Message from the Commissioner

During my first six weeks as Commissioner, I focused on meeting with government and industry officials and leaders with whom DFI works to accomplish our mission, achieve our goals and maintain trust and confidence in our financial institutions. I addressed participants of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) Directors’ College, participated in the California Bankers Association Annual Convention, met with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Association, National Money Transmitter Association, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, nonprofit organizations providing financial literacy and empowerment services to underserved communities and had one on one meetings with banks, credit unions and money transmitters, large and small.

I also studied the condition of many state-chartered financial institutions as part of our examination and application processes. The safety and soundness of our licensees is of vital interest to DFI. California’s financial institutions make a critical contribution to the prosperity of their communities, the state and the nation. Despite the recent financial crisis, the majority of state-chartered financial institutions are safe and sound. But we all need to focus on addressing current problems and preparing for the future and the success of our organization and industry. DFI continues to make efforts to improve our understanding of the economic and regulatory challenges affecting licensees and to foster constructive supervisory relationships that ultimately result in safe and sound financial institutions. Two-way communication between DFI and financial institutions is critical as we work together to restore and maintain confidence and trust in the financial system.

During my first week at DFI, I realized that the Bank on California program was in need of renewed state leadership. I have taken on this role and I’m honored to work with the city mayors and treasurers, banks and credit unions and community organizations from across the state to bring working Californians without bank accounts into the financial mainstream. Bank on California is the first and largest state initiative and serves as an excellent model for states across the country. I commend the Bank on California financial institution partners, both banks and credit unions that are working with government and community organizations to address the needs of the unbanked and underbanked. I look forward to seeing more volunteer banks and credit unions participating in this program to financially empower and enable more people in California. We all need a safe and affordable place to save our money and have access to financial services.

In April, I was excited to participate in California Financial Literacy Month. Financial education and literacy empowers people to make informed financial decisions and provides them with skills to reach their financial goals. I was pleased to see organizations across the state, including DFI and our licensees, working together to reach out to communities and give consumers, including youth, the tools and inspiration for a successful financial future.

Lastly, I testified before the Little Hoover Commission’s public hearing on the government reorganization plan. My testimony, which addresses how the plan affects DFI, is available on the Little Hoover Web site.

It was a very busy first month and a half and I plan to stay busy working with you on behalf of the people of California in future months. We all have much to do.

I look forward to hearing from you on any of these topics and/or on other topics and issues that are of interest to you. My contact information is below.

Teveia R. Barnes, Commissioner
Department of Financial Institutions
45 Fremont St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 263-8507