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Suggestions for How Individual Investors Can Comment on SEC Rulemaking: Updated Investor Bulletin

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) generally seeks comment from the public on its rulemakings. The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is issuing this Investor Bulletin to help explain the rulemaking process and to encourage individual investor input in SEC rulemakings.

What is rulemaking?

Rules are requirements created by federal agencies that help clarify or implement laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. Rulemaking is the process that federal agencies use to make rules. Some rulemaking creates new rules, and other rulemaking updates existing rules.

Generally, one phase of the rulemaking process is a comment period that is designed to give the public an opportunity to provide their knowledge, opinions, and arguments on a particular rulemaking. Comments received through this process are considered in the rulemaking.

Your input can help the SEC better understand the issues important to individual investors.

Important: All comments will be made available to the public. Comments sent via online form or e-mail will be posted on the SEC’s website. Comments sent via paper will be converted to PDF and then posted on the SEC’s website. When multiple comments are submitted with identical or near-identical content, only the first copy of the comment received will be posted publicly, along with a running total number of that comment received.

Do not include personal identifiable information in submissions; submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. The SEC may redact in part or withhold entirely from publication submitted material that is obscene or subject to copyright protection.

What are the phases of rulemaking?

Concept Release. Sometimes the SEC seeks public input with a concept release before issuing a proposed rule. A concept release typically outlines the topic of concern, identifies different potential approaches, and raises a series of questions inviting public comment on the matter. The feedback received is taken into consideration as the SEC decides which approach, if any, to propose.

Proposing Release or Rule Proposal. The rulemaking process usually begins with a proposal, which is published for public notice and comment. A proposing release typically contains the text of the proposed new or amended rule, a discussion of the purpose of the proposed rule, and an analysis of the associated economic effects of the rule. The SEC considers the public’s input as it determines its next steps.

Adopting Release or Rule Adoption. After considering public comments on a proposal, the SEC may adopt a final rule. If so, it issues an adopting release containing the text of the final rule and discussing how the SEC arrived at the final rule. The new or amended rule becomes part of the official SEC rules.

How do I write my comment?

Any comment, including a simple statement of whether you support or oppose a proposal or parts of a proposal, has value. However, the more you are able to share about your personal experience and the reasons for your views, the more useful it is for staff and the rulemaking process. Below are some suggestions to help you submit a comment letter:

Understand what you are commenting on.

Before you write your comment, consider taking time to read the rulemaking. For proposals, you can also find a short summary posted by the SEC online. In addition, there may be other materials available that help provide information about the rulemaking, such as a Fact Sheet, Press Release, and/or speech or statement by a Commissioner.

Describe relevant information about yourself.

This could include the fact that you are an individual investor, how many years you have been investing, or any relevant experience you have had as an investor. Consider explaining how the rulemaking would affect you, an individual investor. You may submit your comment anonymously, and you should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly.

Identify what you are discussing, state your opinion, and explain why.

It is helpful to clearly identify the section, issue, or question you are discussing. Indicate your views and explain why. Consider discussing both what you oppose and what you support in the rulemaking. If you can, use specific examples to illustrate your views, such as your experience with an SEC rule or how the proposal would affect you.

Suggest solutions or alternatives.

Consider suggesting solutions or alternatives to the parts of the rulemaking that you oppose or think should be changed.

Provide factual support.

If you have factual information that supports or contradicts the rulemaking, or that supports your suggested solution or alternative, please include it in your comment letter. Examples of factual information include data or scientific evidence.

Please consider commenting on the SEC’s rulemakings. Your contributions can be an important part of the rulemaking process.

How do I submit my comments?

SEC rulemaking releases are published in the Federal Register and on the SEC’s website, SEC.gov, and can be located through the SEC’s Regulatory Actions page. The online form to submit comments is accessed by the “Submit a Comment” button at the top of the page for each listed rulemaking. For some rulemakings, that page may also contain a link to a Feedback Flyer. A Feedback Flyer is a set of questions designed specifically for individual investors.

In addition, the relevant release itself will contain instructions for how to submit comments, including a link to the online comment form, and the deadline for doing so. Detailed instructions on how to submit comments can also be found at How to Submit Comments to the SEC.

Please remember that the SEC does not edit personal identifying information from a submission, so submit only information that you wish to make available publicly.

What happens after I submit a comment?

After you submit a comment, it will be posted at the “View Received Comments” link for the rulemaking on the SEC’s website. The SEC considers comments received in connection with its next steps. 

Additional Information

How to Submit Comments to the SEC

The Laws that Govern the Securities Industry

 
This Investor Bulletin represents the views of the staff of the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy.  It is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”).  The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content.  This Investor Bulletin, like all staff statements, has no legal force or effect: it does not alter or amend applicable law, and it creates no new or additional obligations for any person.

This Investor Bulletin does not alter the comment process under the Administrative Procedure Act for any rulemaking. It is designed to help promote greater individual investor input in Commission rulemaking proceedings.  If you have any questions about a rulemaking, please contact the Commission staff listed in the rulemaking release. 

 

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