Securities and Exchange Commission boss Gary Gensler tapped a vocal Wall Street critic as a senior adviser, the latest signal that he’s eyeing a crackdown on Wall Street.
SEC Chairman Gensler late Wednesday named longtime consumer advocate Barbara Roper as a senior adviser at the US stock-market regulator — saying she will focus on policy issues, broker-dealer oversight, investment-adviser oversight and examinations.
Roper, 65, has been a vocal critic of financial giants during her 35 years at the Consumer Federation of America, a Washington-based think tank and lobbying group, has taken credit for numerous policy changes including the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
During the Trump era, she penned numerous letters and op-eds, accusing then-SEC Chairman Jay Clayton — Gensler’s predecessor — of taking a laissez-faire approach to regulation that she called “weak” and “undefined.”
In 2019, she slammed one of Clayton’s key reforms — an effort to revise the so-called “Regulation Best Interest” rule. The rule is intended to force brokers to disclose conflicts of interests when they are advising clients on financial decisions. Brokers often refer to themselves as financial advisers but legally they aren’t held to the same fiduciary duty as registered investment advisers.
Clayton said he wanted his revisions to increase broker’s transparency with clients. But Roper argued the reforms were minimal and didn’t go far enough. In April she wrote a letter to Gensler arguing the rule needs to hold brokers to a far higher standard.
“In this most recent administration…they’ve been willing to do really anti-investor, deregulatory proposals,” Roper said last year. She added that under Biden, she would like to see the SEC be “aggressive” and advance “pro-investor priorities.”
Roper has previously served on advisory committees at the SEC and at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
“Barb is a champion for investors and will provide invaluable counsel on behalf of the American public,” Gensler said in a statement. “I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with her on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the critical market reforms of the Dodd-Frank Act, and I’m thrilled to collaborate with her again at the SEC.”
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