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Piwowar Likely SEC Acting Chair, Could Be New Chair: Ex-Commissioner Aguilar

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SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar will almost certainly be the acting chair of the Commission and could potentially be the new chairman of the agency, former SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar said Wednesday.

However, Aguilar, a staunch advocate of the agency adopting a uniform fiduciary standard for brokers and advisors during his time at the agency, said during remarks at the MarketCounsel Summit in Miami Beach that Piwowar would not embrace the agency moving ahead on a fiduciary rule, as current SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White has.

“I’m not optimistic. I just don’t think it’s [a uniform fiduciary rule] going to happen. The soon to be acting chair of the SEC [Piwowar] has been on record to say he’s not happy with it.”

If Piwowar, a Republican appointee, isn’t selected by President-Elect Donald Trump to be the next acting chair or permanent chair, “I think it will be someone with similar views,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar added: “I’m not very optimistic about the DOL [Department of Labor fiduciary] rule either.”

Attorney Brian Hamburger who heads regulatory consulting firm MarketCounsel, noted MarketCounsel’s belief that the DOL’s fiduciary rule “won’t make its way to implementation.”

With the departure of White in January, the commission will only have two commissioners—Piwowar and Kara Stein, a Democratic appointee.

The two SEC commissioner nominees, Hester Peirce and Lisa Fairfax, could be confirmed by a voice vote by the full Senate during the lame-duck session, Aguilar noted, but “no one expects that to happen.” Trump will likely “come up with his own people” to nominate to those positions.

While a fiduciary rule by the SEC is off the table under a new SEC chairman, Aguilar stated that Piwowar “probably likes” the idea of third-party advisor exams.

However, questions about which type of third-party would perform the advisor exams — accountants, lawyers, etc., will be questions Piwowar wants answered, Aguilar added.

“What is clear is that you can’t continue with the status quo” on the number of advisor exams.

Aguilar said that he does believe the SEC in 2017 “will float the third-party examiner idea” in proposed rule form “as a way to get additional information” and “also to be seen as caring about the issue.”

White said in late September that the Commissioners at the SEC are currently reviewing staff recommendations on a rule to require “independent compliance reviews” for advisors, or third-party exams.


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