Donald Trump’s stunning election upset brings with it many questions about the future of the financial regulatory industry. Trump has stated that he plans to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 and may also repeal the fiduciary rule that was handed down by the Department of Labor earlier this year. If this happens, then the regulatory burden in the financial industry may fall heavily upon the shoulders of state regulators. Several defense attorneys for white-collar defendants stated that they expect laws like the Martin Act in New York, which gives prosecutors greater freedom to bring charges, to be used more often during Trump’s presidency. William Galvin, the top securities regulator in Massachusetts, told Reuters that, “...it sounds like we’re going to be under the same type of problems there were prior to the Great Recession, with securities and financial services being 'lightly regulated.' I think that’s a problem. You need a national regulator, and if they can’t, the states need to do the job and they should.”
This issue is amplified by the pending conclusion of SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White’s term as the head of the agency. Trump will be able to appoint a successor who will have a substantial influence on the regulation of Wall Street. Some experts feel that this is the biggest way that Trump can impact the industry. Jay Brown, a professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, told Reuters, "I think the biggest impact on state regulators will come from the choice of the leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission.” Brown also said that an SEC chairperson who favors lighter regulation—such as by overturning rule 506—could make it harder for state regulators to investigate private placement offerings that are believed to be fraudulent.
Alabama, Kansas and New Mexico are the only three states that allow their securities regulators to bring criminal cases against defendants. Regulators in other states work closely with prosecutors, state attorney generals and law enforcement to bring criminal charges against wrongdoers. They collectively reported a total of 253 enforcement actions that were taken in 2015. Many state-level regulators and financial law enforcement groups will be watching the Trump administration closely, to see what role they may need to fill in the wake of new appointments and decisions. (For related reading, see: Trump Vows to 'Dismantle' Dodd-Frank.)