Confidence in the stock market among financial services insiders is high following a speech by Securities and Exchange Chair Mary Jo White on June 5, according to a study by the Tabb Group.

stock market confidence

56% industry professionals reported high or very high confidence

According to the study of industry professionals polled in July, 56 percent reported high or very high confidence in the stock market while only 18 percent reported weak or very weak confidence in the stock market.

The study of 232 industry professionals showed that since taking office in April 2013, when confidence numbers were at their lowest, White has taken a ‘disciplined and data-driven approach’ to enhancing equity market structure, the report said. This approach has apparently led to her recently high confidence numbers.

As previously reported in ValueWalk, White’s June 5 speech was seen as a landmark in how it tackled what were previously considered difficult issues.  Speaking to a Sandler O’Neil conference in New York, White hit all the cords saying for the first time that payment for order flow is under review for regulatory action.  In the speech White hit conditional order types, market maker expectations and dark pool transparency, all hotly discussed issues.

Mary Jo White’s aggressiveness into question

The study comes on the heels of a harsh assessment in a ProPublica article by Jesse Eisinger that called White’s aggressiveness into question.

“More than a year into her tenure, she has disappointed a wide swath of would-be allies,” the article noted, citing sources including fellow regulators, administration officials, current and former SEC staff members and financial reformers.

Perhaps most baffling is White’s apparent discord with SEC Commissioner Kara M. Stein, seen as holding a torch for the financial reform movement.  The article points out that while White would be expected to side with Stein, but that hasn’t been the case.

“In recent months, Ms. Stein has been increasingly vocal in criticizing the S.E.C.’s ineffectual rules and weak enforcement and has cast dissenting votes,” the article said. “The unmistakable conclusion is that Ms. Stein believes the commission is taking a wrong turn.”

Meanwhile the Tabb Group, citing multiple studies, says that with media and legislative inquiries into equity market structure at an all-time high, report co-author Sayena Mostowfi says that “for the most part the market does want change.”  To bolster this claim co-author Valerie Bogard noted that a majority of participants voted for changing maker-taker pricing, reviewing the functions of exchanges versus alternative trading systems, also known as dark pools, and implementing some type of tick pilot plan.