World Class Faculty & Research / May 14, 2021

SEC Chair Kicks Off Annual Conference on Financial Regulation

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler is looking to the future – one oriented around the intersection of finance and technology, climate change and human capital.

Gensler's remarks opened the eighth annual Conference on Financial Market Regulation, which offers a forum for leaders from academia, government, the financial sector, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to discuss regulatory policies and relevant industry topics.

The two-day event, held virtually this year, is co-sponsored by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Center for Financial Policy at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, Lehigh University's Center for Financial Services, and the CFA Institute.

Topics included financial intermediation, SEC research, asset management, climate change, corporate finance and market microstructure.

"Investors are increasingly wanting to understand information about climate risk, especially because it affects one of the most critical components of companies – the workforce," Gensler said.

He said he was particularly interested in research being presented at the conference exploring how markets have adjusted to climate disclosure regimes

"I anticipate the climate-related and human capital disclosures will be the initial steps of our broader efforts to update our disclosure regime for modern markets," said Gensler. "What prior SECs have done in the past with disclosure underpins much of what we do in promoting our three-part mission – protecting investors, facilitating capital formation and promoting competition."

The stakes for improving transparency are rising. Bloomberg Intelligence has projected global environmental, social and government (ESG) investment will rise to more than $53 trillion by 2025, from $17.1 trillion in 2020, comprising more than one-third of projected total assets under management.

"Chair Gensler expressed interest in the Climate Change session of the conference, as he is interested in how markets have adjusted to new climate regimes. In addition, he expressed interest in updating disclosure rules with respect to climate-impacting activities by corporations," says Russell Wermers, Dean's Chair in Finance & Director, Center for Financial Policy.

The topic will be further discussed as part of a virtual panel presented by the CFP and Maryland Smith's Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC): "What it Means to Be Green," at 11 a.m. Monday, May 17, 2021.

Gensler thanked all of the conference's participants and recognized how the work promoted at this event helps set the stage for policy advancements and shapes the financial industry for years to come.

"Conferences like this are so relevant to the work we do in government," said Gensler. "To hear, learn and understand the research, as well as to debate the generation of ideas along the way, is of benefit to the SEC, American public and financial industry."

The conference, which continued Friday, May 14, 2021, also featured remarks from Jessica Wachter, chief economist and director of the SEC's Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA), and presentations from a range of thought leaders from across academia, government, the financial sector, for an exchange of views on the Commission's most pressing topics.

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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