Roisman Named Acting SEC Chair With Clayton’s Exit

While stakeholders wait for the announcement of President-elect Joe Biden’s pick, the U.S. Securities and Exchange will be kept on a ‘steady course’ under Elad Roisman's interim leadership.

Outgoing President Donald Trump has named Elad Roisman as acting chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Roisman was sworn in as an SEC commissioner in 2018. Prior to joining the SEC, he served as chief counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Roisman says he is “humbled and honored” to serve as the acting chair. His ascension to the role comes after the anticipated exit of Jay Clayton, who confirmed in mid-November his intention to depart the important market regulator by the end of the year.

“During the time I am in this role, I am fully committed to maintaining the steady course that Clayton charted during his admirable tenure,” Roisman says. “I look forward to continuing to work with the incredible SEC staff and my fellow Commissioners as we steward this agency into the new year.”

Roisman’s background also includes serving as counsel for SEC Commissioner Dan Gallagher. He also served as chief counsel at NYSE Euronext and as an associate at the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in New York.

For the retirement plan adviser audience, several projects overseen by Clayton during his three-and-a-half year tenure stand out, most notably the finalization and implementation of the Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) rulemaking package and the SEC’s related restatement of the fiduciary duty imposed by the Investment Advisers Act. The past few years have also seen significant collaboration between the SEC and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), leading to the creation of a new model framework for annuity transaction suitability that has now been embraced by multiple states.

As is normally the case during a presidential transition, Clayton’s departure will clear the way for President-elect Joe Biden to name his own leader at the SEC, raising—but by no means ensuring—the possibility that the SEC could reverse course on these matters. At this early juncture, it stands to reason that Biden’s choice of nominee may be significantly impacted by the makeup of the U.S. Senate, which will not be known until early next year.

At this juncture, sources tell PLANADVISER there is still no clear sense of who may be named to lead the SEC under the Biden administration. However, most expect the incoming administration to name an individual with a more prosecutorial background relative to Clayton, who is best known for representing Wall Street interests. So, whereas Clayton was focused on expanding access and removing barriers to capital markets, with a parallel emphasis on protecting retail investors, a Biden chair can be expected to return to a model more like former Chair Mary Jo White’s “broken windows” approach of pursuing even minor infractions.