WASHINGTON -- Paul L. Sachtleben is going high-tech with compliance exams.
As director of the new division of compliance and consumer affairs at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., he has made it his mission to bring computer technology to the art of ferreting out lending bias at banks.
A software package, developed by an outside vendor, will be tested in 10 banks next month. By May, Mr. Sachtleben said, the program will be part of every FDIC compliance exam.
The new software fits in nicely with Mr. Sachtleben's goal of shaking things up at the agency every once in a while.
"We have to constantly look at what we do so it doesn't get stale," said the 47-year-old Mr. Sachtleben.
Creation of the division four months ago was part of the agency's effort to reinforce its commitment to consumer compliance.
"In the '80s and '90s, supervision's main job was to deal with bank failures," Mr. Sachtleben said. "Now, we're devoting our time to compliance."
The new division is the only growth area left at the FDIC. It has 500 employees, with 18 more to be hired soon. Mr. Sachtleben left his post as deputy director of the FDIC's resolutions division to take this job. Janice M. Smith, former head of the consumer affairs office, was named associate director.
Mr. Sachtleben plans to change compliance exams in other ways, too. He said he wants examiners to spend less time in banks. The software will help, he said, because analysis can be done in a field office instead of the institution.
Extending the exam cycle is also on his agenda. Banks with either of the top two Community Reinvestment Act ratings may see exams every three years instead of every two, Mr. Sachtleben said. The top banks don't easily fall into noncompliance, he said.
"If a bank has the right Truth-in-Lending forms and doesn't change management, its compliance probably doesn't change much," Mr. Sachtleben said.
If exams are going to change, training is not far behind. The major training problem the new division will address is inconsistency in the way different types of examiners look at the same bank.
Currently, he said, it is entirely possible that the same community reinvestment loan could be criticized by one examiner but applauded by another. "It's important that compliance staff and safety and soundness staff speak with one voice to the banker," Mr. Sachtleben said.
The solution, he said, is better training.
But Mr. Sachtleben, who started his career in 1969 as an FDIC examiner and has a strong safety and soundness background, said his division would make no concession involving an institution's health.
"We are still the deposit insurer," he said, "and safety and soundness is important."
A personal project of Mr. Sachtleben's is to become expert on fair lending and CRA. Right after he got his job, Mr. Sachtleben took off on a 25th-anniversary trip to Europe with his wife.
He said he brought the CRA reform proposal with him.