Donald Nicolaisen, the chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission, will step down at the end of October, leaving newly minted Chairman Christopher Cox another key position to fill.

Former SEC Chairman William Donaldson appointed Nicolaisen in August 2003. He was formerly a senior partner at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Nicolaisen said he plans to return to the private sector.

Nicolaisen's departure, coupled with two other top-level vacancies, gives Cox the opportunity to handpick people that share his vision. In addition to the new chief accountant, Cox must also hire directors for the investment management and market regulation divisions.

There is also speculation both inside and outside the SEC, that other officials may soon step down, including the head of corporate finance and the agency's general counsel, the WSJ noted. The selection of a chief accountant will be closely watched, too, given the agency's power in dictating and enforcing accounting standards, including a new stock-option expensing rule.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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