Krawcheck, possible SEC head, raises Washington image

Sallie Krawcheck

As head of Bank of America's wealth management unit, Krawcheck praised a controversial plan that would hold commission-based brokers to the same higher ethical standards as fee-based financial advisers - an idea that could drastically affect Merrill's bottom line. She bristled at Wall Street's efforts to derail the idea.

"Regulators are upset with us, the public is irate with us...and some number is bewildered by us...Rather than focus on each other, we should shift our focus to our clients," she told attendees of a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association's private client conference in April 2010. She was ousted at Bank of America by CEO Brian Moynihan as part of a reorganization in September 2011.

RADIO SILENCE

The SEC is not seen as the only option. Some have suggested that Krawcheck might want to cut her teeth in Washington in a mid-level position at the US Treasury Department or in a senior role at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to the person familiar with Krawcheck's discussions with legislators.

It is unclear whether Krawcheck is a serious contender for the SEC post. Other possible contenders include Richard Ketchum, head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and Walter, who can remain in the post through December 2013 without needing Senate confirmation.

Krawcheck, often named among the most powerful women in banking, has kept a lower profile since her name was mentioned as a candidate to run the SEC. Her last tweet - on the wisdom of a money market reform proposal from the head of retail brokerage Charles Schwab - came at 10:30 a.m. ET last Monday, just minutes after the SEC officially announced Schapiro's departure. Krawcheck may be a hard sell for the Obama administration, given that two of her former employers were big contributors to the US financial crisis. She was also chief financial officer at Citigroup at a time when it increased its leverage significantly, and she has been a beneficiary of Wall Street's multi-million dollar signing bonuses and departure packages for top executives.

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