SEC Trading And Markets Director Redfearn To Leave Post

By Rachel O'Brien
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Law360 (December 15, 2020, 9:26 PM EST) -- The director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Trading and Markets, Brett Redfearn, will leave by the end of December after serving in the position for three years, the agency said Tuesday.  

Redfearn, who led the division's 255 professional staff, including 168 attorneys, since October 2017, worked on initiatives to ensure the efficient and fair functioning of trading markets and the protection of Main Street investors, the SEC said.

Deputy director of the division, Christian Sabella, will become acting director when Redfearn leaves, the SEC said.

It is unclear where Redfearn is headed next. He did not respond to an interview request submitted through an SEC spokesperson Tuesday.

In March and April, when markets faced unprecedented volatility and liquidity stresses amid the coronavirus outbreak, Redfearn coordinated public and private sector efforts to maintain fair, orderly and efficient markets, the SEC said.

"Brett's extensive, practical knowledge of markets, market operations, and industry participants has enhanced greatly the SEC's efforts to promote market integrity and improve market structure for the benefit of investors," SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement. "It is rare that one person can materially lift the expertise and effectiveness of a large, well-functioning group. Brett is that rare person."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Redfearn directed division staff to quickly implement regulatory assistance and relief to keep securities markets functioning, the SEC said. 

He worked closely with exchanges, clearing agencies, transfer agents, broker-dealers and the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency, among others, to expedite novel measures, including shifting to fully remote work environments, while ensuring important investor and market protections, according to the agency.

He also reviewed and approved dozens of temporary rule changes to close physical trading floors and transition to all-electronic trading, while giving temporary relief from certain filing deadlines and listing standards.

"It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to lead this division during a period that included incredibly challenging times for markets, investors and the economy," Redfearn said in a statement. "I am immensely grateful to the division staff for their thoughtfulness, hard work and dedication, and to Chairman Clayton for his leadership, support and unwavering commitment to support the division's efforts to tackle a wide array of complex issues."

Redfearn worked to modernize the National Market System, with the division's work leading to the SEC adopting a set of rules to significantly expand the content of NMS market data, improving the timeliness for investors receiving data, the SEC said.

Nick Losurdo, a partner at Goodwin Procter LLP advising broker-dealers and exchanges and former counsel to SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman, worked with Redfearn.

He told Law360 the biggest issue Redfearn tackled was getting a rule passed regarding market data sold by exchanges to market participants.

"He wanted to fix some of the problems with market data and democratize that data and make it more accessible and put people on equal footing in terms of how and when they're able to access that data," Losurdo said. "I took it as sort of Brett's swan song. He was effusively praised by the commissioners not only for that rulemaking but on his entire tenure."

Losurdo believes, however, that Redfearn's legacy may continue because there's still time before the end of the year to consider a proposed exemption for finders from broker-dealer registration requirements.

"I think it's a safe bet to say that it'll be a long time before we see another Brett Redfearn," Losurdo said. "Brett is an incredibly smart guy, and he has this sort of uncanny ability to rally people around him — and he's done a really great job of harnessing those traits."

--Editing by Andrew Cohen.

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