Pennsylvania + Wall


Pennsylvania + Wall provides commentary on a broad range of current financial, economic and regulatory reform topics. The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of SIFMA.

February 27, 2015

Barbara Roper's Factual Inaccuracy

By: Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr.

Red-Line 150x150 Barbara Roper’s recent blog post this past Tuesday entitled “Industry to DOL: (Don’t) Mind Your Business” is not factually accurate.

Roper asserts that my statement, “the brokerage industry is highly regulated by the SEC and FINRA, including with respect to retirement accounts" is “irrelevant and wrong” because the Department of Labor (DOL), not the SEC and FINRA, has exclusive rule-writing authority under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

We do not contest the DOL’s rule-writing authority. However, it is equally clear and unarguable that the SEC and FINRA have plenary authority and jurisdiction over all....... Read more...

February 23, 2015

ICYMI: Bentsen: Retirement Advice Regulation Would Hurt Savers

By: Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr.

Ken BentsenKenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., President and CEO of SIFMA, joined Betty Liu on Bloomberg TV to discuss the proposed retirement advice regulation endorsed by the White House today. The following are key excerpts from the interview, "Proposed Broker Rules Ignore Existing Law, Bentsen Says."

The Proposed DOL Rule Will Limit Access To Education And Advice.  "Our concern with the Department of Labor's proposal has always been, in their previous proposal, that they would cut off access to education for investors, force them into higher-cost advisory accounts, which our members also provide but are services that people have said they don't want to buy. On the lower end of the scale, it would cut them off completely from any education or advice.".... Read more...

February 09, 2015

How to Be Cyber Resilient: From the Floor of the FINRA-SIFMA Cybersecurity Conference

By: Karl Schimmeck

CybersecurityOn February 4, FINRA and SIFMA joined forces to host a full-day conference dedicated to discussing important issues around cybersecurity for brokerage and advisory firms. The program fostered a culture of risk management and protection from cyber threats for financial institutions and their clients, and addressed the latest regulatory developments and guidance.

Cyber attacks are increasingly a major threat to national security and the U.S. financial system, and we are all working hand in hand to protect the integrity of the markets and the millions of Americans who use financial services every day. .... Read more...

December 15, 2014

Expert Insights: The Outlook for the US Economy in 2015

Diane Swonk - Chair, Economic Advisory RoundtableSIFMA's Economic Advisory Roundtable is composed of chief U.S. economists from several SIFMA member firms. Twice per year, the Roundtable publishes the results of a detailed survey on the U.S. economic outlook and rates forecasts.

Yesterday, the Roundtable released its "U.S. End-Year 2014 Economic Outlook," forecasting that the U.S. economy will grow at a 2.3% rate in full-year 2014 and 3.0% in 2015. The following is a Q&A with Diane Swonk, Chief Economist for Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. and Chair of the Economic Advisory Roundtable..... Read more...

December 10, 2014

The State of Our Industry

By Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr.

Hearing - Testimony - ViewpointSIFMA held its annual State of the Industry media briefing on December 4, 2014 in NYC. In this review of the past year, we examined the role the capital markets play in the nation’s economic recovery; our efforts around cybersecurity, equity market structure reform, and preserving investor choice; and our policy agenda for the coming year.

How did the capital markets perform in 2014?
On the whole, 2014 was a good year for our industry and the clients we serve: our capital markets provided approximately 75% of financing for businesses in the U.S., and we matched retail and institutional investors with those sellers in the marketplace..... Read more...

December 09, 2014

Muni Markets: Let the Sun Shine In

By David Cohen

 Municipal BondsSIFMA believes that tremendous strides have been made in improving market transparency for retail investors over the past twenty years - yet for people who are familiar with the equities market that operates with a central exchange and constant trading activity, the municipal market may still seem opaque.  In fact, the municipal market operates differently-but those differences are not incomprehensible and they are not part of any deliberate plan to obscure the facts or impede the ability of investors to understand bonds or their pricing.  Continuing retail investor confidence in the municipal bond market that has financed four million miles of roads, half a million bridges, 16,000 airports and 900,000 miles of water pipes all across the country is critical.

First, the bond "market" is not the same as the stock "market".  There are several structural differences between the two.  There is no central place or exchange to sell or buy municipal bonds; the municipal market is a huge "over-the-counter" market consisting of a network of over 1,600 independent dealers across the country. The muni bond market is so vast that its size, which consists of approximately $3.7 trillion of outstanding bonds, is sometimes hard to imagine.  This year alone, state and local governments across the country have accessed over $215.4 billion in funding through the municipal bond markets..... Read more...

November 26, 2014

Mary Jo White Lays Out Next Steps for SEC and its Impact on Capital Markets

 By Ira Hammerman  

Mary Jo White - 150Conducting a comprehensive review of the equity market structure, enhancing fixed income markets and improving enforcement techniques are all priorities for the Securities and Exchange Commission this year, noted chair Mary Jo White in remarks to financial professionals at SIFMA's Annual Meeting

"The markets are the strongest and most reliable in the world," White said, "but that doesn't mean they can't be optimized. I stand for robust and resilient markets." 

Another high-level goal for the commission includes producing a system that increases disclosure effectiveness, and in turn is more useful to investors. Chair White acknowledged that technology should also work for the investor to increase pre-trade transparency and continually lower transaction costs. .... Read more...

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