Piwowar to Leave SEC

By ASPPA Net Staff • May 08, 2018 • 0 Comments
One of the most vocal critics of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule is leaving the Securities and Exchange Commission — with a mammoth advice proposal out for public comment.

SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar announced May 7 that he intends to step down from the SEC on July 7, after serving nearly five years on the five-person commission. That’s close to the actual expiration of his term (June 5), although Commissioners may serve up to 18 months beyond the expiration of their terms (consider that Democratic SEC Commissioner Kara Stein remains in office, even though her term ended last year).

Piwowar’s departure will leave the agency with four commissioners, meaning some votes could be deadlocked if the SEC’s two Democrats oppose measures favored by Chairman Jay Clayton, a Trump administration appointee.

The Wall Street Journal notes that, at least in theory, the White House and Senate could move quickly and nominate replacements for both Piwowar and Stein, since the Senate usually considers candidates for commissioners in pairs — one Republican and one Democrat.

Piwowar, a long-time harsh critic of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule (which he has referred to as the “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” rule), was only somewhat less critical of the SEC’s recent proposal, expressing “misgivings about certain aspects of the nearly 1,000 page tome,” not only regarding its length, but also that the Flesch-Kincaid readability calculator indicated “they are about as comprehensible to the average reader as Herman Melville’s Moby Dick,” going on to note that that made sense, “considering that the SEC staff who drafted them are securities lawyers and PhD economists.” Piwowar also expressed doubts on the clarity of the line that the proposal reportedly drew between the Investment Adviser’s Act fiduciary standard and FINRA’s suitability standard.

Piwowar was appointed to the SEC by President Obama and was sworn in on Aug. 15, 2013. He was designated Acting Chairman of the Commission by President Trump from Jan. 23 to May 4, 2017.

Piwowar didn’t disclose what he plans to do after leaving the SEC.