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Researching the SEC  

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What is the SEC?

The Securities and Exchange Commission, most often called the SEC, is a United States federal agency. Created in 1934, the SEC is charged with monitoring the securities industry by protecting investors, maintaing the markets and helping capital formation.

When approaching SEC research, it is important to understand how the SEC is organized (see below) and what laws govern the SEC. If you are approaching SEC research without expert knowledge, the best approach is to find a good secondary source. See the secondary source tab for recommendations. To quickly locate a specific source, see the Quick Find area of the primary sources tab.


What is a Security?

When a company finances itself, through start-up or expansion, through ownership or creditorship of outside parties, securities are created. Securities are the written evidence of the ownership or creditorship.


SEC Organization

The SEC has five Commissioners appointed by the President. One of these is the Chair (designated by the President.) No more than three Commissioners may belong to the same political party.

There are also five divisions of the agency: Corporate Finance, Trading and Markets, Economic and Risk Analysis, Investment Management, and Enforcement.

To see a list of past Commissioners, visit

The first Commission Chair was Joseph P. Kennedy (father of future president John F. Kennedy) appointed by President Roosevelt.

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