Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro announced she will step down from her post on Dec. 14, nearly four years after taking on the role near the height of the global financial crisis.
Schapiro, who was appointed by President Obama, is one of the longest-serving SEC chairmen, having served longer than 24 of the previous 28. She shepherded the agency through the largest regulatory overhaul of the nation’s securities laws since the 1930s, and presided over one of the busiest rulemaking periods for the SEC in decades.
“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," Schapiro said in a statement.
During Schapiro’s tenure, the SEC has grown more adept at pursuing hints of criminal activity on Wall Street through vastly upgraded market intelligence capabilities and more strategic, innovative and risk-focused in the way that inspects financial firms. In the last two years alone, the SEC has brought more enforcement actions than ever before, including 734 such actions this year, and 735 in fiscal 2011.
In addition, the SEC also took aim at improving the structure of the U.S. marketplace under Schapiro’s leadership. In addition to a series of measures aimed at reducing the chances of another Flash Crash, the SEC took the unprecedented step of requiring the exchanges to create a consolidated audit trail that will enable the agency to reconstruct trading across numerous venues, a crucial step for a market that continues to become more complex.
Schapiro is departing an agency that’s still in the midst of implementing the Dodd-Frank Act. But as the result of that law, Schapiro oversaw the SEC’s development of a new whistleblower program, the strengthening of regulations governing asset-backed securities, and laid the foundation for new rules to oversee the previously unregulated derivatives market.