Acting SEC Chairman Michael Piwowar.

As anticipated, Republican commissioner Michael Piwowar was designated acting chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission by President Donald Trump on Monday.

With the departure of former SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White on Jan. 20, the agency now has two commissioners — Piwowar and Kara Stein, a Democrat.

Piwowar’s term expires in 2018, while Stein’s term expires in June.

The two SEC commissioner nominees, Hester Peirce and George Washington University law professor Lisa Fairfax, were not confirmed by a voice vote by the full Senate during the lame-duck session in the last Congress.

Both Peirce and Fairfax were criticized last April by Senate Banking Committee democrats during their confirmation hearing for refusing to take a stance on whether the SEC should move ahead on a rule on the disclosure of corporate political spending.

Industry officials have opined that Peirce, a fellow of the free-market oriented Mercatus Institute, could still be in the running as a Republican commissioner nominee.

Piwowar’s time as acting chairman will likely be short-lived, as Trump has already picked Sullivan and Cromwell Partner Jay Clayton to be the next SEC chairman. Clayton’s nomination hearing has not been set. 

While Clayton is drawing praise for being an “accomplished securities lawyer,” industry officials worry his expertise in representing firms like Goldman Sachs and Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks could leave American investors in the cold.

White told ThinkAdvisor in a recent interview that she thinks Clayton is “very impressive, he’s smart, he’s principled, he’s a really nice guy. I think he’ll be a really strong leader.”

— Check out Mary Jo White Fears Demise of SEC’s Independence on ThinkAdvisor.