WASHINGTON — Henry T.C. Hu, the head of a relatively new risk division at the Securities and Exchange Commission who provided analysis on municipal and other financial markets, plans to leave the SEC and return to the University of Texas early next year, the commission announced Thursday.

Hu is director of the SEC’s division of risk, strategy, and financial innovation, a kind of internal “think tank” that was created in September 2009 to provide sophisticated interdisciplinary analysis across all SEC activities, including policymaking, rulemaking, examinations, and enforcement. It was the first new SEC division in 37 years.

He took part in the SEC’s first municipal securities field hearing, which was held on Sept. 21 in San Francisco. At that hearing, he asked participants to talk about disclosures regarding unfunded pension liabilities, calling them the “elephant in the room.” 

His question came after the SEC charged New Jersey in August with violating securities fraud laws by failing to disclose to bond investors that it was underfunding its two largest pension plans. The state agreed to cease and desist from causing the violations and did not pay any fine to settle the charges.

SEC chairman Mary Schapiro praised Hu’s work at the SEC. “When I asked Henry to join us at the SEC, he interrupted his life and academic career to help us launch Risk Fin and set the SEC on a new path. Interdisciplinary thinking is no longer a novelty at the SEC, thanks to Henry. I am deeply grateful to Henry for the great start that he has given the division and for his valued judgment on a wide range of important issues.”

Hu holds the Allan Shivers Chair in the Law of Banking and Finance at the University of Texas School of Law and has written on the law and economics of asset allocation, derivatives, hedge funds, mutual funds, bond fiduciary duties, as well as other issues and products. He holds a bachelor of science degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, a master’s degree in economics, and a law degree, all from Yale University.

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