Schapiro Out, Walter In at SEC… Now What?

Elisse WalterMary Schapiro has stepped down as chairman of the SEC.  President Obama has appointed Elisse Walter to head the SEC upon Mary Schapiro’s departure.

Immediately following Ms. Schapiro’s announcement, there was some concern that the process of installing a replacement would bring delays to the implementation of the JOBS act.  President Obama’s quick appointment of Elisse Walter alleviated that concern, and the crowdfunding industry is responding positively.

Candace Klein, co-chair of the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA), had this to say in a recent post on CFIRA’s blog:

“We think she will be a very strong person in this position,” Ms. Klein points out. “Commissioner Walter has been open to listening to the industry, she has been willing to meet with us, and we’re excited to work with her. This is very positive for us.”

You get a sense from Elisse Walter’s comments at the recent small business forum that she won’t sacrifice implementation of law for the sake of overthinking regulations:

People often frame this discussion as “balancing” the desire for easier capital formation against the need for investor protection. But I see this as presenting a false choice, and I hope that you do as well. A vital prerequisite to efficient capital formation is a market in which investors have confidence. If allowing general solicitation results in increased incidence of fraud or sales of securities to investors that do not have the sophistication to understand the risks and merits of a particular investment, we will have failed not only investors, but small businesses as well. In other words, regulations that protect against these risks — without placing undue burdens on businesses — will benefit all participants in the capital markets. On the other hand, we should not block this change because we are afraid that harm will result; it is the responsibility of regulators (and market participants as well) to determine how to obtain the benefit of the change while safeguarding against the downside risks to investor protection and the public interest.

Walter can serve until December 2013 at which time a permanent replacement must be selected.  That appointment is subject to the usual congressional approval process.  December 2013 may be your new theoretical deadline for crowdfunding’s implementation in the US before things really get out of hand.

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