With one week until the inauguration, and tumult and impeachment drawing most of the attention of those in Washington, President-Elect Biden has continued to staff out his administration. While current events have kept many of the potential appointments off the front page, these picks are telling of the priorities and policies that may come to the forefront over the next four years.
Although it has not been formally announced as of this publication, it has been widely reported that Gary Gensler will be tapped as the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mr. Gensler formerly served as the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and brings a wealth of regulatory experience to the role.
During his time at the CFTC, Gensler was largely responsible for the implementation of certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as reining in banking abuses in the swap derivatives market and enforcing a myriad of other banking regulations. Prior to this role, he served as an executive at Goldman Sachs and currently teaches as a professor of economics at MIT. This triad of perspectives as an executive, regulator, and academic has been cited in praises from numerous colleagues, and it is predicted that Gensler is unlikely to shy away from taking bold stances and keeping the pressure on major banking institutions.
This appointment comes at a critical time for the SEC, as the economic fallout from the pandemic has added to the pressure on funds, including pensions, which continue to judge the best ways to boost returns. The new commissioner will also have to contend with the implementation of new rules and regulations finalized in the last months of the Trump administration, including recent SEC actions written about previously by IPFI focused on clarifying Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards and the regulation of proxy advisory firms.
With combatting climate change set as a major priority by President Biden, there will likely be rightly increased pressure on corporations to disclose risks to their businesses on this front, as well as much-needed universal standards for how environmental criteria can be set and met in the private sector. Beyond these metrics, the SEC is likely to take on issues as wide-ranging as diversity in corporate management, insider trading, and whistleblower protections.
The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity congratulates Mr. Gensler on his pending appointment, and we look forward to working with him and the rest of the SEC to ensure secure and stable pensions throughout the country in the years to come.