New FDIC leader commits to community banker advisory council (with cheers from former chairman)

An advisory group focusing on community banks’ issues (made up of community bankers) will continue to work with the federal bank deposit insurance agency, according to the agency’s new chairman – a decision cheered by the agency’s former leader.

FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams addresses the agency’s Advisory Committee on Community Banking Wednesday.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Board Chairman Jelena McWilliams told the agency’s Advisory Committee on Community Banking Wednesday that she “looks forward to continuing with the committee,” in closing remarks to the group.

McWilliams, who took her seat at the head of the FDIC board table in May, told the group when the day-long session began that the Federal Reserve, during her tenure there, had a bank advisory council similar to the FDIC’s that “provided valuable perspective for the agency.”

“So I was pleased when I came to the FDIC to learn that we have a great focus here and great members of the council as well, and the feedback we get from you enables us to understand what is going on in your region and areas, and in the banking industry as a whole, and specifically with respect to banks,” she told the group.

McWilliams’ posture on the advisory group was cheered by former FDIC Chairman (and current board member) Martin Gruenberg, who also attended the session. He told the group that the continuation of the committee (started by his predecessor as chairman, Sheila Bair) is “a statement of the FDIC’s commitment to community banks.”

“For the committee to meet today under the leadership of our new chairman is really a very positive statement about the particular responsibility that the FDIC has as the federal supervisor for the majority of community banks in the United States,” Gruenberg said, adding, “I am really very pleased with the new chairman.”

The agency leadership’s position to maintain the advisory committee comes in the wake of recent realignment of advisory committees at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP, formerly known as the CFPB). Early last month, agency Acting Director John “Mick” Mulvaney announced his plan to “reconstitute and and reduce” the consumer, bank and credit union advisory panels to the bureau. The panels provide industry input and advice to the agency. Under Mulvaney’s approach, the groups will be reconstituted to “new, smaller memberships.”

“By both right-sizing its advisory councils and ramping up outreach to external groups, the Bureau will enhance its ability to hear from consumer, civil rights, and industry groups on a more regular basis,” the agency said in a blog post.