How to choose the best SEC filing agent for an IPO

4 minute read
How to choose the best SEC filing agent for an IPO


“Going public” offers private companies powerful growth opportunities — but also comes with a host of responsibilities to meet including scrutiny by government regulators, analysts and investors. Going public is an extremely taxing event for a company and the professionals engaged, who are under pressure to get it done on time. Companies need to nail every detail to maximize their return as they prepare to go public. Despite the complexity and uniqueness of every IPO, a study of some of the companies that successfully reach their IPO milestone reveals a common set of steps and best practices in their preparation.

Preparing for a successful IPO requires careful planning and assembling the right team is a critical step. The SEC filing agent is crucial to the outcome of the IPO, and it is important to understand the agent evaluation criteria to select the partner with the right expertise for the job.

The role of an SEC filing agent

Due to specific SEC requirements that must be met on time with complete accuracy, a filing agent plays a crucial role in the process of submitting documents to the SEC. Filing agents provide advisory services throughout the document review process, offering guidance and expertise to ensure compliance with SEC regulations. Additionally, they convert documents into the SEC-supported EDGAR HTML format with iXBRL, a standardized electronic format required by the SEC for regulatory filings.

Once the documents are prepared, the filing agent facilitates the transmission of validated filings to the SEC’s EDGAR filing system, ensuring proper submission and timely delivery. Agents also offer comprehensive services such as financial typesetting, printing and distribution.

What to look for in an SEC filing agent

The first area to consider is the filing agent’s experience, which is a significant indicator of their ability to support an IPO effectively.

In addition, undertaking an IPO involves multiple parties working together, making it essential to choose a filing agent that can seamlessly collaborate with all involved parties to maximize the likelihood of a successful IPO application.

Seven additional essential criteria for evaluating a potential  SEC filing agent include:

1. Accuracy and experience

Inaccurate filings can have severe consequences, with errors potentially costing millions. Choose an SEC filing agent with a proven track record of accuracy and experience handling thousands of filings annually. Rigorous quality assurance processes help ensure error-free and on-time filings.

2. Single source efficiency

Minimize errors by choosing an SEC filing agent to manage your filing from start to finish. Expanding the number of parties working on a filing complicates an already difficult process and increases the possibilities of errors. Can the agent quickly and accurately match the underwriter style? Is the agent sufficiently staffed with experienced filing staff? What are their staffing numbers and average tenure of their service staff? These are indicators of the agent’s speed and accuracy. Is the agent able to print and distribute materials in house? Reduce the margin of error and potential risk by choosing an all-encompassing partner.

3. Confidentiality and security

An SEC filing agent consolidates material information related to the IPO, making it essential to partner with an agent that prioritizes security and confidentiality. They should maintain high security and hold the ISO/IEC 27001, SOC 2 compliance and EU-US Privacy Shield certifications.

4. Document intake flexibility

Ensure your filing agent has the capability and experience to integrate your documents into the SEC’s filing system seamlessly. An SEC filing agent should be able to handle documents in various formats and convert them into the required EDGAR HTML format.

5. Expertise with all SEC form types

The chosen SEC filing agent should possess comprehensive knowledge of all SEC form types and filing processes. Their technical and accounting expertise ensures accurate, compliant and timely filings.

6. Prompt and comprehensive service

Efficiency and responsiveness are crucial when managing time-sensitive documentation processes. Seek an SEC filing agent that responds promptly and comprehensively to your questions and support requests – even outside regular business hours. Look for an agent that provides dedicated resources for the transaction.

7. Translation capabilities

In today’s global market, translation capabilities have become increasingly important. With the rise of Chinese companies seeking listings in places like Hong Kong, the ability to provide prompt and accurate translations, especially from English to Chinese, is crucial enabling non-English speaking investors to evaluate the IPO offering. Your SEC filing agent should also be well-versed in ESG, ADA compliance and other policy-influenced communications.

Rely on a full-service filing agent

Filing an IPO is an enormous undertaking, and you need a partner you can rely on. Toppan Merrill is a full-service SEC filing agent supporting every type of in-house specialist need the job requires, with the experience of decades of annually handling thousands of SEC filings. For more information, visit You may also reach us via [email protected] or 800.688.4400.

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