Trump Advisers Weigh Picks for Fed Community Banker Seat, Sources SayBy
Texas woman who helped start lender among those interviewed
Incoming president will get to pick two central bank governors
Donald Trump’s advisers are considering a Texas woman who started a bank with her husband, a former regulator and a sitting congressman to fill a Federal Reserve Board seat set aside for a community banker, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Cynthia Blankenship, chairman of Grapevine, Texas-based Bank of the West and MainStreet Bancshares Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Dick have had meetings with the incoming president’s team, said the people, who asked that they not be named because the discussions are private. Republican Representative French Hill of Arkansas is also being considered, the people said.
Trump, who will take office with two openings to fill on the Fed board, hasn’t yet announced his plans and there’s no guarantee any of the interviewed candidates will be hired. The discussions have included multiple conversations with Trump’s advisers and filling out a detailed questionnaire, the people have said.
Blankenship declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Hill. Dick hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Fed governors are selected by the president and subject to Senate confirmation. Under a 2014 law, one seat is designated to be filled by someone with community bank experience. The other nomination could go to Trump’s choice for vice chairman of supervision, a high-profile job that has gone unfilled during the Obama administration.
Banks are keenly focused on Trump’s picks for the Fed, but especially on who gets the supervision post. The governor in that role could have major influence on whether Wall Street banks succeed in dialing-back Dodd-Frank Act rules that they say have stunted economic growth.
Hill also has been considered for vice chairman of supervision, according to the people. Other candidates for that post include David Nason, who worked for the Treasury Department during the 2008 financial crisis and is now CEO of GE Energy Financial Services Inc., as Bloomberg previously reported. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig, a former Federal Reserve Bank president, also has been discussed. Trump’s advisers have also consulted with bankers including John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T Corp., as they consider Fed positions.
Blankenship is vice chairman and chief financial officer of Bank of the West in Texas, where she’s worked since 1985. She also has served as a director of the Independent Community Bankers of America and has frequently represented the bank and the industry group’s interests in Washington, including by testifying at hearings on Capitol Hill.
MainStreet Bank’s Dick has worked at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and has been an adviser to the U.K. Financial Services Authority. His bank has five branches in northern Virginia and $376 million in assets, according to its website.
While the Fed board traditionally has had a community banker or supervisor, that role hasn’t been filled since Governor Elizabeth Duke retired in August 2013. President Barack Obama’s pick for a community bank, Allan Landon, former chief executive officer of Bank of Hawaii Corp., was never confirmed by the Senate.
The Fed is under pressure to increase diversity among its leaders after criticism that it is dominated by white men. Janet Yellen, the first woman to chair the central bank, has said she’d like to see more diversity.
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