5 Questions with … Michael Bright
As of January 2019, Michael Bright became the Structured Finance Industry Group’s (SFIG) new president and CEO. He will lead
SFIG’s education, policy, and advocacy initiatives, helping to achieve the group’s goal of building the broadest possible consensus among members across the industry, and reinforcing the understanding that securitization is an essential source of core funding for the real economy.
Coming off a successful SFIG Vegas, we were able to gather his thoughts on his new role and the latest conference.
1. Last month’s SFIG Vegas conference had record-setting attendance. Why do you think there was a surge this year?
There is a lot of energy around SFIG right now. The credit cycle has gone on for a long time, and that means, for a lot of folks, business has been good. But people are wondering “what’s around the corner?” I think the securitization industry is pretty well-prepared for a slowdown, but everyone is certainly doing their due diligence. Public policy remains a big question mark as well, and so members are engaged on that front, too. Finally, the industry is definitely interested to see what the future holds for our organization.
2. At the conference, you mentioned that housing reform is on the horizon yet still not set in stone. There have been many who have voiced recommendations for reform, including a proposal from one of your former posts at Milken. What recommendations are you leaning toward, especially from the securitization industry’s perspective?
Housing finance reform has so many difficult issues. Everyone should be concerned with questions such as how do we safely ensure that all communities have access to safe and decent housing, especially during a time of great demographic change? And, of course, what is the right role for the taxpayer? At SFIG, my job is to advocate for a system that can work through all business cycles and that, ideally, has clearly defined roles for the government and for private capital.
3. As the newly minted president of SFIG, what are your priorities for the coming year?
Making sure we are seen as a resource for policymakers and as a leader in our industry. If the securitization industry is willing to fully embrace and appreciate how essential its role in the economy is, and take that responsibility seriously, we can completely change the way financial services serve the real economy. And we can have very productive discussions with policy-makers along the way.
4. SFIG is uniquely positioned to weigh in on issues with a holistic viewpoint that is comprehensive of the secondary market. How might this be leveraged to make policy changes and improvements?
We need to both talk to and listen to policy-makers. Industry participants have one perspective, and they are responsible for a set of stakeholders. Policy-makers have an entirely different set of stakeholders. But, at the end of the day, voters and the people in the real economy that we serve are the same people. If we just work a bit more to understand that, we can better connect with the public and with policy-makers in Washington.
5. What do consumers and laypeople need to know about the securitization industry and what your members do?
That if we do our job well, we add tremendous value to the economy. Conversely, when we make mistakes, those mistakes have real consequences. We should hold ourselves accountable, in part so that others don’t have to.
Mr. Bright has extensive hands-on experience as a policymaker, practitioner and leader across all aspects of the securities industry. He joins SFIG from Ginnie Mae, where he was executive vice president and chief operating officer, managing all operations for Ginnie Mae’s $2.0 trillion portfolio of mortgage-backed securities. He brings a track record of policymaking achievement from his time on the staff of U.S. Senator Bob Corker and the Senate Banking Committee. Prior to joining Ginnie Mae in 2017, Mr. Bright was a director at the Milken Institute’s Center for Financial Markets, where he led the institute’s housing program. He was previously a member of BlackRock’s financial advisory unit.