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Rating:Big Data Is NEAT, But Will the SEC's Big Guns Share? Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Big Data Is NEAT, But Will the SEC's Big Guns Share?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The big guns at the SEC love big data, but that doesn't they're ready to share with you just yet.

Andrew Ceresney
The Securities and Exchange Commission
Director, Division of Enforcement
Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC's division of enforcement, and Marc Wyatt, director of the regulatory agency's office of compliance inspections and examinations, spoke yesterday morning at the 2016 ICI Mutual Funds and Investment Management conference at the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando. Ceresney and Wyatt shared the stage with Heidi Hardin, general counsel at Harris Associates, and Ghillaine Reid Melbourne, partner at Schoeman Updike & Kaufman.

Ceresney, echoing remarks he made a year ago at the same conference, called big data "very transformative" at the SEC over the last five years. He specifically cited a big data initiative around trading data or publicly-traded companies' financial results that allows his team to look for suspect patterns to dig into for possible fraud or insider trading issues.

Wyatt concurred, saying that he's "very impressed with the amount of information" that's at the fingertips of him and his team. He specifically talked up the SEC's NEAT (National Exam Analytics Tool), which was created with help from "people who are former high-frequency traders, coders, and game developers." He likened NEAT to "Turbo Tax for trade analysis." Neither Ceresney nor Wyatt mentioned any specific big data searches or uses targeted at fundsters or their allies.

Yet when an audience member asked whether or not the SEC would make its big data analytical tools available to chief compliance officers, Wyatt pleaded the fifth.

"That's a question for the commission," Wyatt said, pointing to Mary Jo White and her colleagues, who serve as a presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed board of directors for the unelected civil servants within the SEC. No word yet on what White thinks of sharing such data.

Among a host of other subjects, including the SEC's giant, multiyear "distribution in guise" sweep of the mutual fund industry, Wyatt also addressed an audience question about incentives and evaluations for his own examiners. Wyatt clarified that no, OCIE examiners do receive any financial incentives for referring cases to the enforcement division. The question of measuring examiner efficiency, he said, is based on other factors. 

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