Obama chose SEC official Elisse Walter to lead agency after Mary Schapiro announced she is stepping down. Walter is a Democrat on the SEC’s five-member panel. Her term expired June 5, 2012, but a commissioner can stay on for an additional 18 months if not reconfirmed or replaced before then–in her case December 2013. Obama expressed his “deep gratitude” to Schapiro for taking the job in 2009. Obama said in a statement,
I am also pleased to designate Elisse Walter as SEC Chairman after Mary’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.
Chairman Schapiro, who became chairman in the wake of the financial crisis in January 2009, strengthened, reformed, and revitalized the agency. She oversaw a more rigorous enforcement and examination program, and shaped new rules by which Wall Street must play. Reflecting on her tenure, Schapiro said
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 we have 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.
Chairman Schapiro is one of the longest-serving SEC chairmen, having served longer than 24 of the previous 28. She was appointed by President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
During her tenure, Chairman Schapiro worked to bolster the SEC’s enforcement and examination programs, among others. As a result of a series of reforms, the agency is more adept at pursing tips and complaints provided by outsiders, better able to identify wrongdoers through vastly upgraded market intelligence capabilities, and more strategic, innovative and risk-focused in the way it inspects financial firms.
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.
In addition, the SEC engaged in one of the busiest rulemaking periods in decades. Due to new rules now in place, investors can get clear information about the advisers they invest with, vote on the executive compensation packages at companies they invest in, benefit from additional safeguards that protect their assets held by investment advisers, and get access to more meaningful information about company boards and municipal securities. Added Chairman Schapiro
I’ve been so amazed by how hard the men and women of the agency work each and every day and by the sacrifices they make to get the job done. So often they stay late or come in on weekends to polish a legal brief, review a corporate filing, write new rules, or reconstruct trading events. And despite the complexity and the intense scrutiny, they always excel at what they do.
As a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the agency has implemented a new whistleblower program, strengthened regulation of asset-backed securities, laid the foundation for an entirely new regulatory regime for the previously-unregulated derivatives market, and required advisers to hedge funds and other private funds to register and be subject to SEC rules.
During Chairman Schapiro’s tenure, the agency worked to improve the structure of the market by approving a series of measures that have helped to strengthen equity market structure and reduce the chance of another Flash Crash. Among other things, the Commission for the first time has required the exchanges to create a consolidated audit trail that will enable the agency to reconstruct trading across various trading venues. Additional accomplishments.
Chairman Schapiro previously served as a commissioner at the SEC from 1988 to 1994. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, reappointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, and named Acting Chairman by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She left the SEC when President Clinton appointed her as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where she served until 1996. She is the only person to have ever served as chairman of both the SEC and CFTC.
As SEC chairman, Schapiro also serves on the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the FHFA Oversight Board, the Financial Stability Oversight Board, and the IFRS Foundation Monitoring Board.
Elisse B. Walter was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was sworn in on July 9, 2008. Under designation by President Barack Obama, she served as Acting Chairman during January 2009.
Prior to her appointment as an SEC Commissioner, Ms. Walter served as Senior Executive Vice President, Regulatory Policy & Programs, for FINRA. She held the same position at NASD before its 2007 consolidation with NYSE Member Regulation.
Ms. Walter coordinated policy issues across FINRA and oversaw a number of departments including Investment Company Regulation, Member Education and Training, Investor Education and Emerging Regulatory Issues. She also served on the Board of Directors of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
Prior to joining NASD, Ms. Walter served as the General Counsel of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Before joining the CFTC in 1994, Ms. Walter was the Deputy Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She served on the SEC’s staff beginning in 1977, both in that Division and in the Office of the General Counsel. Before joining the SEC, Ms. Walter was an attorney with a private law firm.
Ms. Walter is a member of the Academy of Women Achievers of the YWCA of the City of New York and the inaugural class of the ABA’s DirectWomen Institute. She also has received, among other honors, the Presidential Rank Award (Distinguished), the SEC Chairman’s Award for Excellence, the SEC’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Federal Bar Association’s Philip Loomis and Manuel F. Cohen Younger Lawyer Awards.
She graduated from Yale University with a B.A., cum laude, in mathematics and received her J.D. degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School. Ms. Walter is married to Ronald Alan Stern, and they have two sons, Jonathan and Evan.