All Articles Finance Q-and-A: Tim Pawlenty on the "fiscal cliff" and financial services regulation

Q-and-A: Tim Pawlenty on the “fiscal cliff” and financial services regulation

3 min read


Tim Pawlenty is president and CEO of The Financial Services Roundtable, which represents 100 companies that provide banking, insurance and investment products and services. Pawlenty, who joined the Roundtable on Nov. 1, was governor of Minnesota from 2003 to 2011 and served in Minnesota’s legislature from 1993-2003. In this Q-and-A, Pawlenty discusses the issues facing the industry and his goals as the Roundtable’s new leader.

What are the largest issues facing the financial services industry in 2013?

Refinement of the Dodd-Frank Act is an important priority for the financial services industry — but nothing can happen until the “fiscal cliff” issue is resolved. We believe the solution to the “fiscal cliff” should be a two-pronged approach: One, immediate action that bridges over the cliff, and two, a long-term and sustainable solution that puts America on the path for financial stability. Step two will take awhile to achieve.

We’re looking at some new faces in leadership positions in Congress and regulatory agencies. Among them: Elisse Walter will lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, Rep. Jeb Hensarling will head the House Financial Services Committee and Elizabeth Warren will join the Senate. What changes might the industry see as a result?

Our job has always been to work with both sides of the aisle to achieve bipartisan support for legislation that benefits the economy, industry and consumers. While it is too soon to say how these new players will impact the industry directly, we look forward to working with them.

Looking back on 2012, if you had to pick one event from the year that had the greatest impact on the industry, for better or worse, what would it be and why?

Implementation of Dodd-Frank continues to be a paramount issue for the industry. The Roundtable has officially submitted 105 comment letters in 2012 and 258 comment letters since the passage of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. However, we are far from done. According to the Davis Polk Dodd-Frank tracker, only 39% of the rulemaking deadlines have been met with a finalized rule.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau swung into action this year with the appointment of Richard Cordray as director. What impact has the agency had on the industry so far, and what do you expect from the CFPB in the coming year?

Mortgage and credit cards have been our major areas of interaction with the CFPB since its inception. The Roundtable and its Housing Policy Council have long supported simplifying and harmonizing mortgage disclosures to help ensure that consumers fully understand the terms of their mortgage loans. We were pleased when the CFPB announced a proposed rule in July of this year to achieve just that. We are working closely with the CFPB on a number of issues including student loans, credit cards, military lending and housing.

You took over as president and CEO of The Financial Services Roundtable at the beginning of November. What is your vision for the organization? What goals do you have?

Our industry has a role in financing every major life stage of the American consumer. My vision is to ensure that we are working to achieve measurable results with Congress and regulators that move both the industry and the consumers we serve forward in a positive way.

This question-and-answer session was produced as part of SmartBrief’s 2012 Best Of reports, which capture the year’s most important stories in each industry. Sign up now for The Financial Services Roundtable SmartBrief to get tomorrow’s report on the top must-read stories from the financial services industry.