Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Kelly said Wednesday that the company has told the Federal Reserve it wants to pay a higher dividend and wants to return shareholders' capital through material share repurchases as well.

But speaking at the Goldman Sachs U.S. financial services conference in New York, Kelly said it remains unclear how high a dividend rate the regulators will allow.

"We would like it to go higher," Kelly said of the bank's 15% dividend payout rate, before adding, "it's not clear to us the industry can go really higher at this point, so that remains to be seen."

BNY Mellon currently pays a dividend of 9 cents a quarter, after paying 24 cents a quarter as recently as January 2009.

Kelly said it is likely the bank would have a bigger opportunity to return capital via share buyback programs, which he called a "much bigger priority" and would amount to a "material number."

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