SIFMA, the trade association representing major brokerage firms, spent more money lobbying lawmakers last year than Goldman Sachs, Fidelity Investments, Vanguard Group and other top financial services firms.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association spent $6.6 million to lobby federal lawmakers in 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
That puts the trade group ahead of top-spending firms such as Goldman Sachs ($3.2 million) and Fidelity Investments ($3 million). Vanguard Group, Blackrock and Charles Schwab all spent around $2.7 million.
SIFMA has led the way in lobbying spending by a large margin since 2014. In 2017, the group spent $8.1 million. The approximately $1.5 million drop in SIFMA spending from 2017 to 2018 was due to a change in its government relations staffing. From 2014 through 2016, its spending hovered around $7.5 million.
The trade association that represents the mutual fund industry, the Investment Company Institute, also outspent individual firms. It has held steady around $5 million from 2014 through last year.
Of course, many of the top financial firms are also members of SIFMA and ICI and that may explain why they are not spending more money on an individual basis.
Another financial industry heavy hitter in lobbying was the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, which spent $2.4 million in 2018, up slightly from $2.3 million in 2017.
"NAIFA's small increase in lobbying reflects inflation and increased activity in states, particularly regarding best-interest legislative proposal in several states," NAIFA chief executive Kevin Mayeux said in a statement. "On the national level, we are currently working to establish relationships with the many new members of Congress so that we can effectively educate and inform them on the important roles advisers play in providing financial security and protection to consumers."
Farther down the list in annual lobbying spending was the Financial Services Institute, which represents independent broker-dealers and financial advisers. It invested $480,000 in 2018 and $540,00 in 2017. The Insured Retirement Institute, which represents the annuities sector, spent $290,000 in 2018 and $460,000 in 2017.
Trade associations representing investment advisers once again spent far less on lobbying than broker and insurance groups. The Investment Adviser Association spent $220,000 in 2018, down slightly from $235,000 in 2017. The Financial Planning Association increased its lobbying spending to $37,500 in 2018 from $30,000 in 2017.
The Financial Planning Coalition — which includes FPA, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors — spent $30,000 in 2018, down from $70,000 in 2017.
"While we have continued to stay in front of lawmakers and administration officials, educating them about the importance of financial planning and CFP certification, the reason for the decrease in lobbying expenditures is pretty simple: there was far less congressional activity and rulemaking than before," Maureen Thompson, CFP Board vice president for public policy, said in a statement. "CFP Board has been actively focused on updating its standards and other initiatives."
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. also lobbies Congress. The brokerage industry self-regulator spent $440,000 in 2018, down from $600,000 in 2017. A spokesman declined to comment on the decrease in spending.