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SIFMA said to cut fees for Wall Street banks

Wall Street banks that pay millions of dollars a year to lobby Washington policy makers are getting a break from their top trade group.

SIFMA has agreed to trim costs for its biggest members by capping annual fees at about $1.75 million, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley will be among the beneficiaries, one of the people said.

Banks executives have been demanding more accountability from their trade associations even as the industry has won some regulatory relief during the Trump administration. SIFMA’s decision to cap dues was driven by the biggest banks, which have long complained about paying the highest tabs among the group’s hundreds of members, the people said.

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SIFMA recently hired consulting firm Oliver Wyman to help streamline its activities, the people said. The lobby group is trying to shave several million dollars from its budget and is preparing for a round of layoffs, according to the people who asked not to be named discussing internal matters. SIFMA members paid $43.8 million in dues for the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2017, according to public tax documents.

"We regularly review our operations to ensure we run as efficiently as possible and will continue to do so while maintaining full issue coverage,” SIFMA spokeswoman Cheryl Crispen said in a statement. She declined to comment on whether the group is cutting staff or dues for its largest members.

SIFMA President Kenneth Bentsen announced that Randy Snook, executive vice president for business policies and practices, was leaving to join the Federal Home Loan Banks Office of Finance. His compensation was more than $1 million for the last fiscal year, the tax documents showed.

Bloomberg, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is an associate member of SIFMA