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Fund firms demand greater say in U.S. risk council designations

By Douwe Miedema

WASHINGTON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - A heavyweight coalition of asset managers demanded a greater say in future decisions by the top U.S. risk council that would subject them to tougher regulation, the groups said in a letter to the U.S. Treasury.

The groups asked that the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) change its rules by which it designates firms as "systemically important", a tag that subjects them to far tougher capital and risk management requirements.

The Treasury did not have an immediate comment.

Asset managers and insurance firms have been fighting the designations, saying it does not make sense to subject them to the same capital standards as the large Wall Street banks that were at the heart of the 2007-09 financial crisis.

In their petition, the groups said that FSOC's process by which it designates firms is opaque, asking the council - which is chaired by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew - to allow companies and their primary regulators to give more input.

At a meeting in July, FSOC said it was launching a review of risks in the asset management industry, but a source familiar with the council said it was unlikely to designate any firms as systemically important.

Instead, the review would focus on 'industry-wide products and activities'.

FSOC is considering whether to add insurance firm Metlife to a handful of other non-banks it has already identified as systemically important, but an expected vote on MetLife did not take place at the July meeting.

The other non-banks that have been designated are GE Capital , and insurance firms Prudential Financial Inc and American International Group.

The industry groups that signed the letter, which was dated Aug. 19, were the American Council of Life Insurers, the American Financial Services Association, the Association of Institutional Investors, the Financial Services Roundtable and the asset management group of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Bernard Orr)