Will an ICI-Adjacent SEC Vet Replace Grim?
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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Will an ICI-Adjacent SEC Vet Replace Grim?

Fundsters, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton may soon have a new chief to watch over you, one who is an SEC veteran with ETF expertise as well as a family connection with the ICI.

Dalia Blass
Ropes & Gray
Clayton "is poised to hire" attorney Dalia Blass of Ropes & Gray to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission's investment division, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal report. If appointed, Blass would succeed current division chief David Grim, one of the few SEC bigwigs who stayed on after the new administration came into the White House in January.

Meanwhile, another Blass, Dalia's husband David Blass, is joining law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett this month as a partner in its Washington, D.C. office. David Blass has spent the past three years at general counsel for the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the Washington, D.C.-based mutual fund industry trade group.

Dalia Blass, an alumna of Columbia and of American University, joined Ropes & Gray in September 2016 as counsel in the investment management practice after spending 12 years at the SEC. She also worked at Shearman and Sterling.

At the SEC, Dalia Blass eventually rose to assistant chief counsel for the investment management division and led the exemptive relief program for ETFs and other funds. The WSJ muses that Clayton's appointment of Dalia Blass "could signal Mr. Clayton's interest in loosening the reins on ETF providers." That could be good news for firms like Blue Tractor, Fidelity, and Legg Mason-backed Precidian, all of which have been working on new types of ETF or ETF-like structures designed to be friendlier to active managers.

"Dalia has extensive knowledge about the Division of Investment Management's work, particularly with respect to exchange-traded funds," Norm Champ, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis who was Grim's predecessor atop the SEC's investment management division, tells the WSJ. "She is widely recognized as a true expert in this area."

David Blass, a University of Alabama and Columbia alumnus, is also an SEC veteran who previously worked in the investment management division. He joined the ICI in 2014 after working at the SEC, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Grim, a Duke and George Washington alumnus, has worked at the SEC for his entire 22-year career. He rose to lead the investment management division in 2015 under then-Chair Mary Jo White after Champ's departure.

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