Under Trump’s SEC, Wall Street Secrecy Expands as Enforcement Shrinks

Jay Clayton, Donald Trump’s choice to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a man Wall Street itself might have picked to run its most important federal regulator. Except for two years clerking for a federal judge after graduating law school, he has worked his entire adult life at Sullivan & Cromwell, an elite law firm based in downtown Manhattan that includes many of the country’s largest publicly traded companies as clients.

Enforcement cases and fines have gone down since Clayton was sworn in last May, and the SEC has given Wall Street and corporate America any number of gifts, including the easing of public company disclosure requirements that some experts consider key for investors looking to understand a company. My colleague Gary Rivlin and I wrote about Clayton’s SEC for The Intercept. You can read our story here.

How Wall Street Silences Women

Among the business sectors largely absent from the current deluge of sexual harassment revelations is the financial services industry, a behemoth that employs 3.2 million people in the United States and is infamous for abuse and discrimination targeting women. In my story for The Intercept, I talk about women’s fate in finance and the reasons that most stay quiet. You can read it here.

Wall Street Wants to Kill the Agency Protecting Americans From Financial Scams

Donald Trump promised he would “do a number” on financial regulations, and it looks like he may finally get his wish fulfilled at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency, created by Dodd-Frank, has returned $11.9 billion to 29 million consumers in its short 5 1/2 year history.

Wall Street’s well-paid surrogates in Congress have been beating up the CFPB and its director, Richard Cordray, at every opportunity. But the CFPB nonetheless carried on with its task of cracking down on sleazy payday lenders and sneaky banks that charged for services that customers never got. Now, though, Cordray has said he’s resigning at the end of the month, giving Trump a chance to replace him. The president’s temporary pick, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, once said “I don’t like the fact that the CFPB exists.” You get the idea.

Gary Rivlin and I took a look at the agency’s accomplishments — and at its foes well-funded attacks — in a piece for The Intercept. You can read it here.

What Hollywood Could Learn from Wall Street’s Sexual-Harassment Reckoning


I spoke with The New Yorker about Wall Street, Hollywood, and the cycles of public interest in sexual harassment cases.

What Hollywood Could Learn from Wall Street’s Sexual-Harassment Reckoning


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For those wondering how the current wave of accusations might translate into lasting change and improvements for professional women, Wall Street’s history is instructive.

National Federation of Press Women Award

The National Federation of Press Women said that I’ve won first place for business writing in its 2017 National Communications Contest.

From the judges: “This writer goes beyond merely simplifying the facts in public documents: the writer shows knowledge and confidence in pressing federal prosecutors and the securities industry self-regulating body with tough questions; the writer shows that sow action against securities “scammers” has a human cost.”

You can read the winning stories about penny-stock scams here and here.

Financial Advisers Want to Rip off Small Investors. Trump Wants to Help Them Do It

ONE OF THE most important investor protections in decades took effect on June 9. The new rule, issued by the Department of Labor, sets in motion a seemingly commonsense requirement that those who advise on retirement investments must put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. Yet it marks a revolution in retirement security, the result of an epic seven-year battle between consumer advocates and the financial industry that sunk millions of dollars into white shoe lobbying firms, industry-sponsored studies, congressional campaign contributions, and major lawsuits in an effort to block the rule.

You can read my story about the DOL’s fiduciary rule in The Intercept here.

National Society of Newspaper Columnists Award

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists said I received its third place award  in its 2017 competition in the online commentary category for my columns for TheStreet.com.  From the judges: “Antilla’s sharp critiques of overlooked sins in the business world reveal the dysfunctional and villainy beyond the big stories that take hold during ever-briefer news cycles. Her careful research lays bare the institutional flaws and illuminates the direction the public’s attention should be pointed next.”

Who’s calling your broker for a wire transfer — out of your account?

Do you keep an eye on activity in your brokerage account? Well, you should. Criminals are figuring out clever ways to dupe your stockbroker into wiring money out of your account. It usually happens after someone has hacked your email account, so it’s not a bad idea to consider using two-factor authorization on your email. If that sounds like too much of a hassle, you might consider reading the story I wrote today for CNBC.com. You can read it here.

Women on Wall St. punished more severely than men for misdeeds

Gender discrimination on Wall Street is an issue even when it comes to punishing employees for misconduct.

Three finance professors said in a new research paper that although the average male financial advisor engages in three times more misconduct than female advisors, females are punished more severely and are less likely to find employment if they lose their jobs. You can read my story about it on CNBC.com here.

Sterling Jewelers Suit Casts Light on Wider Policies Hurting Women

Lawyers and academics who specialize in gender discrimination say the documents recently released in a class-action against Sterling Jewelers provide a rare insight into how a company’s policies work in real life. In my article in The New York Times today, I examine the problems with not-so-confidential tip lines and in-house courts run by employers, and the ways they can mask problems that women often face in the workplace. You can read it here.