SEC Announces New Investor Advocate

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has selected Cristina Martin Firvida as its new Director of the Office of the Investor Advocate. Martin Firvida will take over the office effective Jan. 17, 2023. Martin Firvida was most recently the Vice President of Financial Security and Livable Communities for Government Affairs at AARP.

Prior to joining AARP, Martin Firvida was Director of Government Relations and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, a research and advocacy organization for women’s equality and economic independence. She also worked at the Children’s Defense Fund as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. Martin Firvida earned a J.D. from Cornell Law School and a B.A. from Yale University.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler commented on the appointment:

“Cristina Martin Firvida brings deep experience to the role of Investor Advocate, and I am pleased she is joining the SEC. I look forward to working with her. I’d also like to thank Marc Sharma for helping advance the Office of the Investor Advocate’s important work over the last six months.”

Martin Firvida said she is proud to join the SEC:

“Investor protection is core to the SEC’s mission, and Congress reaffirmed that commitment by ensuring that the agency has an office exclusively dedicated to representing the needs of investors. I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues to serve investors in America’s capital markets.”

As the Investor Advocate, Martin Firvida aims to assist retail investors in interactions with the Commission and with self-regulatory organizations (SROs). At the same time, the Advocate is tasked with analyzing the impact on investors of proposed rules and regulations, identifying problems that investors have with financial service providers and investment products, and proposing legislative or regulatory changes to promote the interests of investors.

While the Investor Advocate seeks to promote the desires of smaller investors, in the past, it has sought to pursue policies solely adhering to investor protection policies.  Today, issues such as investment opportunities, such as improved access to Reg D offerings or updating the definition of an accredited investor to take sophistication into account, remain a priority for smaller investors. It is unknown if Martin Firvida will advocate for retail investors beyond the monolithic approach of saving investors from themselves.

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