Regarded in many circles as the dean of banking consultants, Carter H. Golembe, the longtime author of a popular monthly analytical essay on financial services public policy, died Saturday at his home in Delray Beach, Fla. He was 86.
Golembe, an economic historian whose long banking industry career began at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 1951, was remembered by friends, family and colleagues on Monday as an irreverent, thought-provoking, walking encyclopedia on banking history. Golembe, who authored The Golembe Reports, believed in removing artificial constraints on growth and innovation in commercial banking and was an outspoken advocate of the dual banking system.
"He was a real intellectual. He had a love for the banking business and the appropriate regulation thereof, and it was all consuming for him. It was his career and his hobby," said Philip C. Meyer, a friend and colleague of Golembe's for more than 40 years, who worked with him on The Golembe Reports and was the editor of Golembe's 2009 autobiography, "But I Never Made a Loan: My Career in Banking — the Early Years."
Golembe joined the FDIC as an economist, and served a stint as a staffer under former Sen. Wallace Bennett, R-Utah, before returning to the FDIC. In 1960 he was chosen to help start up the American Bankers Association's Washington office as a deputy manager, where he worked in research and led a state banking division.
In 1967, he started Carter H. Golembe & Associates, which became a leading banking consultancy firm well known for the monthly Golembe Reports, which tackled a range of issues, including deposit insurance reform, capital requirements, interstate branching and questions around appropriate regulation.
In 1989, Golembe joined the Secura Group and eventually served as its chairman. He later became the president of CHG Consulting Inc. in Delray Beach, Fla.
He wrote two textbooks on banking regulation, taught several graduate classes on the topic and founded the International Financial Conference, an education corporation dedicated to multinational banking and financial issues. He served for 10 years on the board of Barnett Banks of Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., becoming chairman of the audit committee.
Golembe's son Greg, a senior adviser for banking regulation with Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, recalled his father's sense of humor and the fact that he enjoyed provocative policy debates.
"One of his favorite expressions was always be respectful yet irreverent on any issue," he said.
While Golembe was known as an advocate of the dual banking system and a supporter of state banks in particular, he eventually concluded that system was in jeopardy, his son said.
"If you read his later works, he pretty much says dual banking was dead," Greg Golembe said.
Golembe said his father opposed changes in law that he felt handed more power to the FDIC.
"He always said, ‘If I were a state bank commissioner I'd kick the FDIC out of my banks. If you really want to have a state system then the states ought to be running [banks] and examining them, but what has happened is the FDIC does the majority of the exams,' " Greg Golembe said.
John D. Hawke Jr., a former comptroller of the currency, who first met Golembe over a merger deal in the 1960s, said Golembe was one of the most respected people in the banking industry.
"He was a very wise man," Hawke said. "He had good solid views. He worked hard at things. He spent a lot of time on his writing and research. He knew an awful lot of people. He had a very clear vision and as a consultant to the industry, he knew what made people at the various regulatory agencies tick, so he was able to give very sophisticated advice."
In a 1998 interview with a Federal Reserve official, Golembe was asked if he considered himself a populist.
"I don't know how to characterize myself — probably as an irreverent conservative who takes a particular delight in history," he answered.
Golembe is survived by his wife Patricia, sons Greg and Christopher, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.