McDonough School of Business
Psaros Center Convenes Leading Finance and Policy Experts at FMQ Conference
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Psaros Center Convenes Leading Finance and Policy Experts at FMQ Conference

More than 20 industry experts shared their expertise on market structure, ESG, digital assets, cryptocurrency legislation, and regulatory and policy issues at the annual Financial Markets Quality Conference hosted by the Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

“At the McDonough School of Business, we see business as an answer, perhaps the best answer to solving the world’s economic and social problems,” said Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair of the McDonough School of Business. “It is so important that McDonough brings together the best minds and hearts in business and policy, along with the people who are going to most change our future – our students – to discuss important issues and help us create a path forward.” 

The conference began with a fireside chat with Gary Gensler, chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, moderated by Reena Aggarwal, the Robert E. McDonough professor of finance and director of the Psaros Center. During the fireside chat, Aggarwal and Gensler discussed market structure, payment for order flow, and the SEC’s mission to protect investors while facilitating capital formation and preserving fair, orderly, competitive, and efficient markets. 

This year’s conference featured a number of fireside chats, including a conversation with Schwimmer, which was moderated by Gillian Tett, chair of the editorial board and editor-at-large, US, of the Financial Times. The session covered the current financial crisis in the United Kingdom and the differences between the regulatory framework in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

“Financial market plumbing is like real-world plumbing. You ignore when it works well, but when things get messy, attention is given to the details,” Tett said.

The fireside chat was followed by panel discussions on market structure and ESG and climate disclosure, which explored global regulatory fragmentation, the need to balance regulation and innovation, and whether ESG should be considered as an umbrella concept or should its constituent parts be disaggregated.

The conference also featured a discussion with Rostin Behnam (C’00), chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, about the current state of the markets from a CFTC regulatory perspective and some of his priorities over the next several years. 

“Data is a huge part of market structure and market environments right now, and I think as a regulator we always feel a step or two behind. We need to modernize our data infrastructure and start to think about machine learning and AI and data analytics as a tool for surveillance, enforcement, and market oversight,” Behnam said.

The conference closed with a discussion with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) surrounding cryptocurrency legislation. Timothy Massad, former chair U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, moderated the discussion.

Lummis said that she and Gillibrand were trying to find the “sweet spot between allowing innovation to occur in this country, but having adequate consumer protections and a well understood framework of regulation” in their legislation.

“We need to create basic rules of the road so that consumers know what is safe and what’s not safe. Right now, there’s no regulation or very little regulation, so people may go into these industries not knowing anything, and they might not have the advice and guidance from a professional of what they’re doing, and they might lose money,” Gillibrand said.

Other notable speakers at the event included Robert Cook, president and CEO of FINRA; Brian Schroder, CEO of Binance U.S.; Susan Friedman (L’04), head of policy at Ripple; Christy Goldsmith Romero, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and Mark Uyeda (B’92), a commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Reena Aggarwal and Michael Psaros (B’89) at the 2022 FMQ Conference

The 2022 FMQ Conference was the first conference hosted by the Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy after it was recently renamed earlier this year, thanks to a generous contribution from Michael (B’89) and Robin Psaros and their family.

The Psaros Center was founded in the wake of the 2008 Financial crisis when there was a “leadership void” in the area of finance, said Reena Aggarwal, professor of finance and the center’s founding director, during her introductory address.

In the early years after the center was established, Georgetown hosted its first annual FMQ Conference to discuss issues such as the Dodd-Frank Act; systemically important financial institutions, and featured then-White House National Economic Advisor Larry Summers. As the financial world evolves, FMQ has introduced new topics such as cryptocurrency and ESG investing to the agenda.

“I’m in awe of the center’s accomplishments in the first decade,” said Michael Psaros, co-founder and managing partner of KPS Capital Partners. “Funding the center was not an act of philanthropy, this was an act of patriotism. The Psaros Center is the only non-partisan, totally objective, financial center in Washington, D.C., and probably this country, to have discussion, discourse, debate about matters around policy that affect all Americans and the world.”

Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy