As we draw toward the close of another year, we always like to take a moment to reflect. This is our last issue of 2017, our sixth year of publication. It hardly seems possible it has been that long, but when we think back to the beginning it’s amazing how much has happened and how much change there has been.
When we began this publication in 2012, “Dodd-Frank” was a phrase still fresh on everyone’s lips. Although far from fully implemented, financial services firms were already feeling its impact. Today, Dodd-Frank is still pervasive but hardly the topic of daily conversation in many circles. One interesting exception is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Dodd-Frank creation intended to be responsible for consumer protection in certain areas of the financial services sector. However, its appearance in the headlines over the past few weeks has centered not on its mission or its accomplishments, but on an unusual battle over who has the power to appoint the acting director.
In these past six years, we have reported on a broad array of regulatory initiatives, from proposals to address extraordinary market volatility, to the adoption of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation and the implementation of the Volcker Rule, to the reduction in the time required to settle US securities transactions from three days to two, to the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) and now its successor, MiFID II (and pretty much everything in between). We have seen the election of a new US President and the appointment of a number of new senior regulators. We have discussed the speculation that the change in administration would result in less regulation, and the fact that, at least to this point, that has yet to occur in any truly impactful way.
Six years ago, the words “cryptocurrency,” “bitcoin,” “blockchain,” “token” and similar terms were used only by a small number of technology aficionados. Today, they are ubiquitous in the financial world, with everyone – regulators, bankers, start-up companies, speculators and investors large and small – trying to figure out where they fit and how they can be used for investment, capital raising, commerce and a hundred other things. And of course, with the explosion of platforms, internet and smartphone apps, and other electronic means of buying, selling, trading and investing, “cybersecurity” has become a $100 billion industry. All of this has resulted in regulators struggling to keep up with these developments, and market participants struggling to keep up with the regulators. Hopefully we have been effective on these pages in helping you with those efforts.
The last six years have been anything but dull, and the future is likely to be filled with even more challenges and excitement, but one thing is certain: six years from now, things are likely to look very different than they do today, and some of today’s hottest topics will be nothing more than distant memories.
So thanks again, and have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.