top of page


The Referees of Finance: Understanding Regulatory Bodies

APEF: Solving the Financial Illiteracy Crisis

It’s the lesson you’ve all been eagerly waiting for- the regulatory bodies of the financial world! What, what’s that? This sounds super boring? Well…you may be right, but boring or not, they’re important to understand as you begin to navigate the world of personal finance. These regulatory bodies play a crucial role in ensuring the safety, fairness, and stability of the financial system. It's time to bear with me and explore some of the most important regulatory bodies you should know about and how they work to protect you as a consumer.

Why do regulators exist?

Imagine a sport with no boundaries or rules, with everyone trying to score on the other team by any means necessary- it would be chaos. Financial markets, if left unchecked, could be just as messy. Regulators step in to:

  • Protect Consumers: Regulators ensure companies follow guidelines for product safety and accurate advertising. This prevents people from unknowingly buying harmful or useless products. Imagine buying a bike helmet advertised as indestructible only to discover that it’s made from flimsy plastic—regulators prevent this.

  • Maintain Stability: Regulators monitor the financial system to prevent crashes or meltdowns. They can do this in many ways, such as pausing trading after a significant drop in the market, adjusting interest rates, or investigating suspicious trading activity.

  • Promote Fairness: They set rules to prevent companies from taking advantage of consumers (or each other) and can penalize companies for unethical or illegal actions. This creates a level playing field where everyone has a fair shot!


Who are the refs (AKA regulators)?

Federal Reserve (The Fed): You’ve probably heard of the Federal Reserve, often called "The Fed." It’s the central bank of the United States. The Fed’s primary roles include overseeing banks, controlling the money supply in the economy, and setting interest rates. 

  • Impact on You: The Federal Reserve's policies have an immediate effect on interest rates for savings and loans, which in turn impacts your ability to save or pay for big expenses like college or buying a car. 


Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): The FDIC insures deposits up to $250,000 per depositor per bank, so your funds are safe if your institution fails (Did you know that banks can fail?!? Thanks to regulators, that’s a pretty rare thing). 

  • Impact on You: By insuring your bank deposits, the FDIC helps protect your money and maintains stability in the financial system. This means you can trust your bank to keep your money safe!


Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): The SEC regulates securities markets (such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds) by protecting investors. This gives confidence to both individuals and companies that they are able to make trades and conduct their business safely.

  • Impact on You: If you choose to invest in the stock market, SEC regulations help provide access to accurate information regarding your investments, which can protect you from fraud or unfair practices.


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): The CFPB is responsible for safeguarding consumers against unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in financial markets. It oversees banks, credit card companies, mortgage lenders, and other financial service providers.

  • Impact on You: The CFPB ensures you receive accurate, trustworthy information when applying for credit cards or loans - this allows for informed decisions to be made and reduces the probability of costly mistakes.


Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA): FINRA is an independent private organization that oversees brokers and brokerage firms in the securities industry. Its main mission is to protect investors while guaranteeing fair and honest markets.

  • Impact on You: FINRA's oversight helps promote ethical conduct within the investment industry, an essential aspect if you decide to purchase stocks or other securities.


Regulators matter because they play a vital role in keeping the financial system safe, fair, and transparent by acting as financial referees to protect individuals against fraud, scams, and unfair practices. Learning more about these organizations will allow you to make more informed decisions and ensure that you can trust the institutions that you’re working with! While learning the roles of various regulatory bodies may seem intimidating (and confusing with all those acronyms, IMHO), having at least a basic knowledge can help you navigate the financial world with more confidence.


Bonus Tip:  Don't be afraid to ask questions! If you ever see something sus in the financial world, like an unbelievable investment opportunity,  you can always report it to the appropriate regulating body. You can find their websites and contact information with a quick online search; by being aware and informed, you can help maintain a fair and healthy financial market!

Soft skills refer to a set of personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace or social environment. These skills are essential for building healthy relationships, communicating effectively, solving problems, and collaborating with others.

bottom of page