Two years as the District of Columbia's superintendent of banking made Fe Morales Marks the Maytag repairman of regulators - she didn't have any banks to supervise.
Most of her time was spent rewriting the district's arcane banking laws, a project that eventually bogged down in local politics. But her tenure wasn't a total bust, at least not personally. It prepared her for her current job as the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for financial institutions policy.
In that post, which she has held since July 1993, Ms. Marks is a top aide to Assistant Secretary Richard Carnell in drafting the agency's banking policies and working with Congress to enact legislation affecting the industry.
Chief among their priorities is eliminating regulatory burden while preserving safety and soundness and community reinvestment rules.
"Many of the issues I had to deal with (as banking commissioner) are now being done on a national level - CRA, community banking, and regulatory relief," Ms. Marks said in an interview.
Since she joined the Treasury, federal banking regulators have streamlined a variety of rules, with the mission of preserving safety and soundness of the system while pushing institutions to step up service to underserved communities.
Ms. Marks points to Community Reinvestment Act revisions, which federal regulators completed last year, as the type of regulatory relief that the industry can expect. By shifting CRA rules to performance-based measures, rather than an ever-growing paperwork burden, federal agencies show a willingness to work with the industry to ease compliance. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision - both agencies of the Treasury - have undertaken sweeping projects to rewrite their rulebooks.
Though Republicans in Congress are pushing for even more relief and have clashed with the administration, Ms. Marks doesn't see the relationship with Capitol Hill as adversarial.
"Along with Congress, this office concurs with the need to ease regulatory burdens," she said. "So I don't think there is disagreement on eliminating as much regulatory burden as possible, given that proper consideration is given for safety and soundness and other issues."
While congressional Republicans boldly waved the banner of deregulation only to get bogged down by Whitewater and industry squabbles, Ms. Marks points out that Treasury and other agencies this year streamlined rules and reduced paperwork.
"There are opportunities to go outside the legislative arena and there always have been," she said.
Ms. Marks, 40, said her 12 years as a banking attorney in private practice helped her understand the wariness bankers feel toward their regulators.
"Because I was in the private sector I could appreciate the perception a client provides on banking regulation. That made me a good candidate for this job," she said.
Ms. Marks began her career after graduating from Columbia University School of Law in 1979. Her specialty, advising both commercial borrowers and lenders, provided her with a sound footing in the private sector.
It's a choice she made right out of school. "The importance of financial services to the functioning of the economy was important to me," she said.
Ms. Marks, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, grew up in the South Bronx. She is married to Kenneth Hicks Marks Jr., an attorney with the firm Alexander, Gebhardt, Aponte, & Marks. They have a 6-year-old daughter.
After half a decade as a regulator, Ms. Marks said she still enjoys the role, but expects to leave the government before her career is over. "We all have to return to private practice eventually," she said.