WASHINGTON - John F. Robinson, one of the top policymakers at the Office of Thrift Supervision, will become director of the agency's San Francisco office on Aug. 30.

Mr. Robinson, currently acting deputy director for Washington operations, has been writing thrift industry regulations since joining the now defunct Federal Home Loan Bank Board in 1989. He helped draft the controversial interest-rate-risk rules that will be in place soon.

In an interview Monday, he called the San Francisco post "the best job in OTS."

Never in the Front Lines

The 46-year-old regulator conceded that he has no front-line supervisory experience, "so it will be a challenge for me."

The West region has been without permanent leadership since February 1992 when Michael Patriarca left for Wells Fargo & Co. His deputy, Eric Shand, became acting director, then got a permanent appointment, but left in mid-April, also for Wells Fargo.

From San Francisco, Mr. Robinson will oversee an 11-state territory. It has 162 thrifts with $265.3 billion in total assets. The region, particularly California, has been the OTS's major concern.

In the first quarter, thrifts in the West, hurt by the slump in the real estate market, had the lowest return on assets of any of OTS's five regions.

Optimistic View

"There are some large institutions out there that are still trying to work through some big problems, and that bears watching. But that's history," Mr. Robinson said. "I see a pretty healthy thrift industry for the survivors."

His new salary is not set, but he said it will be less than the $185,000 Mr. Patriarca was pulling down. He makes $130;000 now and expects a raise.

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