Mr. Chairman, I commend you for holding this timely hearing this morning. I want to start my remarks by congratulating Mr. Atkins and Mr. Goldschmid on their nominations and thank them for their willingness to serve – particularly during this turbulent period.
Mr. Chairman, enough has already been said about the crisis of confidence that has taken hold of our financial markets, bred skepticism about corporate governance practices and created questions about integrity and transparency of corporate financial statements.
As we deal with these issues, I think its important for us all to understand that restoring the lost investor confidence cannot be accomplished solely through the enactment of new laws. Particularly if new and existing laws are not enforced. The responsibility of overseeing our markets and enforcing our securities laws lies squarely at the feet of the SEC.
The first paragraph of the SEC’s mission outlines the fundamental purpose of the agency. It states:
"The primary mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is to protect investors and maintain the integrity of the securities markets. As more and more first-time investors turn to the markets to help secure their futures, pay for homes, and send children to college, these goals are more compelling than ever.
That statement has taken has become even more poignant in these times. Many first-time investors have returned to stashing their money away under their mattresses, thousands of workers have witnessed their 401(k)s savings – and their dreams of retirement – evaporate seemingly overnight, and millions of parents now wonder whether it is wise to "gamble" on their child’s college education by investing in our markets.
Mr. Chairman, now more than ever, the public will be closely scrutinizing the integrity of those who not only our public companies, but those who lead the agencies charged with their oversight. And while many have been critical of the SEC’s leadership in taken on the myriad of challenges facing our markets, I think it’s fair to say that the agency has been operating behind the eight-ball due to insufficient financial and personnel resources, and also because it’s been operating without full membership of its Board.
Mr. Chairman, this hearing will allow us to learn more about the character of these nominees, who both come before the committee with strong credentials. I look forward to Mr. Atkins’ and Mr. Goldschmids’ testimony, and to their response from questions of this committee’s members. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.