Women filed a wave of lawsuits and arbitrations against financial firms in the 1990s and early 2000s, disgusted by a culture of rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The biggest cases of that era collectively drew thousands of participants in class actions and led to large settlements including $150 million against Smith Barney and $250 million against Merrill Lynch.
At a time when the long-term consequences of #MeToo on women’s careers is an open questions, I looked at court records, tracked down plaintiffs and spoke with a dozen employment lawyers to see how things had turned out for the women — and how things had turned out for the men who allegedly harassed them. My findings were sobering. You can read my story today for The Intercept here.
I was honored to hear today that The Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, known as Sabew, awarded me an honorable mention in its “Best in Business” competition in the investigative reporting category. My story, “Finra’s Black Hole,” looked at 30 years of brokerage industry arbitration records to see how women fared when they filed complaints about sexual harassment and gender discrimination. (Answer: Not very well). You can read my story here.
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.
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.