U.S. financial groups, wary of crackdown, feel out Biden transition team

U.S. financial groups, wary of crackdown, feel out Biden transition team

Reuters  | Nov 20, 2020 11:20

U.S. financial groups, wary of crackdown, feel out Biden transition team

By Michelle Price and Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Financial lobbyists, kept at arm's length by Joe Biden's campaign, have begun engaging with the Democratic president-elect's transition team on issues including economic stimulus, pandemic aid programs, and appointees, according to more than a dozen executives at banks and financial lobby groups.

Some industry executives had worried they may struggle to access Biden's transition team after his campaign had largely warned off lobbyists pushing policy asks and pledged to crack down on influence-peddling if he won. But recently Biden's transition team has approached financial groups and lobbyists to discuss policy and regulation issues, three people said.

In addition to these formal meetings, other industry executives said they had been able to chat informally with long-established contacts, including policy experts and academics, now acting as unpaid advisers to the transition team.

With progressives pushing Biden to reverse Trump's corporate giveaways, install hard-charging financial regulators and ramp-up consumer protections and climate-risk measures, financial executives hope the access may help avert an industry crackdown.

Richard Hunt, chief executive of the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), which represents big lenders including Bank of America Corp (N:BAC), Citigroup Inc (N:C), and Wells Fargo & Co (N:WFC), said Biden's team recently approached the CBA to discuss its priorities.

"They just want to sit down and get our thoughts about the status of financial regulation, and of course we're happy to share with them," said Hunt. "It's great they reached out, it's great there's communications."

While it is common for a new administration to seek policy input from corporate groups, Biden's team is being more cautious in its dealings with corporate lobbyists than President Donald Trump's administration, which was criticized for being too cozy with lobbyists and appointing several to senior roles.

Corporate executives and lobbyists said that when talking with Biden's team they had flagged policy concerns, but had generally steered clear of pushing wish lists or making demands.

Issues discussed included housing finance, climate change, consumer protections and agency appointees. But conversations were generally dominated by the more urgent issues of economic stimulus, pandemic relief and fixing problems with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the people said.

"We've shared other thoughts ... but the bulk of it has been on what's been happening with the pandemic and pandemic relief," said Brad Thaler, vice president of legislative affairs at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions.

"The campaign and transition have indicated that that's high on their list, so we're trying to engage and work with them."

Trump's refusal to concede the election, a stance backed by some senior Republicans, has also complicated matters. Some lobbyists fret that appearing to court the Biden team could attract the ire of congressional allies or even Trump's Twitter feed. Three sources said they were waiting for the dust to settle.

The Biden transition team did not respond to requests for comment.


The financial industry enjoyed a bonanza under Trump officials who relaxed rules which they said were overly burdensome and hurt the economy. While Biden said relatively little on financial policy during his campaign, his administration is expected to be much tougher and some of his transition appointments have rattled the industry.

Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden aide heading up the team, has previously advocated for breaking up big banks and has criticized excessive corporate influence in Washington. Julie Siegel, another senior team member, was formerly a top adviser to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading Wall Street critic. And several of the team's voluntary advisers on financial regulation have campaigned for much stricter rules across the industry.

"Progressives fought for and got a seat at the table. We're going to move as an industry from a relatively benign regulatory environment to a much more challenging one," said Scott Stewart, chief executive of the Innovative Lending Platform Association, whose fintech members typically service more low-income Americans and minority-owned businesses than traditional banks.

"But we think we have a really good story to tell of the populations that we're reaching," said Stewart. He added that his group had been in communication with the Biden team and some agencies to sound them out on their plans, particularly on consumer protection and PPP issues.

Likewise, Hunt said he believed banks' role in dishing out PPP loans had improved their image among Democrats, and that the industry's perspective would be heard.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden attends briefing on national security in Wilmington, Delaware

"It's a very different environment, we're not in the crosshairs anymore."

Latest comments

Add a Comment
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Write a reply...
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.

Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.

English (USA) English (India) English (Canada) English (Australia) English (South Africa) English (Philippines) English (Nigeria) Deutsch Español (España) Español (México) Français Italiano Nederlands Polski Português (Portugal) Português (Brasil) Русский Türkçe ‏العربية‏ Ελληνικά Svenska Suomi עברית 日本語 한국어 简体中文 繁體中文 Bahasa Indonesia Bahasa Melayu ไทย Tiếng Việt हिंदी
Sign out
Are you sure you want to sign out?
Saving Changes


Download the Investing.com App

Get free real time quotes, charts and alerts on stocks, indices, currencies, commodities and bonds. Get free top of the line technical analysis/predictors.

Investing.com is better on the App!

More content, faster quotes and charts, and a smoother experience is available only on the App.