Ryan departs SIFMA to return to JPMorgan Chase

Kenneth Bentsen named acting president and chief executive

Jan 8, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Regulation, SIFMA, JPMorgan Chase
+ Zoom
(Bloomberg)

The chief executive of one of the most influential Wall Street lobbying organizations is departing next month to return to the financial firm that he left to head the group nearly five years ago.

T. Timothy Ryan Jr., president and chief executive of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, will step down Feb. 23 to become global head of regulatory strategy and policy at JPMorgan Chase and Co. Prior to taking over at SIFMA in April 2008, he was JPMorgan's vice chairman of investment banking for financial institutions and governments.

“More than at any time in our history, regulatory strategy and policies around the world are affecting our business and how we serve clients,” Matt Zames, JPMorgan's co-chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Tim has both a deep knowledge of these policies and the government representatives formulating them, and also knows our businesses and executives extremely well from his 16 years at the firm.”

Mr. Ryan joined SIFMA just before the financial crisis and has led the organization throughout congressional debate over Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation and its implementation since being signed into law in July 2010.

“Tim's unwavering commitment to ensuring the financial services industry has played a productive role in the financial regulatory-reform process has enabled open and constructive dialogue with lawmakers and regulators, in turn creating a more workable regulatory framework,” Chet Helck, SIFMA's chairman, and chief executive of Raymond James Financial Inc.'s Global Private Client Group, said in a statement.

Kenneth E. Bentsen Jr., SIFMA's executive vice president for public policy and advocacy, was named SIFMA's acting president and chief executive, effective Feb. 23. He is a former Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Texas.

During its previous fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, SIFMA generated $60 million in revenue and had operating income of $1.1 million, according to the 2012 review it released Tuesday, hours before the announcement of Mr. Ryan's resignation.

The organization comprises hundreds of financial industry firms and exerts considerable influence on Washington lawmakers and regulators. Its political action committee contributed $541,080 to candidates, parties and outside spending groups during the 2012 election cycle, according to The Center for Responsive Politics.

SIFMA spent $4.2 million on lobbying last year.

SIFMA has made a uniform fiduciary standard of care for investment advice one of its top three priorities for this year.

“Brokers and advisers should be held to a uniform standard of duty when providing personalized investment advice about securities to retail investors,” Mr. Ryan and Mr. Helck wrote in a letter contained in the 2012 review.

The Dodd-Frank law gives the Securities and Exchange Commission the authority to promulgate a regulation that would impose a fiduciary standard on brokers, who now must meet a less stringent suitability standard when selling investment products.

SIFMA's openness toward a uniform standard has heartened some fiduciary duty advocates, who contend that it shows that Wall Street is amendable to raising the bar for brokers.

But some investment adviser organizations are leery of SIFMA's calling on the SEC to formulate a new fiduciary standard that is sensitive to the characteristics of the brokerage industry. The heading for fiduciary-duty statement in the SIFMA report is “preserving investor choice,” shorthand for protecting brokers from the imposition of the 1940 Investment Adviser Act standard of care.

Overall, SIFMA asserts that Dodd-Frank implementation is faltering. Financial regulators have finalized about one-third of the law's nearly 400 rules.

“Dodd-Frank explicitly mandates the Financial Stability Oversight Council to be the body that coordinates comprehensive regulatory responses,” Mr. Ryan and Mr. Helck wrote. “We think that carries an obligation to take charge and sort out the current unruly mess, set priorities and move the process ahead.”

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