Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Sharon Bowen and former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Annette Nazareth recently came to NYU Law to talk about the ever-changing financial landscape and future of regulation. Professor of Law Helen Scott moderated the wide-ranging conversation, co-sponsored by NYU Law student organizations Law and Business Association and Law Women, that included advice for students looking to enter the field.
Regarding the near future of financial regulation, Nazareth and Bowen speculated on President Trump’s promise to roll back the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed in 2010 to improve accountability and transparency in the financial system. Both panelists agreed that, although the act remains unpopular, it was a necessary response to the 2008 financial crisis. “Dodd-Frank’s focus on systemic risk was something that was really quite important,” said Nazareth. “The thing that Sharon spends most of her days on, the regulation of the derivatives market, was unquestionably the right thing to do.” However, Nazareth acknowledged that there may be room to modify the act’s provisions, such as scaling its requirements based on bank size.
Nazareth and Bowen also considered the way new financial technologies are affecting the future of regulation. A particular point of discussion was blockchain-based digital currencies like Bitcoin, a commodity for which there is a multibillion-dollar market. Bowen suggested that while regulators should try to not stand in the way of innovation, they should attempt to stay ahead of new technologies as they develop. The panelists also discussed other financial technologies, such as artificial intelligence, as potential tools for analyzing the market in the future.
Finally, the panelists shared insights about career development with students, some who will soon enter the professional legal field. “The practice of law is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Bowen, who emphasized the importance of getting the little things right and how small details like proofreading can make a significant difference to clients. In talking about her professional transition from private practice to the SEC and back, Nazareth conjured an image of one’s career as a climbing wall instead of a ladder to highlight that sometimes moving laterally rather than upward can be of greater benefit to one’s career in the long run.