Doubts Raised about Qualifications of CFPB's Supervision Head

By Berry, Kate | American Banker, August 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

Doubts Raised about Qualifications of CFPB's Supervision Head


Berry, Kate, American Banker


Byline: Kate Berry

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's choice for its new head of supervision and enforcement -- the No. 3 slot at the agency -- is raising eyebrows because of his political background and relative inexperience compared with similar positions at other regulators.

Chris D'Angelo last month became the agency's associate director for supervision, enforcement and fair lending, beating out several experienced attorneys, including women and minorities, for the post.

D'Angelo, 37, was formerly the agency's chief of staff, a position he took three years ago after joining the bureau in 2011 as an enforcement attorney. He now heads the agency's largest department, overseeing roughly 700 lawyers and staff employees.

In an interview, D'Angelo said his focus is on continuity.

"We will continue to hold companies accountable when they break the law and harm consumers," he said. "I want to communicate the expectation of continuity ... and a push for companies to invest in compliance management systems to prevent harm in the market."

Yet some question whether D'Angelo has the right experience for the job.

"It's an unusual move to go from being chief of staff to head of enforcement, especially for somebody who doesn't have a deep background in that area," said Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University and a CFPB critic. "This really is an important role and it's one that at most [regulatory] agencies is held by an experienced lawyer or someone with decades of supervisory experience."

Many credit D'Angelo's quick rise to his close ties to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, for whom he spent two years working as a senior adviser.

"Chris's advantage is that Rich trusts him more than anyone else at the CFPB," said Ron Rubin, a former CFPB enforcement attorney and a former senior counsel and chief advisor for regulatory policy to the House Financial Services Committee.

Cordray said in a statement that D'Angelo has been part of the CFPB's core senior leadership team for three years.

"Chris will help the bureau implement those strategic priorities for supervision, enforcement, and fair lending, working with that division's excellent management team," Cordray said. "He was an integral part of creating and shaping the bureau's strategic vision."

In the interview, D'Angelo said that as chief of staff he oversaw the day-to-day management of the agency, working closely with senior leaders "to tackle big problems." He described the chief of staff job as "keeping the trains running."

Many who hold positions of similar stature at other bank regulators have more experience than D'Angelo.

Michael Gibson, the director of the Federal Reserve Board's division of banking supervision and regulation, is an economist who has been at the Fed for 24 years. Richard Ashton was promoted to deputy general counsel at the Fed in 2005 after having been at the central bank for nearly 30 years.

At the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Grace Dailey was appointed senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision policy and chief national bank examiner in May. She joined the OCC in 1983. Martin Pfinsgraff, the OCC's senior deputy comptroller for large bank supervision, has been in finance for more than 30 years, including serving as president and chief financial officer at Prudential Securities Capital Markets.

To be fair, some other top regulatory officials reached senior positions after relatively little time in Washington. Mark Pearce joined the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2010 as the head of the agency's then-new consumer compliance division. He had previously been a state banking regulator in North Carolina from 2006 to 2009, and before that was president of the Center for Responsible Lending.

But Doreen Eberley was named head of the FDIC's safety and soundness supervision wing after having been at the agency since 1987. …

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