Legislation to Create New Financial Services Advisory Council Draws Industry Leaders to Beacon Hill

Supporters of legislation to create a new Massachusetts Financial Services Advisory Council testified at a State House hearing Thursday, urging legislators to adopt the bill designed to provide a stronger voice and improved policy coordination for the state’s critical financial sector. (Click here for the full testimony)

“The story of Massachusetts’ financial services industry is one of extraordinary economic and civic leadership,” said Paul Guzzi, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “Whether through job creation, economic activity, state and local tax revenue, or civic and philanthropic engagement, this is an industry that contributes immeasurably to our state and our communities. Yet we face growing domestic and international competition for these jobs and activities. A coordinated and collaborative strategy for long-term growth and competitiveness will be essential to ensuring that Massachusetts remains the global financial services center it is today.”

The proposed Massachusetts Financial Services Advisory Council would work to promote the growth, competitiveness, and leadership of the region’s financial services industry. It would consist of 17 members from state government and industry, and would be chaired by the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development. The shared priorities on which the Council’s government and industry leaders would focus include:

• Legislative & Regulatory Issues
• Workforce Development & Skills Training
• International Trade & Direct Foreign Investment
• Industry Marketing & Promotion

Jobs, Economic Activity & Tax Revenue

“The financial services industry remains a cornerstone of the state’s economy,” said Tracey Flaherty, Senior Vice President, Government Relations at Natixis Global Asset Management. “Supporting hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs across a range of skill levels, generating the economic activity and tax revenues to help bolster local and state budgets, and providing the capital necessary to fuel our innovation economy – this is an industry that we must nurture and grow.”

Civic & Philanthropic Leadership
“Massachusetts’ financial services firms and their employees are the embodiment of the adage ‘doing well by doing good’,” said James D. Gallagher, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer at John Hancock Financial. “They provide the financial support and volunteerism needed to sustain and expand the impact of countless charitable and philanthropic organizations. They spearhead efforts to strengthen our public education system, improve financial literacy among our residents, expand job training and employment opportunities for our workforce, and reinvest in our communities. This is an industry that is truly leading the way in terms of civic leadership and corporate responsibility.”

Establishing an Industry Cluster

“Massachusetts’ unique portfolio of financial services business has earned a strong reputation among global financial centers,” said Edward H. Ladd, Chairman Emeritus at Standish Mellon Asset Management. “However, it is also a diverse industry that lacks a clear strategy for long-term growth and, historically, has not operated as a classic industry ‘cluster’. We, as an industry and as a state, must seize the opportunity before us to develop a clear and collaborative strategy for long-term growth – a strategy that capitalizes on our favorable reputation and establishes a true, global industry cluster.”

Public-Private Partnerships Essential to Growth

“Massachusetts’ financial service firms are aggressively courted by our competitor states and nations to relocate existing operations and jobs and to capture future growth and investment,” added Paul Guzzi. “A key selling point in nearly all of these jurisdictions is the existence of a strong partnership between government and industry leaders. The creation of a public-private, financial services council in Massachusetts could help advance a clear, cohesive strategy for sustaining and growing a global financial services industry cluster in Massachusetts.”

Today’s hearing featured testimony from Jim Klocke, Executive Vice President at the Greater Boston Chamber; Tracey E. Flaherty, Senior Vice President, Government Relations at Natixis Global Asset Management; James D. Gallagher, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Administrative Officer at John Hancock Financial; and Linda Watters, Vice President, Government Relations at John Hancock Life Insurance Company.

An Act to Create a Massachusetts Financial Services Advisory Council, Senate, No. 189, was sponsored by Sen. Anthony Petruccelli (D-East Boston), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services. The bill requires the Council to convene a minimum of three meetings per calendar year to exchange ideas and develop strategies that leverage existing government resources, personnel, and infrastructure to strengthen and advance each of its key areas of focus. The bill also requires the Council to maintain a public website, to provide information and updates from council meetings, working groups, and related initiatives. The Chamber estimates that the Council will not require public funding or resources, beyond the costs associated with creating and maintaining the website.

 VIDEO: Chamber EVP Jim Klocke summarizes the testimony