Since being named CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable last September, former Minnesota Governor and one-time Republican Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty has been tasked with representing the 100 integrated financial services companies that make up the Roundtable to Washington policymakers.
Pawlenty, 52, served as Governor of Minnesota from 2003-2011 and, before that, was a member of the state’s House of Representatives from 1993-2003, where he served two terms as Majority Leader. Though this chapter of his career represents a turn from his time as an elected official, Pawlenty says it is exciting to be working in an industry that has such a huge scope and impact on daily lives as does financial services.
"It was an appealing opportunity for me," he says of heading the Roundtable. "It's a way to stay in public policy and really lean into business and finance issues in a substantive way at the leadership level."
I sat down with Pawlenty recently to discuss a wide range of issues facing the industry. Here's some of what he had to say:
Bank Systems & Technology: What are your thoughts on Dodd-Frank, and the overall regulatory environment around financial services?
Pawlenty: Dodd-Frank is a helpful piece of legislation, but it needs to be implemented in a common sense, clear manner that reflects the needed balance between regulation and economic activity. And the bulk of the work in that regard remains to be done, because much of it has not yet been developed or implemented. There are many aspects of it that we remain interested in, such as the Volcker Rule and making sure that gets developed and implemented in a simple and manageable form. We're also interested in a series of mortgage issues, lending issues, and things like the CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau].
So far our relationship with the CFPB has been constructive, and we endorse [CFPB Director Richard] Cordray, but we'd like to see reforms in terms of oversight and funding. We think there should be a board of 3-5 members overseeing the CFPB and their funding. And currently, none of that exists. But overall, it's been constructive dealing with them.
Bank Systems & Technology: How can the industry best combat the ever-increasing cyber-security threat, and is more information sharing needed?
Pawlenty: It's obviously an emerging topic as applied to the financial services industry, and we're thankful for the executive order that the president issued to help fight cyber espionage and attacks. We also support the CISPA [Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act] bill that passed in the House, and we're hopeful the Senate will take similar measures.
The important thing to realize is that there is need for the government and financial services industry to share best practices, but that does not mean sharing consumer data. We need to share information about the threats coming in and the means and methods to fight back against them. Many of the attacks coming in have been DDoS attacks, slowing down access to websites, but we also need to remember to remain vigilant and diligent in preventing more low-tech crimes, like ATM fraud.