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Mary Schapiro: Toughest Job in the Nation?—Top Women Extended Profile

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One could argue that Mary Schapiro holds one of the most important—and high profile—jobs in the nation. As chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), she’s charged with the monumental task of protecting investors by policing Wall Street.

Since graduating from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., in 1977 and then earning a Juris Doctor degree (with honors) from George Washington University in 1980, Schapiro has held numerous high-level regulatory positions. Before becoming the 29th chairman of the SEC in 2009, she was the CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and served as an SEC Commissioner from December 1988 to October 1994.

Schapiro was also named the Financial Women’s Association Public Sector Woman of the Year in 2000.

mary schapiroWhen asked by AdvisorOne to describe what it takes to be a successful woman in the financial services arena, Schapiro said in an email message July 1 that she believes that “if you love what you do, you can become very successful at it.” Schapiro added that what motivates her “is the significance of the SEC’s mission,” and that she “really enjoys that [her] job is about protecting everyone who sets out to invest in [the U.S.] markets.”

While all eyes will be on the SEC as it turns its attention to crafting a fiduciary standard for brokers later this month, Schapiro cites several achievements that the Commission has made over the past year: putting in place “several measures that have helped prevent another May 6th flash crash” as well as “continuing to bring significant enforcement actions stemming from the financial crisis.” She went on to tell AdvisorOne that the SEC also “made incredible progress in writing the rules to regulate derivatives and bolster the resiliency of money markets, created a new whistleblower” and passed rules to require hedge fund advisors to register with the Commission.

Several members of Congress have applauded Schapiro’s efforts thus far as she has labored to make many improvements at the agency. Schapiro says that she’s had “some really wonderful role models and people who have helped guide me at every stage of my career,” but during her time as chairman of the SEC she admits that she couldn’t do her job alone. “Every day I try to reflect on how fortunate I am to be surrounded by smart, committed people.”  

See the lead news article on the 2011 50 Top Women in Wealth.

See the article on the process for choosing the 2011 50 Top Women in Wealth.

See the 2010 50 Top Women in Wealth.


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