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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bye, Bye, Piwowar

News summary by MFWire's editors

Mike Piwowar is leaving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by July 7.

Yesterday Piwowar sent President Trump an open letter declaring that Piwowar will resign as SEC commissioner on July 7 or when a successor is sworn in, whichever comes first. Piwowar's five-year term is scheduled to expire on June 5, though commissioners can serve for up to 18 months after their terms expire if they haven't been replaced yet.

The FT, the Hill, MarketWatch, the New York Post, P&I, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal all reported on Piwowar's resignation announcement.

There is no official word yet on who Trump will pick to succeed Piwowar in filling one of the Republican seats on the commission. One possible guide is to look at the November 2016 list of rumored contenders for the SEC chairman spot (for which Trump picked current SEC chief Jay Clayton last year). Those possible SEC chair contenders included: two former Republican SEC commissioners, Paul Atkins (who helped Trump with the transition) and Dan Gallagher; Proskauer attorney Ralph Ferrara; then-Representative Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey); and now-former-White-House-Communications-Director Anthony Scaramucci.

If Trump does not fill Piwowar's seat fast, his departure will leave the SEC with two Republican commissioners (Clayton and fellow Trump appointee Hester Pierce) and two Democratic commissioners (Trump appointee Robert Jackson and Obama appointee Kara Stein, whose term expired on June 5, 2017 but is still on thanks to the aforementioned option for commissioners to stay on up to 18 months after their terms expire).

Fundsters will remember Piwowar, who spent five months last year as acting SEC chairman before Clayton was confirmed, as a staunch defender of asset managers from the post-financial crisis regulatory reach of banking regulators (through the FFSOC), who pushed to designate big asset managers as SIFIs (systemically important financial institutions). He also backed then SEC chair Mary Jo White's vision to "modernize and augment" disclosures from asset managers and their mutual funds. And he spoke to fundsters at events from the ICI and the MFDF.

Clayton praises Piwowar, an economist by trade, for working "tirelessly in support of the agency's mission."

"I am particularly grateful to Mike for emphasizing the importance of economic analysis in the agency's efforts, and raising the level of involvement and rigor of the Commission's analysis in matters ranging from rulemaking to enforcement," Clayton states. "Mike's long-lasting commitment to public service has made a difference for our markets and Main Street investors."

An alumnus of both Penn State (twice over) and Georgetown who went to high school in southern California (he's a fan of ordering "animal style" at In N Out Burger), Michael S. Piwowar previously taught finance at Iowa State University. He first worked with the SEC as a visiting academic scholar in the office of economic analysis, then as a principal at the Securities Litigation and Consulting Group. During the financial crisis, he spent a year on the President's Council of Economic Advisers (under Bush and then under Obama). He then worked on Capitol Hill as the Republican chief economist for the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. He rejoined the SEC as a commissioner in 2013 after being appointed by Obama. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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