Ellen Broadman's signature may not grace every application approved by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, but she's often the one who should get the credit.
As director of the securities and corporate practices division, Ms. Broadman has drafted the paperwork allowing national banks to expand insurance, securities, and fiduciary activities.
"I hope I can be remembered as someone who has helped banks offer a broader range of services and expanded the choices for customers when they go into a bank," Ms. Broadman says.
The 13-year OCC veteran goes to great lengths to ensure the agency's approvals are legally sound. While working on First Union Corp.'s request to sell insurance from small towns, Ms. Broadman's staff spent weeks in the Library of Congress poring over 80-year-old documents.
"We wanted to get a better sense of how the banking world and the insurance world functioned in 1916, which is when the statute was enacted that said that banks located in towns of 5,000 could sell insurance," Ms. Broadman says.
She wrote the orders letting national banks engage for the first time in equity swaps and index options and offer mortgage reinsurance. She worked extensively on the Dec. 11 order allowing Zions First National Bank to underwrite municipal revenue bonds through an operating subsidiary.
In the coming year, Ms. Broadman's work load will be dictated by banks' requests to offer new products and services.
"What I do really depends in large part on what comes in the door and what the industry is interested in," she says. Indeed, any requests for new securities, insurance, or trust powers that the OCC receives under its controversial operating subsidiary rule will cross her desk.
Ms. Broadman joined the OCC in 1984 as an attorney in the litigation division, where she handled several enforcement actions against national bank officers. Ironically, earlier in her career when she was a lawyer for Consumer's Union, Ms. Broadman took her future employer to court.
Her group sued the agency to release the exam reports of several national banks with Truth-in-Lending Act violations. Consumer's Union lost.
"It was a very creative legal argument," she says with a chuckle.
Her stint with the consumer group ended in 1983 when she joined the Senate Judiciary Committee. She spent a year on Capitol Hill, where she handled bankruptcy, copyright, and antitrust issues, before joining the OCC.