The Washington outlook for 2019 depends on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist.
As the year starts with a new balance of power in Congress split between Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House, it will take bipartisanship to get anything passed. Some Washington observers see that as a good omen, at least when it comes to ideas for improving retirement security.
“I am pretty bullish about retirement security being high on the agenda next year. It’s important in terms of solving a public policy challenge that’s affecting millions of Americans,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
Institutional investors are also hopeful that the SEC will issue guidance or propose a standardized way to evaluate companies on how they deal with ESG factors.
Other priorities for the chairman are cybersecurity, digital assets and finalizing a proposed Regulation Best Interest for financial advisers. SEC officials are working, too, to solicit ideas on expanding investor access to private offerings.
They will also be dealing with a power shift at the House Financial Services Committee, when longtime ranking member Maxine Waters of California becomes leader. Ms. Waters’ priorities are protecting consumers and investors from abusive financial practices and preventing another financial crisis. She also is expected to work on housing reform and making the financial services sector more inclusive.
Ms. Waters’ priorities have been transparent, noted Jim Toes, president and CEO of the Security Traders Association, and “this committee really did prove itself to be able to work in a bipartisan way” on measures like the JOBS Act 3.0, which makes it easier for startups to access capital markets through an expanded definition of accredited investor and an easier on-ramp for initial public offerings.
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