Financial Services

The implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act changed the legal, regulatory, and compliance landscape and has created a myriad of challenges for both financial services companies and virtually any business that needs to access financial markets and products to manage risk or raise capital.  Steptoe’s financial services practice offers a comprehensive solution to these various challenges, by providing clients the rare ability to simultaneously address the interplay of legislative, regulatory, compliance, investigations, and enforcement issues.  At Steptoe we have organized our financial services team across disciplines to provide clients a unique, integrated approach informed by insights based on deep knowledge of the laws and rules, extensive senior level contacts at the regulatory agencies and relevant committees in Congress, first-hand experience as regulators and legislators, and trial tested enforcement and litigation strength.  This approach ensures that clients’ needs are addressed in the right forum and that all sources of relief are understood, available and utilized. 

Our multidisciplinary team includes skilled legislative advocates, former regulators, former senior legislative and regulatory staff, financial industry thought leaders, and seasoned litigators with decades of experience working in and with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.  While serving in senior staff and leadership roles within the US Congress, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Treasury, Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), among other agencies, members of our team tackled issues others, with a more narrow approach, may never see.  As such, we bring a unique set of insights coupled with a deep understanding of the financial markets and market practices both in the United States and across the globe.

Our clients include commercial and investment banks, broker-dealers, major financial infrastructure, insurance companies, trade repositories, trading platforms, hedge funds, asset managers, and other capital markets participants.  We have significant experience representing these and other financial services clients before Congress and every major regulatory agency on a host of issues from banking, insurance, and financial product regulation to consumer protection to anti-money laundering, boycott, and international trade issues.  We also regularly represent clients before self-regulatory bodies such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the National Futures Association (NFA) and have worked with NASDAQ, the New York Stock Exchange, and other trading platforms.  We also advise energy, agricultural, and other companies that are affected by regulatory requirements under Dodd-Frank.

Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy

On behalf of clients we work directly with key policy makers who impact the statute and regulation governing the financial services, financial products, and capital markets sectors.  Our bipartisan team has strong relationships with the Members of Congress and staff of the key committees within the House and Senate with jurisdiction over financial services issues, as well as House and Senate Leadership.  Members of our team collectively bring decades of experience working on Capitol Hill in elected and senior staff positions including former Congressmen and numerous former senior staff.

On the regulatory side our team includes a former Commissioner of the CFTC, former enforcement officials from the SEC and FERC, numerous other senior regulatory staff from the CFTC, SEC, MSRB, Federal Reserve Board, US Department of the Treasury, Department of Homeland Security, banking regulators, and others.

Because we are consistently engaged with Congress and financial regulators on numerous issues, we maintain a presence whether or not a particular client has issues of immediate significance.  As a result, when issues arise, no introductions are necessary; we are prepared to go to work and know the right people to contact at the right time.

We have been involved in all aspects of financial regulatory reform, including the enactment and ongoing implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  As regulations continue to be proposed, finalized, and interpreted by financial regulators, some regulatory agencies are already beginning to modify their rules.  Furthermore, Congress has shown no hesitancy to subject the Dodd Frank rule-making process to extensive oversight, which has ultimately led to many pieces of legislation amending Dodd Frank.  We frequently counsel clients on the impact of proposed and new legislation or regulations.  On behalf clients we meet with legislators and regulators to minimize ambiguities in the new regulations and help ensure that our clients’ perspectives are heard and understood and ultimately, well positioned to comply with the new regulations.

Outside of the United States, Steptoe has lawyers in London and Brussels who are similarly involved with financial regulatory reform in the UK and European Union.  This involves interaction with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA), the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), and multilateral organizations such as the Financial Stability Board (FSB).

Finally, because the Financial Services practice is cross disciplinary, our capabilities and experiences in compliance, enforcement, and litigation can be leveraged in developing and advocating statutory and regulatory language that is crafted in a manner that minimizes regulators’ ability to extend their reach beyond which Congress or the presidentially appointed regulators intended. 

Compliance and Oversight Guidance

Our lawyers bring decades of experience working with US federal regulators, both in the rule-making process, regulatory interpretations, no-action relief, entity and product registration filings, and in compliance and oversight matters.  Notably, our team has extensive experience across the financial regulatory spectrum and has developed a particularly deep capability in the newly regulated swaps market – both advising market participants and on the regulatory side – including the implementation of new CFTC rules related to the negotiation, execution, clearing, and reporting of swaps and securities based swaps.  

Our team has also been extensively involved in advising clients on trends and issues related to the regulation of the municipal securities and other fixed income markets, as well as advocating policies impacting market structure, liquidity, clearing, taxation, and transparency. 

Aside from the Dodd Frank regulatory process, our lawyers have deep experience in issues relating to anti-money laundering, economic sanctions, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), FinTech, and cyber security, among others.

We frequently serve as an intermediary between our clients and the CFTC and SEC, working to help regulators and their staffs understand the technical aspects our clients’ businesses and various financial products and platforms and the nuances of how proposed regulations would affect these.  We also advise clients who find themselves negatively impacted by newly promulgated rules and regulations, particularly under the Dodd-Frank Act, and work on their behalf to correct the situation either through reinterpretation of rules, rewriting of rules, litigation, or amending the statute.

Investigative and Enforcement Litigation

Steptoe lawyers have represented financial services companies and key individuals in high-profile and sensitive investigations, prosecutions, and litigation involving the DOJ, the Department of Labor, the SEC, FINRA, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, as well as state attorneys general offices, district attorneys’ offices, and other state securities regulators.

Clients benefit from Steptoe’s deep litigation bench, which includes experienced trial lawyers who previously worked in the SEC’s Enforcement Division, including a former branch chief, a Division of Investigations branch chief within the Office of Enforcement at FERC, and numerous litigators with relevant and senior level DOJ experience.

In addition, our litigators frequently represent financial institutions and their officers and directors in white-collar issues such as allegations of money laundering and other alleged violations of law, as well as in lender liability claims and counterclaims involving securities fraud, common-law fraud, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claims, and merger and acquisition-related litigation.  Our work in these matters has ranged from informal proceedings to cease-and-desist actions and other enforcement matters initiated by federal and state agencies.  We also have defended financial institutions against civil claims predicated on the alleged breach of BSA and anti-money laundering rules and regulations.

Our cross disciplinary financial services practice has worked to ensure that litigators frequently work collaboratively with our legislative and regulatory lawyers and professionals, to ensure that agency activities are properly conducted in a manner consistent with the letter and spirit of the rules and the statute.