U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. August 21, 2013. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. August 21, 2013. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL. ()

Almost four years after the Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law, the Securities and Exchange Commissioner has named Rick Fleming to head the recently created Office of the Investor Advocate (OIA).

Before moving into the new post, Fleming served as deputy general counsel at the North American Securities Administrators Association. In that job, he appeared before Congress and the SEC on behalf of state securities regulators. According to an SEC press release, Fleming spent 15 years working in the Office of the Securities Commissioner in Kansas prior to joining NASAA.

“It is a great honor to be appointed as the first Investor Advocate at the Commission, where I will work alongside the many talented professionals at the SEC who have dedicated their careers to the protection of investors,” Fleming said in the SEC statement. “I look forward to helping ensure that investors are always heard and treated fairly.”

As investor advocate, Fleming will be responsible for helping to resolve “significant problems” between retail investors and the SEC or self-regulatory organizations such as Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or the National Association of Securities Dealers. Specifically, the advocate is to identify problems that investors have with investment products and financial service providers, pinpoint areas where investors could benefit from changes to the regulatory landscape and analyze proposed new rules with their potential impact on investors in mind.

According to David Keenan, James Grohsgal and William Alderman at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, the investor advocate does not appear to have legal authority to make changes, but can propose changes based on problems his office identifies. Within his first six months on the job, Fleming is also expected to appoint an ombudsman to act as a go-between investors and the SEC.