Welcome to Financial Advisor IQ

White Urges New SEC Boss to Champion Fiduciary Rule

January 23, 2017

Former SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White says her successor needs to move forward with an SEC fiduciary rule, ThinkAdvisor writes.

White, who stepped down at noon on Friday as President Donald Trump took over from Barack Obama, tells the publication that not getting an SEC version of the rule passed after decades of study is “a disappointment.” She also tells ThinkAdvisor that the securities watchdog should roll out a fiduciary rule under Trump’s administration.

When asked about the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which requires retirement brokers to serve clients’ best interests, White told ThinkAdvisor she didn’t want to comment. But she tells the publication she’s a believer in a uniform rule that would cover both broker-dealers and investment advisors.

In September White said her staff submitted a proposal but she didn’t expect a vote in the near future because the SEC had been two commissioners short since the start of 2016.

White also blames the commissioner shortage for the SEC’s inability to roll out a rule on third-party advisor exams and hopes that it too can be enacted during Trump’s administration, according to ThinkAdvisor. As for her replacement appointed by Trump, Jay Clayton, White tells ThinkAdvisor that he is “impressive,” “smart” and “really nice,” and will be a “really good leader,” but will face challenges as long as the SEC remains under-resourced.

Industry insiders expect that the SEC under Clayton, a Wall Street lawyer whose clients include Goldman Sachs, will put less emphasis on enforcement.

Former SEC Chair Mary Jo White (Getty)

But it may take months before the Senate approves Clayton’s nomination, InvestmentNews writes. In the interim, Republican commissioner Michael Piwowar, who’s said that an SEC fiduciary rule must undergo an extensive cost-benefit analysis, is likely to serve as interim chairman, according to the publication.

Democratic commissioner Kara Stein hasn’t made her position on the fiduciary rule clear, InvestmentNews writes.

White tells the publication that despite more than 50 successfully passed rules under her helm at the SEC, she doesn’t intend to retire. And in spite of the challenges of overseeing an under-resourced commission, White tells InvestmentNews that the greatest pressure she’s ever felt was throwing the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game in August.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the InvestmentNews article cited in this story, click here.
  • To read the ThinkAdvisor article cited in this story, click here.