Quote Of The Day: Columbia Law Prof. Compares SEC to Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI

Mary Schapiro is credited by some for a fast turnaround of the SEC.

The agency was desperate for recovery last year after missing Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme as well as the fault lines in Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns.

Her successes include making it easier to open investigations, streamlining management, pushing for reforms, and bringing in more attorneys.

But she’s still on proving ground, as some of her promises remain outstanding.

Reuters: But big tests still await Schapiro, such as fulfilling her pledge to make it easier for shareholders to have a say in putting forward nominations for directors.

It also remains to be seen whether her changes to management and procedure at the SEC will imbue rank-and-file employees with new zeal to pursue the agency’s mission.

If she backs away from a minimum proxy access standard for all public companies, she risks losing support from big institutional investors and investor advocates.

But the most colourful comment in Reuter’s he-said, she-said story on what people are saying about Schapiro’s tenure was included in the kicker, as Columbia Law Professor John C. Coffee said it will take more than a leader switch to change the nature of the entire agency: “A new pope can come in, but the curia is still there and the cardinals still have their set traditions.”

For those who pray at the alter of the SEC, sounds like it’s business as usual.

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