Regions Financial opens Washington government affairs office

Regions Financial Corp., one of the nation's 25 biggest banks, is opening its first Washington government affairs office.

The Alabama-based bank has $135 billion in assets and branches across the South and Midwest. The bank on Monday announced that Brian Smith, recently legislative director for Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), will head up its first Washington lobbying office.

Smith worked earlier as a senior director at Freddie Mac and as a lobbyist for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. He also worked as a senior policy adviser to former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

Regions is the latest bank to open a Washington office as lawmakers and regulators craft wide-ranging changes to the financial landscape in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis.

Bank of New York Mellon, Nomura Securities and U.S. Bank are among the large financial institutions that have increased their presence in Washington in the last year.