WASHINGTON -- Mary Schapiro will step down next month as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, turning over the reins to Commissioner Elisse Walter in a move industry observers say will bring little change at the agency.
Schapiro, 57, who took the SEC's top job in 2009 as it reeled amid public rebukes for failing to rein in Wall Street abuses, will leave the post Dec. 14, the agency said in a statement Monday. President Obama named Walter to succeed Schapiro as the SEC navigates a flood of mandates from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and pursues efforts to overhaul regulation of money-market mutual funds and high-frequency trading.
"Elisse Walter is a safe choice," James Angel, a visiting finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, said in a telephone interview. "She has the experience, she has credibility and she hasn't offended too many people. With all the other problems the administration has to deal with, with the fiscal cliff and everything else, the last thing they need is a major confirmation battle."
Walter, a Democrat who has backed Schapiro on virtually every rulemaking vote, was a senior executive vice president at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, where Schapiro was chairman and chief executive officer before rejoining the SEC.
Her views "are consistent with the views of the administration," Ken Bentsen, executive vice president at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said Monday in a telephone interview. It's "entirely logical and appropriate" for Obama to put her at the helm, Bentsen said.