The SEC says it has voted to implement the use of electronic document submissions through a series of new rules.
The regulator says it will permit the use of electronic signatures for authentication on “many” documents that previously required each signatory to manually sign a signature page or other document first. The regulator also says it amended certain rules to allow electronic signatures in authentication documents connected to filings that include typed rather than manual signatures.
“These amendments recognize the widespread use of electronic signatures and technological developments in the authentication and security of electronic signatures, as well as the continuing need to support remote workforces, and follow a rulemaking petition joined by nearly 100 public companies,” the SEC says in its announcement of the new rules.
Additionally, the SEC says its administrative proceedings will now require electronic filing and service of documents. Many of these documents will now also have to be redacted of sensitive personal information before filing with the regulator, the SEC says.
These amendments go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, but the compliance deadline is set for Apr. 12, 2021, with a 90-day phase-in period after that, the regulator says.
The industry as well as lawmakers have been pushing for more acceptance of digital document delivery in the financial services industry in recent months.
In September, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bill to remove a requirement that consumers prove they can access documents electronically before receiving them.
The same month, Sifma, the Financial Services Institute, and the Investment Advisers Association, among other industry groups, urged the SEC to help the industry switch to electronic delivery as the primary method of communication between financial firms and investors, as reported.
Fidelity, BlackRock and Schwab were among the firms urging the SEC in September to allow financial services firms to use a customer’s e-mail address or smartphone telephone number as their primary address for delivering account and confirmation statements, mutual fund prospectuses, annual reports and other regulatory documents.
And earlier this month, SEC chairman Jay Clayton echoed calls from the financial services industry to revamp regulations so they favor electronic delivery over paper delivery. Clayton confirmed earlier this week that he’s leaving the commission at the end of the year.
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