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The regulator-to-private sector revolving door turns again

Former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Schapiro, joined Promontory Financial Group as a managing director and chairman of its governance and markets practice this week. 

The transition makes Schapiro the latest former high-profile regulator to find a home in the private sector.

While Schapiro’s move is not all that unusual for a former regulatory insider, it comes at a time when there is a general wariness about the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington D.C.—especially at a time when Schapiro’s successor is facing tough questioning from mortgage-backed securities investors about whether the SEC will change course and pursue more claims related to mortgage investments.

According to Spokeswoman Debra Cope, it was Schapiro’s “unparalleled experience” that drew the attention of the firm. She has a “level of experience that is really a very strong fit for the work that we do at Promontory,” noted Cope.

Schapiro served as SEC chairman from 2009 to 2012. As the first woman to serve as SEC chairman and the only person to have served as chairman of both the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, she presided over one of the busiest rule-making agendas in SEC history.

“Her profound understanding of the U.S. and global financial markets, decades of regulatory leadership, and deeply relevant perspective and insight will add to our already significant involvement in capital markets, hedge fund and private equity advisory and compliance services,” said Promontory Founder and CEO Eugene Ludwig.

As for the advantage former regulators have when they cross over, market analysts say it’s a transition the financial community is used to.

Dr. Anthony B. Sanders, professor of Real Estate Finance at The Mercatus Center, says if Schapiro “wasn’t bringing any of her knowledge about the SEC, she’s of little value to Promontory.”

But this may raise eyebrows as many wonder whether it creates an unfair playing field.

Sanders says Schapiro will likely bring previous inside contacts into the Promontory family, but that’s just the name of the game when dealing with someone so experienced.

In a situation like this, Sanders adds, it’s most likely just someone with a strong knowledge of the industry wanting to get back into the game.

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