The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is an independent federal agency established under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The agency is headed by a 5-member Commission tasked with protecting investors and the markets.
Among other duties, the SEC:
- Regulates equity and fixed-income markets
- Protects investors from fraud and market manipulation
- Registers investable securities and financial services firms
- Oversees regulatory bodies like FINRA and the SIPC
The SEC may handle violators using civil action or by partnering with the Department of Justice on criminal matters.