SEC’s Bowden: PE greatest business to be in

The SEC’s chief inspector, Andrew Bowden, said his son should enter private equity and offered words of praise at a recent industry event. 

Andrew Bowden, head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s 450-strong exam unit, took a flattering tone when describing private equity at a recent industry conference, calling it “the greatest business you could possibly be in.”

He went on to suggest that his own son should consider becoming a fund manager. “I have a teenaged son, I tell him, ‘Cole, you want to be in private equity. That’s where to go, that’s a great business, that’s a really good business. That’ll be good for you,’” Bowden said at Emerging Regulatory Issues in Private Equity, Venture Capital, & Capital Formation in Silicon Valley, hosted by Stanford Law School.

The comments, which have led some to question the chief inspector’s coziness with the industry, are in sharp contrast to a May speech delivered at the 2014 PEI Private Fund Compliance Forum, where Bowden rattled the audience by saying half of the 150 funds examined by his team exhibited material compliance gaps.

“It’s sort of interesting…where we have seen some misconduct and things like that, because I always think, to my simple mind, that the people in private equity, they’re the greatest, they’re actually adding value to their client,” said Bowden at the Stanford event.

In the months that followed the “Sunshine” speech, Bowden received harsh criticism from the industry, which wanted more clarity on the types of violations the commission was seeing and whether a flurry of enforcement action was to come.