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Andrew J. Bowden, director of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations,
speaks to Catholic University's Securities Law Alumni Luncheon on Nov. 13th. 

 

Senior SEC Official Addresses 2014 Securities Alumni Luncheon

 

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For nearly seventy graduates of Catholic University’s Securities Law Program, the opportunity to learn something new about their dynamic area of practice presented itself again this year at the annual Securities Law Alumni Luncheon, held on Nov. 13 at its traditional location at the Army Navy Club in downtown Washington, D.C.
 
The occasion is always an opportunity for the program’s extended alumni network in the D.C. area to get together and reconnect, but it is also presents a platform for leading figures in the securities practice area to share insights and answer questions about what they do and about where securities law is headed.
 
This year’s luncheon speaker was Andrew J. Bowden, director of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, whose topic was “New Technology at the SEC – How OCIE Promotes Compliance, Prevents Fraud, Informs Policy, and Identifies Risk through Data Analysis.”
 
Introduced by Professor David Lipton, Director of the Securities Law Program, Bowden spent 30 minutes describing his office's mission and how it utilizes new technological tools to achieve its aims.
 
OCIE is the “eyes and ears” of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bowden explained. It is charged with ensuring that private sector investment companies that manage $55-trillion in aggregate wealth do so in full compliance with the law.
 
New and highly sophisticated ways of analyzing data are the key, said Bowden. One such example is called Machine Analyzed Risk Scoring, designed to call attention to red flags within an investment company’s records that may indicate potential malfeasance.
 
Yet no tool, no matter how state of the art, is foolproof. “Some of the things we assume are predictive aren’t. We may not see all of the predictive behaviors of the registrant,” Bowden said.
 
Which is why the SEC has not abandoned a boots on the ground approach to its regulatory functions. These days, when its investigators pore over a company’s records on site, they are accompanied by highly-trained technicians who run powerful computer programs which can analyze up to three years of complex data quickly, allowing for more effective use of the SEC’s time and resources.
 
“How often is the SEC ahead of the industry? Not usually, but this approach is transforming the industry and will for years to come,” said Bowden, who joined the SEC just three years ago after a long career in the private sector.
 
In his own remarks, Professor Lipton offered an update on the law school’s long-running Securities Law Program. He noted the hiring of two new adjunct lecturers and said that 80-percent of the Certificate class of 2014 is employed.  
 
Finally, Lipton praised the Securities Alumni group for its loyalty and attendance year after year. “None of this happens without you,” he said.