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Regulation and Compliance > Federal Regulation > SEC

SEC Chief White to Step Down in January

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SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said Monday that she plans to leave as head of the agency at the end of the Obama administration in January.

White, who became the 31st SEC chair in April 2013, is one of the longest-serving Commission chiefs.

During her term she has championed the agency acting on a uniform fiduciary duty rule for broker-dealers and advisors, and has pressed Congress to raise its budget so that the agency could increase the frequency of investment advisor exams.

“It has been a tremendous honor to work alongside the incredibly talented and dedicated SEC staff members who do so much every day to protect investors and our markets,” said White, in a statement announcing her plans. 

“I am very proud of our three consecutive years of record enforcement actions, dozens of fundamental reforms through our rulemakings that have strengthened investor protections and market stability, and that the job satisfaction of our phenomenal staff has climbed in each of the last three years. I also want to express my appreciation for the engagement and dedication of my fellow Commissioners and my financial regulator colleagues, past and present.”

Under her leadership, the Commission advanced more than 50 significant rulemakings, and made significant enhancements to its exam program, including increasing staff by nearly 20% by hiring new examiners and redeploying staff devoted to broker-dealer exams to focus on advisors and investment companies.

During White’s tenure, “oversight of the industry has been strengthened – with more data-driven, risk-based advisor examinations and a larger examination force devoted to advisor oversight,” said Karen Barr, president and CEO of the Investment Adviser Association in Washington. “We thank Chair White for her hard work and dedication and wish her well in her future endeavors.”

In late September, White said that SEC commissioners are currently reviewing staff recommendations on a rule to require “independent compliance reviews” for advisors, or third-party exams, as well as a “detailed outline” on a uniform fiduciary duty rule for brokers and advisors which is “before the commissioners for their consideration.”

White also said at the time that coordination between the SEC and the DOL continue regarding Labor’s fiduciary rule. “The coordination is going on and will continue to go on” with respect to the rule, White said. “We’re listening to those issues of implementation. The challenges are there, and we are very receptive to hear about those challenges.”

During her tenure, the Commission has taken action to address virtually all of the mandatory rulemaking provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, adopting final rules for 67 mandatory rulemaking provisions.

The former federal prosecutor and securities lawyer is also credited with implementing the Commission’s first-ever policy to require admissions of wrongdoing in certain cases where heightened accountability and acceptance of responsibility is appropriate. 

Thus far, the Commission has required admissions from more than 70 defendants, including 44 entities and 29 individuals, the agency said.

During White’s tenure, the Commission says that it brought more than 2,850 enforcement actions, more than any other three-year period in the Commission’s history, and obtained judgments and orders totaling more than $13.4 billion in monetary sanctions.  

The Commission charged more than 3,300 companies and more than 2,700 individuals, including CEOs, CFOs, and other senior corporate officers.

— Related: Sen. Warren Urges Obama to Fire SEC Chief Mary Jo White


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