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Schapiro adviser Elisse Walter to head SEC as new chairwoman

Elisse Walter

Elisse Walter, a confidante and adviser to Chairwoman Mary Schapiro of the Securities and Exchange Commission, will assume Schapiro’s position in December after being appointed by President Obama.

Securities lawyers and ex-agency officials said that Walter will likely maintain Schapiro’s agenda, as she has almost always voted alongside Schapiro on agency rules and enforcement decisions.

“She’s sincere and dedicated, and the administration knows where she stands,” Paul Atkins, a former commissioner and current CEO of consulting firm Patomak Global Partners LLC, said, according to Bloomberg.

Walter has already been confirmed by the Senate as an SEC commissioner, allowing her to bypass a second confirmation to become chairwoman. She will be able to retain the position until the end of next year.

The Obama administration has not yet named a replacement for Schapiro’s seat on the commission, leaving the panel evenly distributed with two Democrats and two Republicans. The gridlock could make it more difficult to enact controversial rules, including the contentious Volcker Rule ban on proprietary trading, Bloomberg reports.

Walter has spent a majority of her career supervising Wall Street. Before joining the SEC in July 2008, Walter worked for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulator for brokerage firms headed by Schapiro. Walter also served as general counsel at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Walter has been vague about whether she plans to stay with the SEC. She gave a speech in February in which she told the crowd her remarks would be “somewhat nostalgic,” as she neared the end of her term, and a source at the SEC said that Walter is looking forward to retirement, according to Bloomberg.

Walter has shown some signs, however, that she could stay longer at the SEC. She has undergone a new FBI background check and her official photo has been updated.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be the SEC’s next chairman and to continue to serve alongside the talented and dedicated SEC commissioners and staff who work tirelessly on behalf of America’s investors,” Walter said, Bloomberg reports.

In her February speech, Walter also offered some insight into how she may behave as chairwoman, saying that “it is critical to put the agency first and [her] personal views second.”

“Considering carefully when to compromise and when to hold fast; when to speak and when to hold my tongue; and when to dissent,” Walter said, according to Bloomberg. “Working to complete the tasks that Congress and the president assign to us through legislation, regardless of our personal feelings about those tasks.”

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