D.C. Lawyer Blass to Head SEC Division Regulating Mutual Funds

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By Andrew Ramonas

Ropes & Gray attorney Dalia Blass will head the SEC Division of Investment Management, which regulates mutual and exchange-traded funds and investment advisers, the agency said Aug. 31.

The same day, the Securities and Exchange Commission named American University finance professor Jeffrey Harris chief economist and director of the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis, and Chairman Jay Clayton tapped seven individuals for his executive staff.

Blass, who is counsel in Ropes & Gray’s Washington office, formerly was an assistant chief counsel in the division. According to her law firm biography, she focuses on advising investment companies on SEC regulatory and compliance issues, with a particular emphasis on exchange-traded funds and new investment products.

Ropes & Gray represented the Winklevoss twins in their failed bid for an exemption that would have allowed their ETF based on bitcoin to trade on the Bats BZX Exchange.

Blass will succeed David Grim, the last full-fledged division chief installed by a Barack Obama appointee. She is married to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP partner David Blass. He stepped down earlier this year as general counsel of the Investment Company Institute, a trade group for mutual funds and ETFs. David Blass also served in several senior roles at the SEC.

Ex-CFTC Economist

Harris is the Gary D. Cohn Goldman Sachs Chair in Finance at AU’s Kogod School of Business and chair of the Department of Finance and Real Estate. He previously served as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission‘s chief economist, and as a visiting academic at the Nasdaq Stock Market and the SEC. Harris has “an extensive background in market microstructure and regulatory issues,” according to his biography on the AU website.

Harris succeeds Mark Flannery, who left the commission late last year to return to his professorship at the University of Florida’s business school. Deputy Chief Economist Scott Bauguess has been serving as acting chief and DERA head.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Ramonas in Washington at aramonas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at pdiamond@bna.com

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