When Helane L. Morrison was hired by the Securities and Exchange Commission to direct the San Francisco District Office’s training and enforcement program, she was well prepared. She had her law degree from UC-Berkeley, has passed the California bar and spent 10 years as a practicing attorney. She was also a natural for the job. He innate sense of justice and real concern for the needs of the common man was a perfect fit for the position. Plus her fearlessness meant she was not intimidated by the high-powered staff and internationally renowned companies her job required her to investigate. And she did a fantastic job.
Morrison did her job so well that three years later she was appointed as the SEC’s San Francisco District Office administrator. She was the first woman to hold that position. She said she planned to keep up the pressure on local traders and others that fell under her jurisdiction. As administrator her jurisdiction was expanded to include Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and northern Nevada as part of the Pacific Region. She maintained the office’s aggressive agenda and kept all the companies under her jurisdiction on their toes.
During her years with the SEC Helane Morrison worked closely with the enforcement staff to increase their presence and impact. She did the same when she was promoted to district administrator. She managed both the examination and enforcement programs and got great results. Morrision was in charge of several major investigations. Some of them ended in enforcement actions against Dean Witter, auditors for California Micro Devices and Republic Securities of New York. Those cases and numerous others showed even companies with well-known names and international reputations would be subject to the same level of scrutiny as any other company in her jurisdiction.
As one of the few female SEC administrators, Helane Morrison acquitted herself well. The workload and the staff of the San Francisco District Office doubled. They looked closely at mutual funds, brokerage firms, investment advisors and other registered entities and addressed the most egregious cases through deficiency letters and enforcement action. Under Morrison the SEC provided information to help investors using online brokerage services that were growing in popularity. Morrison developed a reputation as an administrator that would investigate and punish entities that cheated investors and consumers.
When she left the SEC in 2007 after 11 years Helane Morrison was highly regarded by all.