WASHINGTON — Jelena McWilliams, the chief legal officer for Fifth Third Bancorp, will be nominated as the next chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the White House said late Thursday.
McWilliams' name surfaced months ago as the Trump administration's pick, but was not official until now.
Little is known about McWilliams' views on regulatory policy, but she was chief counsel for former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., between 2015 and 2017 and previously worked for current chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
From 2007 to 2010, McWilliams served as an attorney at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Sources describe her as extremely knowledgeable. As a Senate staffer, she was known to carry an annotated copy of the Dodd-Frank Act bound in a small book. At 43, some industry sources are hopeful she will be more open to recent innovations in the financial space.
McWilliams would succeed FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg, whose term expired this month. Gruenberg is eligible to remain on the FDIC board but has not yet said if he will retire once his successor as chair is confirmed.
Some bankers are hopeful McWilliams will steer the FDIC in a different direction on small-dollar loans. Fifth Third endorsed a plan proposed by the Pew Charitable Trusts to offer such loans, but it did not receive sign off from federal banking regulators.
McWilliams' nomination marks the third top banking regulator named by President Trump. Trump recently selected Federal Reserve Board Gov. Jerome Powell to chair the central bank, and his choice of comptroller of the currency, Joseph Otting, was sworn in this week at the agency.
The only remaining open top banking regulatory slot — the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — only became vacant last Friday, when Richard Cordray abruptly retired. Trump has picked Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as temporary head of the agency while he chooses a permanent successor, a move that has touched off a legal battle with Democrats, who argue recently designated Deputy Director Leandra English is legally the head of the consumer bureau.