Elisse B. Walter was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was sworn in on July 9, 2008. Under designation by President Barack Obama, she served as Acting Chairman during January 2009.
Walter holds a Democratic seat, succeeding Annette Nazareth, who left the commission in January 2008 to work in private practice. Walter was recommended for the commissioner position by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) in 2007, along with fellow commissioner Luis A. Aguilar.
Prior to her appointment as an SEC Commissioner, Ms. Walter served as Senior Executive Vice President, Regulatory Policy & Programs, for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). She held the same position at National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) before its 2007 consolidation with NYSE Member Regulation.
Ms. Walter coordinated policy issues across FINRA and oversaw a number of departments including Investment Company Regulation, Member Education and Training, Investor Education and Emerging Regulatory Issues. She also served on the Board of Directors of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
Prior to joining NASD, Ms. Walter served as the General Counsel of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Before joining the CFTC in 1994, Ms. Walter was the Deputy Director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission. She served on the SEC's staff beginning in 1977, both in that Division and in the Office of the General Counsel. Before joining the SEC, Ms. Walter was an attorney with a private law firm.
Ms. Walter served on the Board of Trustees of Jewish Women International and the SEC Historical Society and is a member of the Academy of Women Achievers of the YWCA of the City of New York, according to her official biographies.
Walter is married to Ronald Alan Stern (Brown University 1971, summa cum laude; Harvard Laws School 1974, magna cum laude). They have two children, Jonathan Leo Walter Stern and Evan Michael Walter Stern. Walter has a sister, Abra Joy Walter, and a brother, Alan Neil Walter.
Walter attended Pembroke College in Brown University for two years and graduated from Yale University with a B.A., cum laude, in applied mathematics and received her J.D. degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
In August 2008 at an opening meeting of the SEC, Walter expressed her support for the implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards for U.S. companies, but cautioned that a ruling from the SEC was far from finalized. "Most important, we have to keep in mind that no one knows for certain what the future will hold," she said. "I strongly believe that we have to prepare for the alternative that the Commission will determine not to adopt, or permit the use of, IFRS for U.S. issuers.…there are significant hurdles to overcome over the next three years in order for the Commission to determine to accept IFRS reporting from U.S. issuers." Cited in Who Runs Gov.
Another specific issue addressed by Ms. Walter before a Congressional subcommittee in May, 2006, was NASD's regulatory activities regarding inappropriate sales of certain investment products to members of the armed forces and NASD's financial education programs focused on military service members and their families. Of particular concern was a broker-dealer, First Command Financial Planning, Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, which had been making inappropriate sales of products and services, including the sale of an investment product called Periodic Payment Plans or PPPs. First Command had targeted and sold more than a half-million of complicated and often extremely expensive PPPs to servicepersons. After investigation and censure, the firm was fined $12 million in December 2004. That amount included restitution, and funding for NASD Investor Education Foundation. As of 2006, First Command informed NASD that it has ceased selling PPPs.