act requires the Investor Advocate to appoint an Ombudsman who will act as a liaison in resolving problems that retail investors may have with the Commission or an SRO. The Ombudsman will review and establish policies and procedures to encourage persons to present questions to the Investor Advocate regarding compliance with the securities laws, and will establish safeguards to maintain the confidentiality of such communications. 

Congressional Reports

The Investor Advocate must report to Congress by June 30 of each year on the objectives of the Office for the following fiscal year. The Investor Advocate must also report to Congress by December 31 of each year on the activities of the Investor Advocate in the preceding fiscal year, the most serious problems encountered by investors during the reporting period and the actions taken by the Commission and SROs to resolve the problems, and any recommendations for administrative and legislative action. The Ombudsman must submit a semi-annual report to the Investor Advocate for inclusion in the reports to Congress. The reports from the Investor Advocate must be submitted to Congress without any prior review or comment from any officer or employee of the Commission outside of the Office of the Investor Advocate.

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