Dear Mr. Gensler:
Unlike many of my colleagues in the digital assets industry, I sympathize with you.
I feel that yours is one of the most difficult jobs in government, since one prong of your mission at the SEC is to “protect investors.”
The irony, of course, is that investors must be protected from themselves.
I see the SEC pursuing investor protection in two primary ways:* reactively (though lawsuits and litigation), and proactively (though education and advancement).
While the SEC’s numerous lawsuits have made the headlines under your leadership (reactive), I suggest your agency invest even more into education (proactive).
Under your leadership, the SEC could focus less on litigating and more on educating.
Here I want to compliment you on a few educational initiatives I’ve seen under your leadership.
First is your series of Office Hours with Gary Gensler, which have received over 250,000 views on YouTube:
The second is your viral video campaign Investomania, which has nearly a million views to date:
Although these videos have received plenty of online mockery, the truth is that everyone who made fun of them, actually watched them.
Which is the whole point.
It’s easy for students to make fun of the teacher, but who cares? As long as they’re learning something, mission accomplished.
I think these early educational investments have shown tangible results, and I encourage you to 10x, or maybe 100x, your investment into these. Partner with influencers. Hire some TikTok stars. Get Sal Khan on this.
Prioritize education over litigation.
The SEC can do way more than viral videos.
When I attended a talk by your predecessor Jay Clayton, I was impressed with the educational display set up by his staff, which promoted the SEC’s educational efforts at investor.gov.
This, I thought, is a government agency I want to support.
If education is the best way to combat ignorance, then you have tremendous power to fight that ignorance.
You have the influence to get investing classes placed into schools, teaching high school and college-aged students the principles of sound investing. They can learn how to spot illegal or unethical investments. They can make better decisions, at scale.
By implementing a rigorous program of investing education in public schools, you would lift future generations out of ignorance.
You might even be able to cut down on gambling.
The litigation route is exhausting. While I understand it is sometimes necessary, it feels like a blunt-force tool that is yielding decreasing returns, as evidenced by losses against Coinbase, Binance, and Ripple.
In the crypto industry, where I work, I imagine that you receive unthinkable pressure from those who hold the levers of power to stop crypto in its tracks, or at least slow its inexorable march.
Your reluctant approval of the spot Bitcoin ETF is another sign that these forces of change are too strong to overcome. In your remaining time at the SEC, I suggest it is time to rethink your priorities.
Education, not litigation.
To greatly oversimplify the SEC’s work,* if your resources are currently spent 95% on litigation and 5% on education, imagine if we shifted this to 50/50.
Fifty percent of the SEC’s efforts could be spent on educating investors. In classrooms, where it is more difficult for them to tweet snarky comments.
This could be your enduring legacy to future generations.
To protect investors, education is our best solution. I am sure you can get behind this plan, because, of course, you were a college professor.
I imagine that you have this passion for education deep in your soul – why does one go into education unless they care about it? – and I hope that you will bring that passion out and let it shine.
This will be counterintuitive to your critics, but this could make you exactly the right SEC commissioner for our time. An educator, who truly pushed forward on investor education – not as a sideshow, but as a primary initiative.
Please, Mr. Gensler, shift your focus from litigation to education. You have the power, and now is the time.
Health, wealth, and happiness,
Publisher, Bitcoin Market Journal
* Forgive my oversimplification of the SEC’s mission and efforts, which are threefold: to protect investors; to maintain fair, efficient, and orderly markets; and to facilitate capital formation. Education, however, will help with all three.