A few minutes with Kurt Wilhelm, Director of the Financial Markets Group, the OCC

On Wednesday, April 25th the Roundtable will host its inaugural “Soup and Sandwich with a Regulator”, an opportunity for Roundtable members to discuss key topics with industry regulators. The first guest speaker in this monthly series will be Kurt Wilhelm, Director of the Financial Markets Group at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

We sat down quick with Kurt to ask a few questions:

1)      How did you land in your current regulatory position with the OCC? Have you ever worked in industry?

I have worked in both private industry and the government.  I began my career at the OCC in 1978, as a field examiner in Little Rock, Arkansas.  I transferred to Washington, as a field examiner in 1979.  I was commissioned a National Bank Examiner in 1983.  I left the OCC in 1985 to take a job in the Treasury Division at First American Bank, N.A., in Washington, DC.  I became the investment portfolio manager for the three-bank holding company (First American Metro Corp.).  First American had problems with commercial real estate in the early 1990s, and further had an unfortunate connection with BCCI, which had secretly acquired an ownership stake in the bank’s holding company.  I returned to the OCC in 1992, working in the Chief National Bank Examiner’s office.  

2)      On what section(s) of the Dodd-Frank Act is your department primarily working on?

My unit is actively involved in the Volcker rule (section 619), the legal lending limit (section 610), and swap margin rules (sections 731 and 764).

3)      What are some of the trends you are noticing in financial services?  

With interest rates so low, trading results are now disproportionately affected by net CVA gains/losses.  Banks are rebuilding capital coming out of the credit crisis by purchasing investment assets and riding the yield curve.  This is the traditional approach to rebuilding capital after a credit crisis and has been encouraged by the Federal Reserve, which has kept short-term rates very low.

4)      Please share an interesting piece of information about yourself.

I am the worst putter of anyone who plays golf regularly.  I am also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and also hold the FRM designation from GARP.

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