Mary Schapiro will step down as chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 14 December, after nearly four years in the job.

Schapiro became chairman in January 2009, following the financial crisis, enacting "a more rigorous enforcement and examination program", making the agency better at pursuing tips and complaints, identifying wrongdoers and inspecting financial firms.

The executive director of the Centre for Audit Quality (CAQ), Cindy Fornelli, thanked Schapiro for her "leadership of the SEC and her stewardship of the US capital markets during a period of great tumult," when "the fate of the SEC was in question. She also commended her for "bringing order to the markets and for keeping the Commission focused on its role as the investor’s advocate."

During Schapiro’s tenure, one of the longest in SEC history, the SEC brought more enforcement actions than ever before, as well as engaging in a busy rulemaking period; including rules allowing investors access to more meaningful information about advisors and company boards, and additional safeguards for assets held by advisors.

The SEC also followed the Dodd-Frank Act with a new whistleblower programme, regulation of derivatives and greater regulation for asset backed securities, and requirements for hedge funds and other private funds to be subject to the SEC.

The SEC says that for the first time, under Schapiro, it "required the exchanges to create a consolidated audit trail that will enable the agency to reconstruct trading across various trading venues."

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Schapiro said it was an "incredibly rewarding experience" to work with staff who "strive every day to protect investors and ensure our markets operate with integrity". She praised them for excelling at their job in spite of its "complexity and the "intense scrutiny" they face.

Prior to becoming chairman of the SEC, Schapiro was chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the only person to have served in both roles. Before that she was a commissioner at the SEC.

In her current role, Schapiro also serves on the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the FHFA Oversight Board, the Financial Stability Oversight Board, and the IFRS Foundation Monitoring Board

She will be replaced by Elisse Walter, who is currently an SEC commissioner.