SEC Chairman says regulator is understaffed

Gary Gensler,Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), testifies during the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on "Oversight of the US Securities and Exchange Commission" on September 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Gary Gensler,Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), testifies during the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on “Oversight of the US Securities and Exchange Commission” on September 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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UPDATED 3:12 PM PT – Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The largest Wall Street regulator has been struggling with a staffing shortage. In an interview on Wednesday, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said his agency was “trying to juggle an unprecedented list of financial challenges with a small staff.”

Gensler went on to say the number of staffers at the regulator has fallen by as much as 5 percent in the past fiver year. At the same time, new challenges have arisen including cryptocurrencies, the surge of retail investors amid the pandemic as well as a boom of new companies going public through IPOs and SPAC mergers.

“Technology has come along and changed the nature of finance, so when the internet came along it changed the nature of finance as well,” he explained. “These are the challenges we have. It makes it an exciting job.”

During testimony in the Senate on Tuesday, Gensler said the SEC needed “a lot more people” to handle the new challenges. He added the regulator was tackling some 6,000 new digital assets, with staff spread thin as they worked to determine which of those were subject to SEC oversight.

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