We began Thursday in Washington, DC by giving a warm welcome to two attorneys from the Carlton Fields Jorden Burt law firm.

The first speaker gave us an overview of regulation and litigation in the financial services sector. He has extensive experience in federal and state securities, as well as insurance compliance and regulatory matters. He introduced the current financial service sectors and their relative sizes.

In the past 20 years, the US Congress has formulated Acts to regulate the market. The first speaker thought that financial entities prefer to deregulate to get more freedom, which results in regulatory tensions–such as the tensions between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and banks, insurance companies and Banks, and the SEC and Department of Labor (DOL).

Regarding regulation enforcement, there are three parts: inspection and investigation, whistle-blower, and civil or criminal penalties. Finally, the first speaker discussed market discipline, which consists of competition and litigation. To sum up, he introduced the regulation and litigation on financial markets to us in a simple but professional way.

The second speaker presented a short but high-level summary of litigation in financial services, with an emphasis on insurance. This speaker represents insurance companies and financial institutions in a range of complex litigation matters in state and federal courts. He pointed out that as investment products are becoming increasingly complicated, such as hedge funds and private equity, they are facing more litigation risk. He also mentioned concerns about companies making mistakes such as consolidation issues or providing information that is not very clear or extensive. Finally, he brought up the recent trends in Financial Technology (Fintech) and its regulations, which are functions of data they have in the marketplace.

Next, we were very pleased to have a speaker from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). First, the speaker gave us a brief introduction of CFPB.

It is a very young institution, established in 2011 as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB has consolidated separate financial consumer markets together to better help protect consumers’ interest, promote consumer financial education, and help businesses. One important component of the CFPB is supervision. The bureau reviews the performance of companies to determine their level of legal compliance. The CFPB will do a confidential investigation first, and then turn to public enforcement.

The speaker then shared some CFPB success stories, when fraudulent companies refunded the illegal profits to consumers and paid a large penalty. Last, the speaker introduced other aspects that the CFPB is working on, such as a consumer complaint process, which takes consumers’ complaints and reaches out to related firms to seek resolution. Furthermore, the CFPB is also devoted to consumer financial education. It believes financial well-being should include skills to make smart financial decisions, the capability to face financial shock, a basic degree of financial freedom, etc. Through posting resources online and building relationships with communities, the CFPB is expanding its impact and improving the financial market.

Next on the agenda was a site visit to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Two officials from the public affairs department welcomed us. The presentation started with a clarification regarding the difference between World Bank and the IMF.  For example, the IMF does not provide project financing, such as building a bridge in a developing area. The IMF ‘s global membership does not include the countries of Cuba, North Korea, Andorra, Monaco, and Liechtenstein. Then, the officer continued to talk about the voting shares and structure of the IMF. America owns the largest share in the IMF (16.5%); the other top shareholders also include China and Japan. Finally, new areas of focus for the IMF include inequality and inclusiveness, energy pricing, female labor force participation, and corruption. The speaker also emphasized the importance of males and females working together to resolve inequality between genders.

After returning from the IMF, we returned to the Brookings Institution, where our next speaker gave us an insightful and brilliant speech on financial stability oversight, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the role that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) plays in maintaining financial stability. In the speech, we learned the history of the FDIC and the areas in which the FDIC focuses.

Created in 1933, the FDIC was established to preserve and promote public confidence in the US financial system. It aims to insure deposits for all US deposit banks, examine and supervise over 4,000 banks, and serve as a resolution authority and receiver for banks and systematically important financial institutions. We then gained an understanding of the contents and roles of the Resolution Plan and how it works. We were impressed with how complex and detailed the FDIC is with regulating banks and other financial institutions.

Guest Bloggers: Yumeng (Yolanda) Jiang, Yanyan Liu, Bo Sang, Zirui (Ernest) Wan, Lingyu Yang (GMF 2017)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience. Names of speakers and presenters at firms are anonymous at the request of the firms and course organizers.

