In first remarks, new FDIC chair outlines agenda

Will hold 'listening tour, calls for 'transparent, accountable' agency

The new leader of the federal insurer of bank deposits will go on a five-year “listening” tour to determine the impact and future of the agency’s regulatory regime, she said in her first public comments Tuesday.

FDIC’s Jelena McWilliams (right) participates in ‘fireside chat,’ her first public remarks as agency chief

Speaking in a “fireside chat with the FDIC Chairman” at the Prudential Regulation Conference in Washington (sponsored by SIFMA and The Clearing House), Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Board Chairman Jelena McWilliams said her “chairman’s listening tour” would visit all states over the next five years. She said she intends to speak to banks, thrifts and other regulated entities – as well as consumers – during the trek.

Her tour, she indicated, is prompted by a desire for a more frequent review of agency rules. She said that the 10-year review of FDIC-regulated entities under federal law (mandated by the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996, EGRPRA) is “not enough.”

She told the group that the more transparent and accountable FDIC can be, the more “forthcoming and genuine” its regulated entities can be with the agency.

But she indicated she does plan to practice oversight of the industry. “You don’t want banks to be able to do just about anything,” she said. However, she voiced optimism in her approach. “I’ve never met a banker who said, ‘I actually want to be a bad banker. I really want to harm my consumers,’ ” she said.

McWilliams – nominated by President Donald Trump in December, confirmed by the Senate May 24 and sworn in June 5 – was making her first public appearance and comments as FDIC Board chairman.

In other comments, McWilliams discussed reopening rules, bringing a “fresh eye” to interagency rules under consideration, marijuana banking, de novo charters, and revisiting the CAMELS examination scoring system.