Styles of regulators: Evidence from the SEC’s comment letters

Abstract

Security regulations are enforced by SEC staff members. Conceptually, the regulations are to be uniformly enforced despite personal differences among SEC enforcers. We offer evidence to the contrary. Using the SEC’s comment letters as our setting, we find that SEC staff members exhibit unique personal “styles.” The effects of their personal styles on firms’ remediation costs, the contents of SEC comment letters, and the quality of firms’ financial reporting are surprisingly large. We manually collect information on SEC staff members. Our results demonstrate that female staff members are generally tougher reviewers and that CPA qualification matters. Overall, our study offers evidence that SEC staff members exhibit individual differences, and their styles shape firms’ financial reporting.

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February 19, 2020

Dear all students, staff and members of the CKGSB community,

As the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 is still ongoing, I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. The safety of our staff and students are our top priority at this point, which is why all staff members will work remotely for the time being. In addition, we will offer online learning to our students, in order to continue our curriculum offering, and provide a series of webinars for the wider community on relevant topics.

Fundamental to the core of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business’ (CKGSB) vision is to cultivate transformative business leaders with a strong sense of social responsibility. To this extent, I’m extremely proud to see the CKGSB community coming together in recent weeks to provide support through donations big and small. Meanwhile, our professors are examining the economic and social impact of the virus and will continue to release data and analysis in the coming weeks.

We will continue to support relief efforts and work together with government agencies, private corporations and international organizations in a meaningful way. Our thoughts and wishes are with all of the people affected by the COVID-19.

Sincerely,

XIANG Bing
Founding Dean
Professor of China Business and Globalization
Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business