Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton will leave the agency at the end of the year, the regulator announced Monday.
Clayton, who has led the agency for the last three and a half years, was appointed to the position by President Donald Trump in 2017. His term was set to expire in June.
"Working alongside the incredibly talented and driven women and men of the SEC has been the highlight of my career," Clayton said in a statement Monday. "The U.S. capital markets ecosystem is the strongest and most nimble in the world, and thanks to the hard work of the diverse and inclusive SEC team, we have improved investor protections, promoted capital formation for small and larger businesses, and enabled our markets to function more transparently and efficiently."
Clayton, a political independent and former attorney at New York-based Sullivan & Cromwell, will leave the SEC as one of its longest serving chairs. Senior Democratic SEC Commissioner Allison Lee is positioned to serve as acting chair following Clayton's departure, according to Reuters.
Under Clayton's tenure, the SEC obtained orders for more than $14 billion in monetary remedies, including a record $4.68 billion in fiscal 2020, and returned approximately $3.5 billion to harmed investors, the agency said.
The SEC said it conducted more than 10,000 exams, including a record number of investment adviser exams in fiscal 2018. With Clayton at the helm, the agency also paid approximately $565 million to whistle-blowers, including $114 million in the program's largest single award, according to the SEC.
Clayton's decision to step down shortly after a presidential election is standard practice at the agency, especially when there is a shift in the party in power, Bloomberg reported.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name his pick for the agency's new chief in the next few weeks, amid the Trump administration's legal challenges to the election outcome.
The former vice president is vetting several candidates, including Lee; Preet Bharara, Manhattan's ex-top federal prosecutor; Kara Stein, a former Democratic SEC commissioner; ex-SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr.; and Georgetown University law professor Chris Brummer, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Gensler is one of 14 individuals recently named to the Biden administration's financial industry oversight transition team.