After helping banks weather the financial crisis and oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Richard Neiman is expected to step down as New York banking superintendent in April.
Neiman, who has been at the department for four years while also serving on TARP's Congressional Oversight Panel for the past two, said it is time to move on.
"With the COP terminating April 3, it's a natural transition point," Neiman said in an interview.
But his public service may not end there. Although he declined to comment on the issue, Neiman is a top contender to be the next comptroller of the currency or possibly even head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"I cannot comment on the administration's process for appointments," Neiman said. "I'm going to be considering all options. I've loved the public sector, and I have always enjoyed my professional career in the private sector. There could not have been a more challenging and exciting time to be a financial regulator, and I think being a state regulator provided a very unique perspective."
Before joining the New York State Banking Department, Neiman was the chairman, president and chief executive of TD Bank USA. From 1994 to 2006 he was executive vice president and general counsel of TD Waterhouse Group. He also was vice president and counsel at Citigroup, including general counsel of its global equities group from 1979 to 1989. He began his career at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency where he was a special assistant to the chief counsel.
Neiman counts New York's passage of a mortgage reform law in 2008 and a servicing law a year later as two of his main accomplishments, saying he hopes they will serve as a model for national standards.
"When I joined in early 2007, being in a position to draft and implement legislative reforms with respect to mortgage underwriting and mortgage servicing led to the most comprehensive servicer regulations in the country," he said. "Our team's success resulted from identifying the problem, drafting and adopting reform legislation, implementing that law through regulations and now getting to see the beginning of results."
Neiman was also key in fighting for preemption changes in Dodd-Frank and maintaining the Federal Reserve Board's role in the supervision of state banks.
"There were proposals that could have really jeopardized the dual banking system and created a single monolithic regulator," he said. "Instead, Congress reaffirmed the dual banking system and retained examination authority for the Federal Reserve and the FDIC. As a result, that continues to provide the checks and balances for our system and a healthy role for state supervision.
But Neiman still sees difficulties for regulators and community banks. "The biggest challenge now will be the extent that regulators move to a more cooperative federalism," he said. "There are a number of parties now who are going to be participating, like the [Financial Stability Oversight Council] and the CFPB, and I think success will depend on the level of cooperation of the states and the federal agencies."
Neiman said that state banks also need to be prepared for more consolidation. "The challenges for state banks will continue to revolve around issues of consolidation," he said. "The fact that we continue to have our largest banks continue to grow and gain greater market share will put additional pressure on smaller banks with respect to their activities and further consolidation."