Illinois may be the next state to combine all its financial services companies under one regulator.
Gov.-elect George Ryan proposed during his campaign that the state create an umbrella agency to oversee banks, insurance agencies, credit unions, and securities firms. His logic: Many financial services firms are already in each other's businesses and would be best supervised by one commissioner.
Mr. Ryan, the Illinois secretary of state, takes office next month. He has appointed a 33-member transition committee that will recommend whether to proceed with proposal. The committee is made up of representatives from throughout the financial services industry.
"The governor-elect wants to take industry input into consideration," said Scott D. Clarke, deputy commissioner of banks and real estate. "He wants to make sure it's a good system."
The proposal, however, is not popular among bankers.
"I don't think bankers want to share a regulator," said David E. Manning, director of governmental relations for the Community Bankers Association of Illinois. "My sense is the feedback to the committee won't be positive."
Jeffrey J. Rodman, executive vice president of the Illinois Bankers Association, agreed.
"We're willing to look at a final proposal, but we're not very excited about it," he said.
Talk of an umbrella agency comes as the current banking commissioner, Jack Schaffer, is set to step down. Mr. Schaffer could not be reached for comment, but sources said he is expected to leave his post in January or February for personal reasons-not in reaction to Mr. Ryan's proposal.
If the governor-elect's plan is supported by the transition committee- and ultimately approved by the state legislature-llinois would be the 11th state with a single financial services commissioner.
A similar proposal is also on the table in Kansas, but that too faces opposition from bankers.
As for a new banking commissioner, no leading candidates have emerged. Mr. Schaffer, who is resigning to spend more time with his newborn twin daughters and to pursue other business interests, has told Mr. Ryan he would serve until a successor is found, said Bob Thompson, deputy commissioner for administration.
Mr. Schaffer, 54, has been commissioner since March 1996, when the state joined the Office of Banks and Trust Companies and the Office of Savings and Residential Finance to create the Office of Banks and Real Estate. Before being named top regulator for the combined agency, Mr. Schaffer served for three years as commissioner of the Office of Savings and Residential Finance.