The Securities and Exchange Commission will be under new leadership after its current chairwoman, Mary Schapiro, one of the longest-serving heads of the agency, leaves office at the end of the year. Her successor for a year will be Elisse Walter, who has been an SEC commissioner since 2008.
Schapiro first took the helm of the SEC in January 2009 in the wake of the credit crisis that sent the U.S. economy into its worst downturn since the Great Depression. Right off the bat, she faced great pressure to deliver stiffer SEC regulations and enforcement over Wall Street.
“Over the past four years, we have brought a record number of enforcement actions, engaged in one of the busiest rulemaking periods, and gained greater authority from Congress to better fulfill our mission,” Schapiro said in a SEC-issued statement.
Once Schapiro leaves at the end of the year, Elisse Walter is expected to take her post, according to a statement released today by the White House. In that release, President Barack Obama said Schapiro had helped make the SEC stronger and the financial system safer.
Obama also said Walter’s expertise should serve her well in her new position. Walter previously served as an executive charged with regulatory policy and programs at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and also led an in-depth review of the municipal securities markets at the SEC, according to her bio on Wikipedia.
It wasn't immediately clear when Obama will fill the vacancy that will be created when Walter becomes head of the SEC.
On Shapiro’s Watch
Under Schapiro, the regulatory agency worked to strengthen the equities market structure to prevent a repeat of the so-called flash crash that caused markets to fall almost 10 percent, only to whipsaw back to end the day 3.2 percent lower—all in less than 30 minutes.
As a result, exchanges are now required to create an audit trail so that regulators can “reconstruct” trading activity across various boards, the SEC said.
Other accomplishments include a focus on increasing transparency in the financial system.
The commission under Schapiro also implemented rules that allow investors access to objective information about the advisors with whom they invest; company boards; and municipal securities, as well as better access to safeguards that protect their assets held by advisors, the SEC said.
President Obama first appointed Schapiro on Jan. 20, 2009, and she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
As head of the SEC, Schapiro has also served on the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the FHFA Oversight Board, the Financial Stability Oversight Board, and the IFRS Foundation Monitoring Board.
A Vacancy At The Top
The SEC consists of five commissioners appointed by the president, with no more than three allowed to be members of the same political party. The president also designates one of the five commissioners as chairman.
Their terms last five years, with each staggered such that one of the five terms ends on June 5 each year.
The White House statement didn’t mention a successor for Walter, which means Obama will have a vacancy to fill at SEC.
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