Information technology is the technology used to store, manipulate, distribute or create information.
Executive Summary Section a of the National Securities Markets Improvement Act of directed the Commission to study and report to Congress on the impact of technological advances on the securities markets.
Pursuant to that provision, this report discusses the impact of recent technological advances on the securities markets, how these advances have changed the way the markets operate, and steps the Commission has taken to address these changes.
The use of new technologies at this time varies considerably in nature and scope among different segments of the industry, and the report separately addresses the current trends in technology use by public companies, the mutual fund industry, investment advisers, and the secondary markets.
Finally, the report discusses the effect of recent technological advances on enforcement of the federal securities laws.
The Commission is mindful of the benefits of increasing use of new technologies for investors and the markets, and has encouraged experimentation and innovation by adopting flexible interpretations of the federal securities laws.
The Commission's approach has balanced the goals of promoting the benefits of electronic media, with the need to protect investors and the integrity of the markets from fraud and abuse. As technological advances proceed, continued coordination with market participants and federal, state and international regulators will be essential.
Public Companies Many investors now have improved access to information about securities, partly through use of the Internet. The ready access to this database made possible by the Internet, both through the Commission's own web site and others, forms the core of a new body of corporate information now available on-line.
Many public companies now publicize business and financial information on the Internet, but few as yet use the Internet or other electronic media to meet delivery and disclosure requirements under the federal securities laws.
Developing communication technologies hold the promise of making the capital markets more efficient by providing all participants with faster, more effective means of exchanging information. The Commission has provided guidance to facilitate the use of electronic media for companies to satisfy their disclosure obligations: The Commission's October and May interpretive releases provided guidance for market participants on using electronic media to satisfy delivery obligations of disclosure documents.
The Commission staff has provided interpretive guidance regarding applications of technology to market practices. The Commission staff also addresses electronic issues on a case by case basis as they are raised by market participants.
The Commission also has begun an initiative to reexamine basic federal securities law principles partly in response to technological advances. In July the Commission published a concept release on Securities Act registration and disclosure reform which sought comment from the public about broad reform of the capital formation regulatory framework.
The Commission's regulatory authority, including the exemptive authority in the National Securities Markets Improvement Act ofwill allow the Commission to adapt the federal securities law framework to keep abreast of -- and realize the potential benefits of -- new technological developments.
Investment Companies Investment companies are now electronically providing a substantial amount of information and services to a large number of investors, particularly via the Internet. Investors, in turn, are taking advantage of the enormous amount of information that is available electronically from investment companies, and are making additional demands for increased electronic information flow.
The Commission has facilitated the investment company industry's use of many technological innovations that serve investors more efficiently, consistent with investor protection.
Investment Advisers New computer technologies, and increasing access to the Internet, have the potential to affect investment advisory services substantially in the next century.
Many investment advisers are taking advantage of the extensive information that is available electronically to research potential investments for their clients.
As investors have become more comfortable with using their personal computers, some advisers have begun to provide advisory services on-line, creating a new medium for their services. The Commission has provided guidance regarding a variety of legal issues created by the use of new technologies by investment advisers, and the Commission will continue to facilitate the future use of such technologies, consistent with investor protection.
Secondary Markets As computing power has become exponentially more powerful and comparatively inexpensive, technology has transformed trading in secondary markets. The Exchanges and Nasdaq have adopted electronic systems for order delivery and automatic execution and have automated other functions such as the dissemination of transaction and quotation information, specialists' limit order books and the comparison of trades prior to settlement.
Broker-dealers and institutional investors use powerful computer systems and sophisticated applications, among other things, to manage inventory, order flow and risk and to receive market data, research reports and company information electronically.
For most markets and market professionals, the Internet and Internet technology should enhance communications networks already in place. For individual investors, the Internet can provide information flow and communication links similar to those currently available to institutional investors and market professionals.The Impact of Information and Communication Technology on Banks‟ Performance and as the technologies were becoming ubiquitous.
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