Gillespie exhorted bankers Monday to take a bigger interest in public policy matters, particularly by suggesting changes to international capital requirements proposed in June.
"If it's appropriate for our regulators to challenge us, it's equally imperative that we challenge the regulators," Mr. Gillespie told commercial lenders gathered here for Robert Morris Associates' annual convention. "We have the opportunity in the next six months to influence the regulatory environment in which we will be working for many years to come.''
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is accepting comments until March 31 on its plan to overhaul the 1988 capital standards. Among other things, the international regulators are considering basing capital requirements on the risk posed by a bank's borrowers rather than asset types.
Cleveland-based KeyCorp wants international regulators to rely more on banks' internal systems for setting capital. "While they are encouraging in direction, to date, they are discouraging in scope and detail," Mr. Gillespie said.
Turning to Congress, Mr. Gillespie predicted industry convergence and innovation will eventually force lawmakers and the administration to put aside political differences and enact financial reform legislation.
"Four or five (politicians) could resolve this issue in a half hour in the same room if they had a desire to get it done," he said. "We are witnessing the very creation of a new industry, with Citigroup as its poster child."
Citigroup was formed last year when Citicorp and Travelers Group combined. Without a new law, the company would be forced to divest some insurance underwriting business.
"How many people think we're going to witness the dismantling of Citigroup?" Mr. Gillespie asked.