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Robert Nichols is the President and CEO of the Financial Services Forum, a position he has held since June 2005. As President and CEO, Nichols supervises all activities of the organization. Working with the member institutions, Nichols provides strategic leadership and coordinates the Forum's efforts to educate the public about the importance of robust capital markets, encourage a competitive global marketplace, and shape the national and international regulatory dialogue.
Recently cited as, "Perhaps the country's most powerful trade association," by Time, the Financial Services Forum is a non-partisan financial and economic policy organization comprising the chief executive officers of 18 of the largest and most diversified financial institutions with business operations in the United States. As a group, the Forum’s member institutions employ more than 2 million people in 175 countries and hold combined assets of more than $21 trillion – an amount greater than the annual economic output of the United States, China and the United Kingdom combined. The Forum works to promote policies that encourage savings and investment, a competitive global marketplace, and ensure the opportunity of people everywhere to participate fully and productively in the 21st-century global economy.
Before joining the Forum, Nichols was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs, a position requiring confirmation by the United States Senate. In that capacity, Nichols oversaw all public affairs efforts for a $12 billion federal agency with 117,000 employees and played a leading role in educating the American people about tax and currency policy, debt management, Social Security and Medicare financing, the U.S. government's strategy to freeze terrorists' assets and restrict the flow of money that enables terror, and a host of international and emerging market issues that impact the U.S. economy. As assistant secretary, Nichols established policies for administering public affairs, business affairs, consumer affairs, and intergovernmental affairs programs in the Treasury Department and its bureaus. Nichols also oversaw the Office of Public Liaison, which conducts outreach to business, advocacy, and financial communities, including Wall Street; elicits information, analysis, and opinions from public and private organizations representing business and consumer interests; and communicates Treasury Department views to these entities. During his four and a half year tenure at the Treasury, Nichols gained a rich understanding of the financial markets, the financial services industry, and a wide breadth of economic matters. Nichols is a recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award, the highest honor of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Before joining the Department of the Treasury, Nichols’ career highlights included service as communications director for the Electronic Industries Alliance, a trade organization that represents 1300 U.S. high-technology manufacturers; as a senior aide on Capitol Hill as Communications Director to U.S. Senator Slade Gorton and Press Secretary to Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, former member of the House leadership; and in the West Wing as an aide in the Office of the Chief of Staff in the George H.W. Bush administration.
In 2008 Nichols officially gave $53,686 in campaign finances to various groups, organizations and candidates.
Press Mentions and Honors
Nichols is frequently cited by the news media on capital markets and financial services issues. He is regularly quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and frequently appears on CNBC, Fox Business Network and Bloomberg. He has testified on several occasions before the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, two key Congressional committees that oversee the financial services industry.
In 2011, 2010 and 2009, Nichols was recognized by The Hill newspaper as one of the most effective trade association leaders in Washington, D.C. The New York Times called Nichols "among the most powerful lobbyists in Washington," in 2011. In November 2011, Nichols was included on The New Republic's list of Washington's most powerful, least famous people. In 2010, CEO UPDATE also named Nichols one of the year’s top trade association leaders.
Nichols was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs for the U.S. on August 6, 2003. He was nominated for the position by President George W. Bush on April 10, 2003, was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 1, and sworn in by Treasury Secretary John Snow on August 6.
Many of the CEOs Nichols represents have been criticized in Congress for contributing to the 2008-2009 financial crisis and economic recession. Eight of these CEOs have had to defend their business practices before angry lawmakers in congressional testimony.
- Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Treasury (Jan. 2003-May 2005)
- Deputy Asst. Sec. for Public Affairs, Treasury (March 2001 - Dec. 2002)
- Director of communications, Electronic Industries Association (Jan. 2000 - Feb. 2001)
- Communications director; Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.)(March 1998 - Dec. 1999)
- Press secretary; Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.), (March 1996 - February 1998)
- Political director, Washington Republican Party (Jan. 1995 - Feb. 1996)
- Campaign manager, Jennifer Dunn (Feb. 1994 - Dec. 1994)
- Personal aide to the secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation (Feb. 1992 - Jan. 1993)
- Assistant to Task Force Chairman, Andrew Card, Presidential Task Force on Hurricane Andrew (Aug. 1992 - Nov. 1992)
- Staff assistant, Office of the Chief of Staff, the White House (July 1991 - Feb. 1992).
Nichols was born on January 3, 1969, in Camden, New Jersey; He graduated from George Washington University with a BA in political science in 1991. He is a Sigma Alpha Epsilon Alumni Association member Nichols is a Presbyterian and is currently married to Rebecca Nichols; together they have two children. Nichols is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Presbyterian School.
- "Top Lobbyists: Associations". The Hill. October 12, 2011.
- "A Mobilization in Washington by Wall Street". New York Times. July 30, 2011.
- The Editors (2011-11-03). "Washington's Most Powerful, Least Famous People". The New Republic. Retrieved 2011-10-25.