In moving from regulator to in-house counsel at Bank of America, Cynthia Fornelli is navigating the very rigorous regulatory environment she helped to create at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Fornelli, the former deputy director of the agency's division of investment management, stepped down from the SEC last August to join the Charlotte-based firm after six years of service.
Recently, she spoke to the Charlotte Business Journal about her transition to the newly created position of securities regulation and conflicts management executive at the nation's third-largest bank.
"My last year at the commission was as intense and as prolific as the previous four all put together," she told the Journal. "It was time, I thought, for me to go out and actually do it. I do feel strongly about that, that it's important to eat your own cooking."
At Bank of America, Fornelli is responsible for examining issues or practices that could pose problems as the bank develops and cross-sells products to clients across the franchise, according to the report.
"We always knew it was going to impact the industry very hard, but now that I'm living it, I don't know that we appreciated quite how hard," she said.
Roughly 120 Bank of America employees report to Fornelli, most of whom work in securities regulation including areas such as licensing and registration, investment monitoring and the control room.
Her focus has been mainly on Bank of America's global capital markets and investment banking segment as well as the global wealth and investment management unit. Combined, the two businesses have more than 19,000 employees.
Fornelli said her role is to look "inbetween the seams" of the bank's divisions to ensure no regulations are violated as the bank pursues those opportunities. In February, Bank of America completed a $515 million settlement with the SEC over market timing and late trading in mutual funds at Bank of America and FleetBoston Financial.
The banks reached a separate settlement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to reduce the fees they charge investors by $160 million over a five-year period, pegging the total settlement number at $675 million.