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At SIFMA Summit, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler Is Ready to Go on Reform

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Before the Senate passed the landmark financial services reform bill Thursday afternoon, July 15, Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler spoke to a packed auditorium at the SIFMA Regulatory Reform Summit in New York.

Gensler has organized CFTC staff into “30 topic areas” that, if the reform bill passes, will require action by the Commission.

Derivatives and swaps are a central area of the reforms in the bill, so Gensler’s agency will be a big player. They will make rules with other agencies, including the SEC. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and Gensler have worked together before, most recently on the investigation of the flash crash of May 6.

The CFTC has 55 actions to take according to SIFMA’s talley, and firms have a lot of questions about how the legislation will be implemented.

Gensler says CFTC actions will be guided by two principles: they “intend to comply fully with the statute’s provisions (300 pages),” and “will consult heavily with other regulators and the public.”

Gensler has been on the record for months as backing the extension of fiduciary duty for brokers who provide advice to retail investors. But there has been controversy about sale of derivatives or swaps to certain institutions that may be less sophisticated than others by Wall Street firms. Some municipalities, pension funds and foundations have run into trouble over swaps or derivatives sold to them.

When asked about extension of fiduciary duty to this kind of investor, Gensler told WealthManagerWeb that “additive protections [take up] pages of the statute, with additional business conduct statutes.” Provisions added in the conference designate a “special entities group for additional protections,” he added.

In his speech, Gensler said his goal for the activities the CFTC was to “protect the American public” by increasing transparency.

The U.S. is second in a global sweep of reforms, Gensler noted, Japan acted on derivatives a few weeks ago, now the U.S. and the European parliament will in September.


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