BUSINESS
04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sign Of The Times: Wall Street Group Moves Conference From Vegas to D.C.

So long gambling, hello lobbying.

In yet another sign of how important Washington has become to the financial industry, one of Wall Street's top trade groups is hosting its annual conference in the nation's capital this week after treating traders, bankers and investors to retreats in Las Vegas for the past four years.

More than 4,200 people are expected to attend the American Securitization Forum's annual conference. With the rules governing Wall Street being rewritten on Capitol Hill and in offices all over Washington, this year's attendees at ASF 2010 are counting on being able rub elbows with policymakers.

"Never before has the future of securitization depended so greatly on the decisions which will be made this year in this city," said Ralph C. Daloisio, chair of the American Securitization Forum (ASF) and managing director at Natixis, a French bank. "Importantly, we have the highest turnout ever of regulators, government officials, and policymakers."

About 250 policymakers from Capitol Hill, the bank regulatory agencies and the Obama administration are expected to attend the conference, Jon Teall, a spokesman for the event, said in a statement. It's about double the number of regulators who attended last year's conference, he added.

"The ASF chose Washington because regulators and legislators are in the midst of rewriting policies and legislation. The ASF wanted to be able to interact and share ideas with these policymakers," Teall said.

With regulators and policymakers often said to be at least two steps behind the industry, the heavy government presence could be a good thing: the more interaction with industry leaders and market participants, the more policymakers can learn and be better equipped to effectively reform the nation's broken financial system and regulatory structure.

Or, it's another opportunity for regulators to become even more friendly with those they're supposed to be regulating -- a charge leveled at regulators by those who blame them for missing the build-up to the crisis.

As Daloisio told attendees Monday morning, "I hope you will each make the most of your time here to engage one another and the issues we must resolve to help move our financial system and our economy forward again."

*The original version of this story mistakenly reported that this year's conference attendance set a record. It did not.