The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is facing recruiting challenges when it comes to hiring cryptocurrency specialists, according to a recent report (PDF) from the agency’s Office of Inspector General.
- The SEC is facing challenges recruiting cryptocurrency experts due to its own policies requiring new hires to divest their crypto holdings.
- Many qualified candidates own crypto assets which would prohibit them from working on crypto-related matters at the SEC per ethics rules.
- Candidates are often unwilling to sell their crypto assets to work for the SEC, limiting the candidate pool.
- Competition with the private sector for skilled professionals is also a factor, as private sector wages can be substantially higher.
- This recruiting challenge for crypto experts was highlighted in a recent SEC Inspector General’s report on management and performance challenges.
- An SEC spokesperson downplayed the hiring issues, emphasizing steady hiring rates and the agency’s accomplishments.
- The SEC is heavily involved in crypto regulation and enforcement, with over 130 crypto-related actions since 2018.
- Recent high-profile crypto cases involve Binance, Coinbase, Ripple and Grayscale, with mixed results so far for the SEC.
- The lack of case law and legal certainty around crypto is also noted as an ongoing challenge for the SEC and regulation.
The report highlights that many qualified crypto expert candidates own digital assets which would prohibit them from working on related matters at the SEC under ethics rules. These rules require new hires to divest their crypto holdings, something many applicants are unwilling to do.
This policy has been “detrimental to recruiting” according to SEC officials cited in the report. The agency is fighting high-profile legal battles with major crypto firms like Ripple and Coinbase, and needs knowledgeable staff to keep pace with the rapidly evolving sector.
The SEC also faces stiff competition for talent from the private sector, which offers higher compensation compared to government pay scales. Cryptocurrency remains an emerging industry with unclear regulations, meaning clarity on legal issues could take years to emerge.
An SEC spokesperson downplayed the hiring challenges, emphasizing steady recruitment and low attrition rates. However, the Inspector General specifically called out recruiting skilled talent as a top management concern for the regulator.
For now, the SEC’s own stance on prospective employees owning crypto assets seems to be limiting the potential pool of experts. Unless the agency reconsiders this policy, it could find itself at a disadvantage in terms of crypto knowledge as more complex cases emerge.