Money 20/20: Impact of the U.S. Presidential Election on the Financial Services Regulatory Landscape

Blockchain, globalization, digitization, cybersecurity, fintech, new customer demands, and more. Money 20/20, the largest global financial industry event focused on payments and financial services innovation for connected commerce at the intersection of mobile, retail, marketing services, data and technology, gets underway this weekend (Oct. 23-26). Once again, Protiviti is proud to be an exhibitor sponsor and speaker at the event.
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In a session Sunday titled “Impact of U.S. Presidential Election on the Financial Services Regulatory Landscape,” Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, and Neal Wolin, former deputy secretary with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, shared their thoughts on what may happen after the election with regard to regulation in the financial services industry.

Both panelists noted that the financial services industry remains a bit in flux with regard to the regulatory landscape. Memories of the global financial crisis from a decade ago still linger with consumers and lawmakers alike. Pawlenty noted that the overall financial services industry, and so-called “big banks and Wall Street,” in particular, remain very unpopular. In the eyes of many, he said, events leading up to the global financial crisis nearly derailed the economy, so the reaction and sentiment is understandable. Any efforts to curtail regulation significantly likely will be met with protests as part of a growing populist movement in the country. Lawmakers are unlikely to introduce any drastic changes in this environment.

That said, change is possible, especially over the long-term. Whoever wins the presidency on November 8 will be making numerous appointments that will dictate the pace and cadence of regulatory changes. In addition, one or more Supreme Court appointments have the opportunity to introduce shifts in the regulatory landscape. However, those changes almost certainly will be slow to come. Pawlenty and Wolin explained that regardless of which parties control the House and Senate after Election Day, both chambers of Congress will remain relatively balanced – enough so that one party will be unable to enact major regulatory changes without the other party curtailing them.

Another item of note: With regard to fintech, Wolin observed that the views of both candidates for president are murky. It is unclear how either might proceed with regulatory oversight of the burgeoning fintech industry.

Bottom line: Despite an acrimonious presidential election and numerous promises and pledges from the presidential candidates as well as those running for House and Senate seats, the panelists believe the regulatory landscape for the financial services industry is unlikely to shift dramatically. Instead, new regulations will continue to come from the executive branch as well as from individual regulators in response to specific events or developments in the industry.


  • I agree with the assessment but would add two caveats – First, the focus of regulation is moving to the States regarding highly contentious political issues, e.g. abortion, firearm regulation, and with New York leading the way, cyber security regulations and the financial community. For a discussion of the latter see Corporate Counsel “NY Cybersecurity Regs Could Spur Legal Work Nationwide” October 10, 2016.

    Second, welcome to complex adaptive systems. The financial supply network (avoid the phrase “supply chain”) is both broad and deep. For example, I expect counterparty risk management to see more attention focused on cyber security risk management, both strategic and tactical/operational. WIth the latter moving away from traditional risk registers, heat maps and box checking (all well and good for small to medium sized institutions) to more “risk dampening strategies” (think network-based risk mitigation and recovery insights) recognizing that high levels of interconnection and interdependence creates both efficient and fragile ecosystems. Defense and Intelligence agencies are a couple of years ahead of finance in noticing the paradigm shift – and there still is a lot of institutional resistance, at that! Tomorrow’s risk consultants need to incorporate complexity theory – always difficult to translate into plain English – into their portfolio