The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has named Geoffrey Aronow as its top attorney. Aronow formerly served as chief of enforcement at the CFTC from 1995 to 1999, and at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA).
This is new SEC chairman Elisse Walter’s first appointment from outside the agency. According to Bloomberg, Walter and Aronow have known each other for more than twenty years.
“He has a good relationship with the chairman, which is a really important part of that job. I think the two of them will be a formidable team,” said Daniel Waldman, who worked alongside Aronow at the CFTC.
The chief attorney at the SEC is primarily responsible for evaluating regulation and representing the SEC in lawsuits. To this end, Walter’s appointment seems designed to send signals of continuity and stability within the agency.
“Geoff brings the ideal combination of practical knowledge, expertise, and common sense that is so critical to addressing the often nuanced and difficult issues that come before the Commission,” Walter said in a statement.
Aronow’s appointment may have the added value of cross-pollinating approaches between the agencies, both of which have been criticized in the last year for failing to understand the decision-making processes undertaken by the other, especially in the case of MF Global.
The SEC is also in desperate need of a morale boost after a lackluster 2012 in which it fell significantly behind the CFTC in terms of finalizing rules stemming from Dodd-Frank. According to Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland, boosting morale is one of Aronow’s best skills:
“He did a terrific job of leading the enforcement division, improving morale in the division. I think he will be very balanced, but I think he is very open-minded to regulatory reform,” Greenberg said.