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Reviewing the regulatory agenda for 2017 amidst political and economic change

A Q&A with Phil Masquelette - CRO, Ulster Savings Bank. 

• Phil, can you tell us a little bit about your role and professional background?

As Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer for Ulster Savings Bank, located in Kingston, NY, I am responsible for oversight of all Bank risk management functions, including the Bank’s Legal and Compliance departments. He previously served as Vice President and Risk Manager at Bankwell in Bridgeport, CT, as First Vice President and Audit/Compliance Officer at Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan in Naugatuck, CT, and as Senior Attorney with the FDIC. I hold a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Rhode Island, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University.

• You will be joining a CRO line up for the keynote panel discussion to review the regulatory agenda for 2017, as a CRO how do you manage the ever-evolving regulatory landscape and influx of changes?

I have an extensive background in federal and state compliance along with his significant risk management experience prove to be invaluable assets to the Bank as it continues to grow as a community bank leader in the Hudson Valley and beyond. With the much unanticipated November 2016 election results and subsequent sea change of parties and policies in Washington, DC, there is much taking place on the regulatory front by the current administration in the financial sector.

• One aspect on the agenda for 2017 is around political change, without giving too much away, how do you see the landscape evolving with potential discussions surrounding regulation drawbacks?

There are now at least six executive orders or memoranda that will impact bank regulation: The Regulatory Freeze Memo; the Hiring Freeze Memo; the Two for One Executive Order; the Fiduciary Rule Memo; the Core Principles of Regulation Order; and the Regulatory Review Executive Order. Ever mindful of the separation of powers doctrine that calls for the legislature to write the laws, the executive branch to enforce them, and the judiciary to interpret them, I am attuned to the hyper-politicized left and right leaning media for reporting of further developments as they take place at a breathtaking pace.

• As a CRO at Ulster Savings Bank, what would you say are the main areas of focus for the regulatory agenda for 2017? 

Cybersecurity, BSA/AML/OFAC, and Fair Lending have been and will continue to be areas of major concentration for the financial sector into the foreseeable future. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to report to President Trump in the near future on change recommendations that would impact the financial sector in terms of easing the regulatory burden to lend money. Regulatory relief as to the non-lending income sources would be welcome.

• How do you see the role of the CRO evolving amidst political, regulatory and economic change?

While information technology continues to accelerate, and demands for computer fluency in cyberlingusitics will add to the learning curves for all risk professionals, the ability to read, digest, understand, communicate, and make meaningful ever changing regulatory implementations will be of much value to CROs in their demanding career roles. A keen awareness of economics, law, and business issues will be critical going forward.