The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is facing a growing challenge in filling vacant Crypto Assets Specialist positions within its ranks. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the SEC recently published its “2023 SEC OIG Management and Performance Challenges” report, shedding light on the persistent issue of staff shortages in the SEC’s digital currency division.
With the regulatory body seeking to strengthen its oversight capabilities in the rapidly expanding world of crypto-assets, the shortage of qualified professionals has become a critical concern.
As of Sept. 30, 2023, the SEC reported that out of the 5,303 authorized positions in its office, a staggering 491 remained unfilled. This trend of increasing vacancy rates has persisted for the past four years, raising concerns about the SEC’s ability to effectively regulate the bitcoin market.
The shortage of staff has been particularly glaring in the CAS positions, where in-depth knowledge of the digital asset space is crucial.
Ethical Dilemma Hinders Crypto Police Recruitment
One significant obstacle the SEC faces in filling these positions is the ethical rule that prevents staff from holding investments in areas they regulate. Many qualified professionals in the specified division are reluctant to sell their personal digital assets, creating a barrier to entry for potential candidates.
SEC is having trouble hiring crypto experts — because of a rule they must sell all their crypto
— Jeff Roberts (@jeffjohnroberts) November 6, 2023
This ethical dilemma not only narrows the pool of eligible candidates but also poses a challenge in retaining specialists within the SEC.
The report also highlighted the existing legal framework, which leaves gaps in the oversight of crypto assets that are not considered securities and certain stablecoins. The absence of comprehensive legislation and interagency coordination has further complicated the SEC’s regulatory efforts in the crypto space.
The report stated, “Caselaw concerning the application of the securities laws to crypto assets is limited and still developing,” underscoring the evolving nature of the regulatory landscape.
Legal Framework And Competition With The Private Sector
Moreover, the SEC faces stiff competition from the private sector when it comes to recruiting specialists. Candidates with expertise in the specific industry often find themselves in high demand, with lucrative opportunities in private firms.
The SEC struggles to compete with these private sector entities, both in terms of compensation and the unwillingness of candidates to divest their bitcoin assets to work for the regulatory body.
The SEC’s efforts to regulate the crypto-asset markets are hampered by a shortage of qualified professionals and an ethical conundrum that deters potential candidates.
The agency must address these challenges to effectively oversee the rapidly growing and evolving crypto industry, while also advocating for more comprehensive legislation and interagency coordination in this dynamic regulatory landscape.
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