SEC Chief Names Long-Time Wall Street Critic Roper a Top Adviser

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler named long-time Wall Street critic Barbara Roper a senior adviser, signaling that the agency will aggressively crack down on broker conflicts and seek to strengthen investor protection rules. 

Roper has spent more than three decades at the Consumer Federation of America, where her frequent critiques have made her a thorn in the side of everyone from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Robinhood Markets Inc. In a Wednesday statement, Gensler said areas she will focus on include policy, examinations of financial firms and oversight of brokers and money managers. 

“Barb is a champion for investors and will provide invaluable counsel on behalf of the American public,” Gensler said.

Roper has urged the SEC to impose stricter standards on securities firms when dealing with retail investors and has said the regulator should write new rules to deal with what’s known as gamification -- the prompts and nudges that some brokerages use to encourage more trading. 

Gamification is closely associated with Robinhood, which has faced a deluge of criticism from U.S. lawmakers amid this year’s meme stock frenzy. Roper has called the firm out on Twitter over a number of issues including the fact that it makes most of its revenue by selling customers’ stock orders to market makers, outages on its trading platform and marketing options to unsophisticated investors. 

Roper’s appointment could increase the chances that the SEC will revisit broker conduct regulations approved during the Trump administration. She’s repeatedly said that the rules fell short of what’s needed to protect mom-and-pop investors from industry abuses. 

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