Sallie Krawcheck has been quietly raising her profile in Washington. For six months the former executive at Bank of America and Citigroup has been meeting with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, offering her insights on a variety of issues including "too big to fail banks" and money market fund reform.
Krawcheck, 48, who was ousted from senior jobs by both banks in recent years, had already sought to distance herself from Wall Street "fat cats" through op-eds, social media posts and TV appearances that have positioned her as an investor advocate. It all helps to explain why there has been speculation in the media in recent days that Krawcheck has become a contender to be chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, after last week's announcement that current head Mary Schapiro will soon be stepping down. President Barack Obama named SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter to take over the regulator as chairman designate but he will need to either renominate her next year or find someone else as a permanent replacement.
To some, talk of Krawcheck as a candidate came as a surprise given her background as a former executive at banks that needed to be rescued by the government and her lack of Washington experience.
And one person familiar with her thinking said that Krawcheck's efforts over the past few months were not necessarily intended to position her for a shot at the top SEC job. Rather, after getting fired from Bank of America, Krawcheck decided that whatever she does next she wants to get a job that addresses investor advocacy issues.
But others say the SEC job would fit with her views and approach.
"She has always been willing to take controversial views and she gets the industry," said Gary Black, global co-chief investment officer at Calamos Asset Management, who worked with Krawcheck when she was at research house Sanford C.Bernstein, and keeps in touch with her. "She brings a practical view on how to regulate the industry."
New York Senator Charles Schumer, a senior Democrat on the Senate banking and finance committees, has been a prime target for Krawcheck's overtures, sources say. He could be a key ally if Krawcheck is seriously considered for the SEC job or another in Washington.
"ISN'T AN ACT"
People who know or have worked with Krawcheck say the investor's friend persona isn't an act.
"She has been an advocate for clients as long as I've