Major financial industry groups to combine

Major financial industry groups to combine
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The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) and the Clearing House Association, two major finance industry advocacy groups, are combining.

The announcement comes one month after FSR's chief executive, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, announced that he would be stepping down from the organization. Pawlenty is considering another run for governor. 

The merged entity will have a new name that has not yet been decided, according to FSR. A spokeswoman told The Hill that discussions about the merger have been occurring for a “short time,” but would not provide a specific date.

Greg Baer, the president of the Clearing House Association, will helm the new group. 

“Our goal at the TCH Association has been to help shape sound financial services policy with high-quality research and analysis, and I look forward to continuing that work, and amplifying its impact, as we form a new organization,” Baer said in an emailed statement. 

While the two groups complete the merger, Chris Feeney, who leads FSR's technology policy division, will serve as the group’s interim chief executive.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who chairs FSR’s board of directors, said that the organizations — which have some overlapping members — “will be stronger together.”

One financial services executive outside both groups told The Hill that it makes sense for the two organizations to combine.

“It seems to me this is a reasonable rationalization of two associations with complementary membership and operations,” the person said. “Clearing House is good at regulation and FSR is good at lobbying. With Tim’s departure, [it’s the] perfect time to do it.”

Pawlenty sent FSR members an email on Tuesday morning shortly before the public announcement of the combination with TCH, with the press release attached. A person forwarded the note to The Hill.

This is the second major restructuring that FSR has undergone in the last three months, with the board voting in late December to only keep banks that have more than $25 billion in assets as members. Payment companies MasterCard and Visa were retained as well. 

Prior to that, its membership had numbered around 80 companies, including those in the insurance space, asset management firms and some other nonbanks; the shakeup left the group with about 43 members. 

That move also happened quickly, taking some members by surprise. State Farm’s chief executive, Michael Tipsord — whose company was slashed by the restructuring — had just been elected to chair FSR’s board before the decision. Multiple companies that were later nixed from membership had also been elected to FSR’s board of directors.

Although some FSR and TCH members overlap, the merger does bring some new ones into the fold, bringing new revenue with it. 

In 2016, before FSR’s restructuring, each group had roughly $18 million in membership dues.