Sifma Names Gregg CEO to Mend Wall Street-Washington Divide

Judd Gregg, the former U.S. senator who has been an adviser to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., was named chief executive officer of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, Wall Street’s largest lobby group.

The selection of Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican who left the Senate in 2011, was announced by Sifma in a statement today.

“Our members provide the resource and expertise that make the economic engine of America work and create a more prosperous life for Americans,” Gregg, 66, said in the statement. “We are facing a great many challenges and I look forward to working with legislators and regulators together as we improve our economy and the lives of our citizens.”

In replacing Tim Ryan, who left Sifma for JPMorgan Chase & Co. this year, Gregg faces the task of rebuilding Wall Street’s credibility in Washington, after banks were blamed for causing the biggest financial crisis since the 1930s. In New York, at his first news conference as CEO, Gregg emphasized his desire to explain to the public Wall Street’s crucial role in the economy.

“There has been in the last few years this rise of populism which has basically not accepted the concept that capitalism, markets, profits and individual entrepreneurship are what give America prosperity,” Gregg said. “We need to reconnect on that issue.”

Split Position

Kenneth E. Bentsen, 53, who served as interim CEO after Ryan left, was named president of Sifma. In response to a question about why Sifma’s board split the top position after Ryan filled both roles, Gregg said he and Bentsen would play complimentary roles, though there has been no specific division of labor decided yet.

Gregg was New Hampshire’s governor before running for Senate in 1992. He was nominated by President Barack Obama to become U.S. commerce secretary in 2009 before withdrawing from consideration amid disagreements over policy.

Since retiring from Congress, he has been an adviser to New York-based Goldman Sachs and serves on the board of Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange Inc.

The Sifma job had been one of Washington’s highest-paid lobbying positions. Ryan earned $3 million in compensation and benefits in 2011, according to the trade group’s most recent tax filing.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.