Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks today announced he will step down on January 14, 2021, and pursuant to 12 USC 4, Chief Operating Officer Blake Paulson will become Acting Comptroller of the Currency.
“It has been a great honor to serve the United States as Acting Comptroller of the Currency,” Acting Comptroller Brooks said. “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is the most extraordinary of federal agencies filled with the most dedicated, professional, and gifted staff any executive can hope to have. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together through what have been extraordinary times by any measure.”
During his eight months as Acting Comptroller, the OCC acted swiftly to provide relief and support to national banks and federal savings associations so they could use their strength to help consumers, businesses, and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. It promoted greater financial access and economic opportunity by eliminating regulatory uncertainty regarding valid-when-made and true-lender rules. The agency also continued to implement its new Community Reinvestment Act rule to promote more investment, lending, and services where they are needed most.
In addition, the agency enhanced the relevance and value of the federal charter and helped ensure the federal banking system can evolve to meet the changing demands of consumers and markets by clarifying bank and thrift authorities regarding certain activities related to crypto assets and continuing to defend our authority to charter companies engaged in the business of banking with business models that focus on serving customers in new and specific ways.
“The actions we took as a team will help ensure the federal banking system operates in a safer, sounder, and fairer manner for decades to come,” Mr. Brooks said.
Chief among the initiatives launched during Acting Comptroller Brooks’ tenure is Project REACh. Project REACh includes active participation of bankers, civil rights leaders, and technologists working at national and regional levels to identify and reduce barriers that prevent underserved and minority populations from participating fully and fairly in our economy. “The movement demonstrates the good the agency can do by convening hearts and minds and aligning them to a common cause,” Brooks said. “I applaud the agency, the industry, and stakeholders for coming together for this important project—all the more so since, as the events of January 6 demonstrate, the country’s need to come together has never been greater.”
“The nation and the federal banking system are fortunate to have such a stable, capable hand like Blake Paulson to step in and guide the agency with the other Executive Committee members until the next Comptroller is nominated and confirmed,” Brooks added.
Mr. Paulson is a career bank examiner and has served as Chief Operating Officer since June 2020. In this role, Mr. Paulson oversaw OCC bank supervision and OCC management operations, as well as staff responsible for Systemic Risk Identification Support and Specialty Supervision, and Supervision System and Analytical Support.
Prior to this role, Mr. Paulson was responsible for supervising nearly 1,100 national banks and federal savings associations, as well as nearly 1,600 OCC employees as Senior Deputy Comptroller for Midsize and Community Bank Supervision. During his long career at the OCC, he has held a variety of other bank supervision and leadership roles involving banks of all size.
Mr. Blake Paulson joined the OCC in 1986 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is a graduate of the University of South Dakota.