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Rating:At the SEC, An Outspoken Prof Takes Over IM Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, December 22, 2021

At the SEC, An Outspoken Prof Takes Over IM

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

An outspoken academic with strong opinions on mutual fund fees is taking over as the industry's top regulator.

William A. Birdthistle
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Incoming Director of the Division of Investment Management
Yesterday, Gary Gensler, chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), revealed the appointment of William Birdthistle as the regulatory agency's new director of the division of investment management, which regulates mutual funds and RIAs. Birdthistle succeeds acting director Sarah ten Siethoff, who also serves as associate director of the division's rulemaking office.

Birdthistle currently serves as a professor of law at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Gensler lauds Birdthistle for the latter's "remarkable expertise in investment funds." Gensler also hints that ten Siethoff will be staying on, describing her as being "a valuable counsel."

"I look forward to continuing to work with her going forward," Gensler states.

Birdthistle, for his part, lauds the investment management division for its "exceptional reputation for protecting investors in funds and the asset management arena."

Eric Pan, president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute (ICI, a mutual fund industry trade group), offers his congratulations to Birdthistle.

"We look forward to working with Director Birdthistle to protect and advance the interests of the more than 100 million Americans who rely on funds to save for their most important financial goals, such as buying a house, paying for higher education, and a secure retirement," Pan states.

Birdthistle is no stranger to the mutual fund industry. He is the author of Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now, a book that won praise from none other than the late Jack Bogle, and he is a frequently cited expert in mainstream publications' coverage of the mutual fund industry, especially when it comes to fees. He even co-authored an op-ed three and a half years ago calling for the industry to offer free index funds, shortly before one industry behemoth did just that.

Before joining Chicago-Kent 15 years ago, Birdthistle spent five years in the investment management practice of a law firm, Ropes and Gray. A dual Irish and American citizen, he is an alumnus of Harvard Law School and of Duke University.

ten Siethoff took over the investment management division back in January as the Biden administration came into office. She joined the division 2008, and she rose in 2018 to associate director of its rulemaking office. Earlier, she worked on M&A at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton. She is an alumna of Yale Law School, of Yale University, and of the University of Virginia. 

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