FDICOn Friday, May 27, the last day of our trip in Washington, DC, our first speaker was Jim Wigand, Managing Director at Millstein & Co. He formerly served as the first director of the Office of Complex Financial Institutions at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and as a Senior Advisor to the FDIC Chairman. Although we were all somewhat fatigued after a hectic two weeks, Mr. Wigand’s voice, akin to a news reporter, woke us up. He provided an overview of the FDIC, such as the timeline of its establishment, its primary goals, and the key areas on which it focuses. In addition, he also explained the FDIC’s resolution for banks and thrifts when they are in trouble. After Mr. Wigand’s speech, we all have a better understanding of the relationship between banks and the FDIC.

ABAAfter a short break, we had our second session of the final day: U.S. Financial Regulations from Cecelia Calaby, Senior VP and Executive Director of the American Bankers Association (ABA). Ms. Calaby focused on the area of regulatory policy, securities, trust, and investment at the ABA. Her session was borne from her past work experience, and she offered her thoughts about the US banking industry. First, she shared with us about her background, and how she became the Senior VP of the ABA from serving as a banker at a local bank. She then told us about her experience at a banking simulation program she recently attended. Before taking part in the program, Cecelia thought that monitoring banks’ balance sheets was pretty straight forward. After the program, however, her opinion had changed entirely as a result of the difficult situations she had to face during the training. Additionally, Cecelia gave us her thoughts about what she has seen in the past that still happens in the U.S. banking industry today. In the end, she described some of the biggest challenges that the U.S. has experienced since the Great Recession. She also explained how the ABA supplied information to the public about what was really going on during the subprime financial crisis.

NYTOur last speaker of immersion course was Jonathan Weisman, an economic policy journalist from The New York Times. He passionately discussed today’s current events, and generously reviewed public opinions toward Donald Trump, a topic which most speakers avoid. Jonathan’s was asked where he stands when there exists a conflict between the public’s right to know and authorities’ requirement to keep certain information confidential. He told us that it was the New York Times’ tradition to lean on the side of the public’s right to know. Jonathan also shared that the Chinese New York Times website has been blocked by the Chinese government, but that The New York Times keeps updating the website every day, expecting to one day “break the wall.”

Day 10 - National Gallery of Art

After the three speeches today, we visited the National Gallery of Art, one of the most famous art museums in the United States. The Gallery’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and medals traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present. It includes the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder. The collections were so impressive; we would like to come again.

The last two weeks were intense and busy, but all of us feel a great deal of satisfaction in being exposed to things that we have never experienced before. We tend to think that Wall Street bankers and American regulators are far from our life, but we learned from these very people and discovered that they are leading American finance to a better future. Finally, we sincerely appreciate Rich, Jamie, Jessica, and Ian for teaching and helping us during these two weeks. Thank you!

Guest Bloggers: Peiyu Wang, Chufeng (Caroline) Ding, Xiheng (Freddy) Shen, Xiaofei (Dora) Liu (GMF 2016)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 41 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience.

To begin day four, Jason Gould and Richard Choi, shareholders at the Carlton Fields Jorden Burt (CFJB) law firm, shared their insights about regulation and litigation in the financial services sector. CFJB surveyed many firms to investigate fraud in the financial industry. They are typically capable of breaking the fraudulent company down rather than putting the executives in the jail. They also shared some great thoughts about document preservation amid concerns of privacy security. Surprisingly, they hold a view that litigation is complicated and time-wasting.

Next, we departed for Capitol Hill, where Congresswoman Ann Wagner, (R-MO) was waiting for us. As a member of the Committee on Financial Services, she skillfully introduced us to the Retail Investor Protection Act (RIPA), transportation issues, human trafficking, as well as other legislation that has been implemented to protect access to affordable investments for middle class families.

In the afternoon, we welcomed Michael Spratt, Assistant Director of the Division of Investment Management at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Jim Wigand, former Director of the Office of Complex Financial Institutions at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) with warm applause. Mr. Spratt offered a detailed description of the SEC’s role in Federal Securities Law with specific examples such as the 1933 Act, Dodd-Frank, etc. Mr. Wigand portrayed a big picture view of the role of the FDIC, and benefits that the FDIC has brought to depositors.

Guest Bloggers: Yali Ning, Huilin Liu, Xinong (Roy) He (GMF 2015)

This is the fourth in a series of 10 blogs chronicling the experiences of 31 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week long immersion course in Washington, DC and New York. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience.