Big banks up the ante on advocacy

Two trade groups for the nation’s largest banks — the Financial Services Roundtable and the Clearing House Association— have merged to form the Bank Policy Institute. In addition to the nation’s largest banks, BPI members include regional banks and foreign banks doing business in the United States. Gregory Baer, former president of the Clearing House, is CEO.

“We will demonstrate that America’s leading banks are resilient and that the right balance of policies and regulations must be maintained to help ensure they continue to play their important role in helping drive economic growth,” Baer said in a news release.

BPI says it will support its advocacy with data and analytics. It has researchers, economists, financial analysts and attorneys on staff. In addition to advocacy on financial regulation, BPI will focus research on technology and cybersecurity.

The nation’s largest banks were mostly bypassed by the recently passed reforms to Dodd-Frank. In a letter on the BPI website, Baer said considerable systemic risk “lies outside the banking system” and that BPI will “focus on increasingly stringent and prescriptive balance sheet regulation,” which has forced large banks to choose business lines that address capital and liquidity rules instead of meeting customer needs.

BPI’s 17-member board includes the top names in banking, including Jamie Dimon, chair and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, and Brian Moynihan, chair and CEO of Bank of America. Regional bank leaders on the board include Andrew Cecere, chair, president and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, Kelly King, chair and CEO of BB&T Corporation, and Timothy Sloan, president and CEO of Wells Fargo & Co.

The future of the Financial Services Roundtable had been called into question after its CEO Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota and former presidential candidate, resigned in February. Pawlenty currently is a gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota.