2017 was a big year for FSR and the financial services industry. Take a look at a few highlights from our advocacy efforts over the past year.

FSR’s 2017 Year in Review
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1.

|  DRIVING ECONOMIC GROWTH

31 YEARS IN THE MAKING—SWEEPING PRO-GROWTH TAX REFORM IS ENACTED 

FSR strongly supported a simpler, fairer, and a more efficient tax code that reduces taxes on individuals, businesses, and investment income. With the passage and enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we believe the United States can go on economic offense, drive more jobs and increase paychecks for hardworking Americans. FSR’s efforts included successfully advocating for immediately lowering the corporate tax rate, eliminating the corporate AMT, and ensuring everyday investors were protected from being hit with higher taxes through a first-in first-out requirement. FSR’s role also ensured the tax bill never included provisions that would have cut incentives for retirement savings. The final package is good for America, and we look forward to working with policymakers in the new year to further increase economic opportunity in communities across the country. Take a look at some of the highlights from a national poll FSR released with Morning Consult that underscored why tax reform was a top priority in 2017.

FSR MEMBERS RESPOND

The recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was welcomed by immediate efforts from businesses across the spectrum, a positive sign that the new fairer tax code will fulfill its promise to create more jobs and bigger paychecks. FSR members were among the first to pay it forward by rewarding employees with increased wages and bonuses.


 

2.

|  FINANCE + TECHNOLOGY

FSR BRINGS TOGETHER WORLD’S TOP CEOs IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR ITS FIRST FINTECH IDEAS FESTIVAL

We made big things happen in 2017 by bringing together the world’s leaders of the financial services and technology communities to look at FUTURE ideas and challenges as the planet grows more connected, more technologically advanced and financially empowered. More than 150 CEOs converged in San Francisco to showcase the technology prowess of the financial services industry while fostering new partnerships and educating our members in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain, Biometrics, Cybersecurity, the Future of the Workforce, and much more. Thousands more watched live as CNBC broadcasted directly from the event.

We’ll be back in San Francisco for the second FinTech Ideas Festival, August 8-9, 2018. Stay tuned as we will soon announce speakers and sessions for this year’s festival.

www.FinTechIdeasFestival.com


 

3. 

|  CFPB

NEW LEADERSHIP AT CFPB + CONGRESS ACTS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS BY PRESERVING ARBITRATION

This year brought a change in leadership to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with Director Richard Cordray recently stepping down from the helm. We believe Congress should use this opportunity to improve the CFPB by adding a multimember governing board to ensure decisions are made in a bipartisan and transparent manner.

But that wasn’t the only news surrounding the Bureau this year. In October, FSR led efforts to ensure Congress acted to preserve consumer access to low-cost arbitration—enabling Americans to resolve disputes in a timely manner. By exercising its oversight authority to overturn the CFPB’s “Arbitration Rule,” Congress helped ensure customers, rather than trial lawyers, can receive larger and quicker financial compensation from disputes with companies. 


 

4.

|  SIGN OF THE TIMES

SENATE AND HOUSE REGULATORY IMPROVEMENT BILLS ADVANCE; PRIMED FOR 2018 ACTION

FSR has long advocated that it is important to modernize financial regulations for banks of all sizes to ensure they are appropriately calibrated and are not unnecessarily holding back lending and impeding economic growth. FSR advocated for such reforms this year, for example, toward passage of House Financial Services Chairman Hensarling’s comprehensive reform bill, the Financial CHOICE Act, and Rep. Luetkemeyer’s regulatory modernization bill in the House along with Chairman Crapo’s bipartisan reform bill in the Senate. Working with Congress and the Administration to enact measures that will both improve financial regulatory activity while ensuring customers can access the financial products and services they need is a top FSR priority for the new year.


 

5. 

|  FORWARD THINKING

LEADING FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY AND CYBERSECURITY ADVOCACY

2017 saw significant industry and policy evolutions related to FinTech, notably around the issue of third-party data aggregation.  FSR was a key voice in the dialogue, particularly with the CFPB, which issued a set of industry principles closely aligned with FSR’s recommendations.  FSR is the forward-thinking voice for the financial industry on technology, focused on empowering customers, partnerships and collaborative opportunities, while simultaneously working with policymakers to modernize regulation to support innovation.

PROTECTING CUSTOMERS AND THEIR FINANCIAL COMPANIES FROM FRAUD

Synthetic identity fraud has rapidly become one of the most serious challenges facing financial institutions, particularly those with robust credit card programs.  After years of work, FSR made this issue a top bipartisan priority for policymakers in 2017.  Efforts are underway to advance legislation giving institutions modern tools through real-time validation with the Social Security Administration of an applicant’s name, date-of-birth, and Social Security Number, aimed at preventing this crime from spreading and impacting the vulnerable populations on which criminals prey.

