As widely anticipated, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro announced Monday morning that she would depart from the agency on Dec. 14.
Schapiro, 57, who has more than a year left on her term, said in a statement, “It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to work with so many dedicated SEC staff who strive every day to protect investors and ensure our markets operate with integrity.” Over the past four years, Schapiro said that the SEC had “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.”
President Obama designated SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter as the new SEC Chairwoman after Schapiro’s departure. “I’m confident that Elisse’s years of experience will serve her well in her new position, and I’m grateful she has agreed to help lead the agency,” Obama said in a statement.
In each of the past two years, the agency has brought more enforcement actions than ever before, including 735 enforcement actions in fiscal year 2011 and 734 actions in FY 2012.
Schapiro, who became chairwoman in the wake of the financial crisis in January 2009, is credited with strengthening, reforming and revitalizing the agency. She’s credited with overseeing a more rigorous enforcement and examination program, and shaping new rules for Wall Street.
Schapiro is one of the longest-serving SEC chiefs, having served longer than 24 of the previous 28. She was appointed by President Obama on Jan. 20, 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
Reached by AdvisorOne just as the news broke, former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt said Schapiro had been a “superb” SEC chairwoman. “She has worked tirelessly to advance the interests of investors, led the SEC in bringing record numbers of enforcement actions, led the agency’s incredible rulemaking efforts, and brought the agency back from the brink of extinction. She has left a remarkable legacy.”
What happens to the SEC’s rule to put brokers under a fiduciary mandate? While industry observers have been adamant that the SEC’s fiduciary process has stalled, Schapiro told AdvisorOne in a recent interview that while “it may appear from the outside it has stalled, work has been going on here [at the agency] to advance the issue.”
Schapiro told AdvisorOne that the fiduciary issue remains “really important,” and that she was “ready to go” on releasing a request for information to allow the public to help inform a “more detailed” cost-benefit analysis on the agency’s fiduciary rule.