SEC Commissioner Addresses Put Options Tied to Failed Banks

Nick Allen Commentary by Nick Allen

SEC Commissioner Caroline A. Crenshaw responded to reports that retail investors may be unable to exercise put options purchased on Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank stock.

In a public statement, Ms. Crenshaw said that she hopes broker-dealers and clearing agencies will help retail investors exercise options, including through possible cash settlements. She cited two articles that explain how it is up to individual broker-dealers to determine if, how, and when affected options can be exercised (following the Options Clearing Corporation's announcement that affected options were being removed from automatic settlement and could only be settled on a broker-to-broker basis).

Ms. Crenshaw also called on the SEC and FINRA to work toward a "comprehensive regulatory framework around complex products, including options," which she said are "risky and can expose an investor to sudden and severe losses."

Commentary

Fundamentally, this is an issue of timing that could be easily remedied by something far short of a comprehensive new regulatory framework. Any proposal to address this problem should aim to give investors opportunities to fully realize their gains on such trades, rather than foreclose future possibilities of such returns by precluding or limiting access.

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