TACKLING TODAY’S CYBERSECURITY CHALLENGES WITH AN EYE ON TOMORROW’S THREATS

High-profile data breaches, like the Equifax breach, brought renewed focus on the need for Congress to pass data security and consumer breach notification legislation.  FSR is the leading financial trade seeking to find common ground on policies that can be supported by broad sectors of the economy that will help protect customers even before a breach.  Key House committees are crafting legislative proposals and FSR is a key stakeholder helping shape the direction of these measures.  Expect significant developments in early 2018, when customers may finally see some action by Congress.


 

6. 

|  LABOR OF LOVE?

DOL DELAYS FIDUCIARY RULE; FSR POLL SHOWS IT HARMS ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE RETIREMENT ADVICE AND SERVICES

FSR continued our industry leadership to ensure consumers have access to affordable finance advice that serves their best interests. 2017 saw positive steps when the Department of Labor delayed implementation of its controversial “fiduciary rule,” but more work needs to be done. A rule requiring financial professionals to act in the best interest of their customers is just common sense, but such a rule should not involve miles of bureaucratic red tape. FSR continues to urge the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to take the lead and update a best interest standard that should apply to all financial advice. Take a look at this recent national survey of financial professionals from FSR and Harper Polling showing the currently proposed fiduciary rule will lead to fewer retirement savings choices for many Americans.


 

7.

|  NFIP

LONG-TERM REAUTHORIZATION OF THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM IS CRUCIAL TO PROTECTING AMERICANS

FSR worked tirelessly in 2017 to urge long-term reauthorization of the NFIP with appropriate reforms to increase capacity, streamline the process, and create greater certainty in the marketplace. For the better part of the year, policymakers in the House of Representatives convened with all stakeholders and crafted a reauthorization package that increases private sector involvement and streamlines lenders’ ability to serve borrowers in flood-prone areas, passing a bill to reauthorize the Program for five years and for reform to better protect Americans from flooding disasters. With the flood insurance program’s expiration on the horizon, we urge Congress to pass a long-term reauthorization reform bill.


 

8.

|  IN THIS TOGETHER

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MAKE SURE AMERICANS RECEIVE RELIEF IN TIMES OF NEED

Following the destruction left by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and widespread wild fires in California, FSR and its Housing Policy Council got busy with an effort to provide homeowner assistance to those impacted. The effort leveraged our “Hope Now” program, which provided an on-the-ground, face-to-face connection with affected customers and financial institutions. Hundreds of thousands have been impacted by natural disasters in 2017, and it is important those victims are able to access and maintain control of their finances and access to money. Consumers should know their financial institutions do many things to ensure their customers receive relief in times of need.


 

9.

|  SAVING SAVINGS

FSR ENSURES CONGRESS TAKES ACTION TO PROTECT WORKERS’ SAVINGS

FSR led efforts to ensure the override of a Department of Labor (DoL) rule for to allow government-run and mandated IRA plans at the state and local levels that weaken consumer protections and threaten the retirement security of millions of Americans.

FSR supports the state and local governments being incubators of ideas to expand access to workplace savings plans, but those plans should not come at the expense of worker protections for their retirement savings. The DoL rule would have allowed these mandated state and local-run plans to operate outside of the protections afforded by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

States asked for liability relief from ERISA to allow for these new government-run IRA plans. ERISA is a federal law that sets minimum standards for retirement plans in private industry. It protects the assets of millions of Americans so that funds placed in retirement plans during their working lives will be there when they retire. FSR supports expanding workplace coverage by allowing for the creation of pooled plans knowns as open multiple employer plans (MEPs). In 2018, Congress should act to protect and enhance savings incentives for employers and workers.


 

10.

|  REGULATORY HARMONIZATION

FSR LEADS CYBER REGULATION HARMONIZATION EFFORTS TO BETTER SAFEGUARD THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM AND CUSTOMERS IT SERVES

FSR and its member companies share policymakers’ goals of advancing cybersecurity protections for the financial services sector and the nation it serves. To ensure continued progress, FSR delivered an industry solution, a sector profile, aligned to the widely embraced and Congressionally-sanctioned NIST Cybersecurity Framework. FSR and its technology policy division BITS remain at the forefront of efforts to combat cyber security threats, leading collaborative efforts like this to make sure the sector is working together and working with the government and other sectors to ensure a well-coordinated team effort against cyber threats.


 

“FSR’s members finance the American economy, and modernizing our regulatory system will help create greater financial opportunity for all Americans.”

TIM PAWLENTY   |   CEO, FINANCIAL SERVICES ROUNDTABLE

 

About The Author

The Financial Services Roundtable represents the largest integrated financial services companies providing banking, insurance, payment and investment products and services to the American consumer. Member companies participate through the Chief Executive Officer and other senior executives nominated by the CEO. FSR member companies provide fuel for America’s economic engine, accounting for $92.7 trillion in managed assets, $1.2 trillion in revenue, and 2.3 million jobs.

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