Smith School faculty have been actively involved in advising key players and
proposing potential solutions to the finance crisis, briefing congressional
staffers, members of the House and Senate Committee on Banking and the Committee
on Government Oversight, and the federal Oversight and Government Reform
Committee on issues from the collapse of Bear Stearns to the Troubled Asset
Relief Program (TARP).
Now the Smith School has drawn together the expertise of Smith faculty in its
new Center for Financial Policy. “The financial crisis highlighted the need for
a broader, interdisciplinary perspective to addressing financial policy and
corporate governance issues,” says Lemma Senbet, William E. Mayer Chair
Professor of Finance and director of the center. “Our hope is for government
financial regulatory agencies, congressional staffers, industry associations,
and corporations to look to the center as a partner and champion of best
practices in the financial arena.”
The center will encompass the broad range of research in which Smith faculty
are already world experts, focusing on areas related to corporate governance,
led by Senbet; financial institutions and corporate finance led by Haluk Unal,
professor of finance; emerging capital markets, led by Vojislav Maksimovic,
Dean’s Chair Professor of Finance; asset valuation and markets, led by Albert
“Pete” Kyle, Smith Chair Professor of Finance; money management, led by Russ
Wermers, associate professor of finance; and risk management, led by Alexander
Triantis, professor of finance and finance department chair, and Cliff Rossi,
the center’s managing director.
As the federal government continues its efforts to reform and regulate the
financial services industry, policy-makers will need the expertise born of long
study that only comes from academia. The center will marshal and mobilize Smith
faculty in order to clarify the issues and questions that perplex policy-makers
in the complex world of financial markets. The center leaders will reach out to
Capitol Hill staffers in order to help steer and influence policy and elevate
the center’s visibility as a source of thought leadership and relevant, timely
scholarship. “We’d like to build relationships with agencies within the
administration and Congress that have engaged in policy work related to
financial services,” says Rossi.
In September, Senbet spoke to a group of interested executives and
policy-makers about executive compensation and public policy at the Smith
School’s Thought Leadership speaker series in Washington, D.C. In October, the
center brought in prominent economist Henry Kaufman to speak.
On November 5, the center will bring together academia, policy and practice
at a roundtable event titled: “Executive Compensation—Practices and Reform,”
featuring keynote speaker Kenneth Feinberg, a well-known lawyer and mediator
recently appointed to be the Obama administration’s special master for
compensation. In this role he will be responsible for setting the salaries of
some of the top financiers and industrialists in America, including the top 25
executives of AIG, General Motors, Chrysler, Citibank and Bank of America.
The center will also offer white papers and periodic briefings.
Bringing together stakeholders from academia, industry and the policy world
is one of the center’s key goals. Over the years Smith’s finance department
faculty have forged relationships with executive leadership at the World Bank,
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, staff with
Congress and the Obama administration, and insurance and trade organizations.
The center is also drawing on the extensive industry experience and connections
of Smith alumni.
One such alumnus is William Longbrake, PhD ’72, who joined the center as an
Executive-in-Residence. Longbrake has extensive experience in finance,
macroeconomics and monetary policy, risk management, housing, public policy and
academia, government, serving both the public and private sectors. He is
chairman emeritus of the Financial Services Roundtable’s Housing Policy Council.
He served as chief financial officer of Washington Mutual Inc. for most of the
period from 1982 to 2002, except for 1995-1996 when he was chief financial
officer of the FDIC. He serves on several committees of the American Bankers
Association, as well as numerous boards of directors of financial institutions
and charitable foundations.
Rossi, the center’s managing director, has nearly 25 years experience in banking
and government, having held senior executive roles in risk management at several
of the largest financial services companies. His most recent position was Chief
Risk Officer for Consumer Lending at Citigroup where he was intimately involved
in TARP funding and stress tests performed on Citi. Previous to Citi, Rossi held
senior positions at other major financial institutions and worked for a number
of years at the Treasury Department and Office of Thrift Supervision working on
key policy issues affecting depositories.
Senbet, the center director, is a world-renowned and widely-published
researcher in the field of finance. He has advised the World Bank, the IMF, the
UN, and other institutions on issues of financial sector reforms and capital
market development. He has served as an independent director for The Fortis
Funds and currently is an independent director for The Hartford Funds.
For more information about the center or the November Roundtable, contact
Cliff Rossi, email@example.com.