“Private funds that have been counting on getting unfettered access to people’s retirement account should begin rethinking their strategy,” Ms. Roper said.
The Biden campaign does not permit members of the agency review teams to talk to the media, so it is difficult to know what they are thinking and planning. But it is clear that their ability to affect immediate change in financial regulation could be constrained by a last-minute push by Republicans to get two remaining Trump nominees onto the Federal Reserve Board.
Senate Republicans made clear on Thursday that they will try to confirm the pair, Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller, before Mr. Trump leaves office. If both are approved, which appears likely, Mr. Trump will have filled six of the seven seats on the powerful Fed board, locking in a conservative majority that could last for years and potentially pave the way for a continuation of lighter-touch financial oversight.
While the Fed may be best known for setting interest rates — a largely nonpartisan exercise — it is also among the most powerful financial regulators. And while monetary policy votes are shared with the Fed’s regional banks, only board members have votes on the rules that govern the largest banks.
There will be limitations on what a Republican-heavy Fed can accomplish on its own. Many of the more important bank restrictions — like tweaks to the Volcker Rule, which prevents banks from betting with their own money — have historically been made on a cross-agency basis.
Jelena McWilliams, whom Mr. Trump appointed chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, has signaled that she plans to serve out her full term, which does not end until 2023. But Mr. Biden will be able to replace the acting comptroller of the currency quickly and is expected to do so, and other important roles, like Treasury secretary and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are likely to go swiftly to Democrats.
That is why the industry is attuned to who is on the agency review teams, which could set the tone for what is coming.
“It will be a significant change in the orientation of financial regulation if these people are going to be the ones writing the policies,” said Christopher E. Campbell, assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial institutions from 2017-18. “From my perspective, the landing teams were folks that appeared to be more activist than centrist.”