Former SEC head joins consulting firm

Mary Schapiro accepted a position at a Washington premier consulting firm, her first private sector job after nearly four years as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and roughly two decades as a career regulator.

At Promontory Financial, Schapiro will advise a broad range of clients on a variety of regulatory and governance issues. But the job will not entail lobbying the SEC or other government agencies, said Schapiro, who started her new position on Tuesday.

“I have an explicit agreement with them that I will never interact with the SEC or any federal agency on behalf of any client or any client issue,” Schapiro said in an interview. “I didn’t want to ever have to go back and ask people that I was in the trenches with for anything. ... It didn’t feel right to me.”

Schapiro was widely credited for saving the SEC from the brink of extinction and restoring its damaged reputation. When she took over in January 2009, the agency’s failure to detect Bernard Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme or aggresively pursue misconduct on Wall Street had critics calling for the SEC’s dismantling.

But now, even Schapiro’s detractors credit her for making the agency relevant again.

Since leaving the agency in December, Schapiro has been nominated to join the board of General Electric. She also considered many different career opportunities, including work at law firms and in academia. But she decided on Promontory in part because it has attracted dozens of former regulators to its ranks, she said.

“I have a level of comfort with that,” said Schapiro, who has also served as head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Prior to leading the SEC, she had served as one of its commissioners.

Eugene Ludwig, the former comptroller of the currency, founded Promontory in 2001. It has since grown to include 15 offices worldwide, including the D.C. location where Schapiro is heading the governance and markets practice.

While Schapiro has no plans of leaving Washington, she said her public sector career is over. “I’m done with government,” She said. “I spent a lot of my career in government and I loved it, but I don’t intend to go back.”

Dina ElBoghdady covers housing policy for The Washington Post.
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