SIFMA’s newest CEO, former senator Judd Gregg, relinquished his position at the industry lobby group on Thursday. No comprehensive explanation was given regarding the surprise move, but the decison fueled speculation Gregg may be gearing up for a Congressional run.
(REP. magazine named Gregg one of its Ten to Watch in 2014.)
Gregg, who was elected as CEO of SIFMA in May, will continue to act as a senior advisor to the organization. Kenneth E. Bentsen, currently serving as SIFMA’s president, will take over the CEO duties as well, effective immediately, according to a statement released by the group Thursday.
"My decision to step down as CEO of SIFMA does not in any way diminish my commitment to and involvement in promoting the critical role a vibrant capital markets system plays in helping Americans succeed and Main Street prosper but only reflects my personal need to spend less time commuting to Washington from New Hampshire and slowing a hectic schedule," Gregg said in the statement.
The statement stoked rumors that Gregg could be interested in the upcoming Senate race in his home state of New Hampshire. Adam Smith, communications director at Public Campaign, tweeted Thursday "Judd Gregg is leaving SIFMA after just 6 months Maybe we can get a Scott Brown/Judd Gregg
#NHSen primary: battle b/w Wall Street lobbyists." Others echoed Smith's sentiments in similar tweets.
Freshman democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen is up for re-election next year. Several Republicans have already expressed interest in the race, including former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Bob Smith and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
But Gregg nixed the idea when speaking exclusively to John DiStaso, the New Hampshire Union Leader's senior political writer, saying "Been there, done that," quoting his long-time friend, former President George H.W. Bush.
Gregg’s defection comes as a time when SIFMA was gearing up for a new broader investor-first initiative in an effort to help rebuild investors’ trust in financial services industry. Former chairman Chet Helck, a major force in developing the new initiative, has repeatedly said Gregg was a lynchpin in moving the program forward.
During remarks to the National Press Club last month, Gregg unveiled the first stage of this program, new SIFMA initiative called “Our Partnership With You.” The group designed the brochure to help educate investors on their rights and walks through ways to attain a successful relationship with a financial advisor.
SIFMA had also hoped to tackle the broad lack of financial literacy within the U.S. with this prgram. SIFMA was designing curricula to be used by financial advisors and teachers in schools, at club meetings, or within Boys and Girls Club programs. The impact of Gregg's departure as CEO on these projects is not immediately clear. A spokesman for the group was not immediately avialable for comment.
Updated Thursday, 4:40 p.m. to include additional information on Gregg's comments published by Union Leader.