The article says this is a secret not known by many and it was a secret to me.  There’s no expansion with Quants today other than in compliance and according to this article, compared to the work they used to do, they hate working compliance.  The agency is funded by imageassessments on national banks so I guess now we know where some of the money goes when fines are levied. 

When we talk about models this is where the quants work and in the past it was a much different occupation.  Versus working for a bank the quants working for the government don’t make as much money of course.  The OCC has the opportunity to verify models used by banks but of course the banks say it consumes time as they have already put a lot of time into the creation.  famous financial engineer Andrew Lo is offering his consulting services to the agency for free to bring them into the 21st century.  He created a model for banks that helped them predict which consumers were most likely to fault on credit-card payments so we have a little bit of both government and outside consulting going on here.  He’s also helping build quantitative tools to find potential credit risk in the banking industry and number one on the list is the mortgage market which for re-fi’s has kind of choked off quite a bit. 

It’s a start and how it works out will be interesting to follow along and at least someone can in fact I think replicate a model if the OCC Quants do have access to do that. This is a helpful page at the link below as well to answer questions, file complaints, etc. about banks, credit cards, mortgages and so on.   BD

From the website:

The OCC's primary mission is to charter, regulate, and supervise all national banks and federal savings imageassociations. We also supervise the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. Our goal in supervising banks and federal savings associations is to ensure that they operate in a safe and sound manner and in compliance with laws requiring fair treatment of their customers and fair access to credit and financial products.

The OCC is an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The President, with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, appoints the Comptroller to head the agency for a five-year term. The Comptroller also is a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and NeighborWorks® America.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the OCC has four district offices plus an office in London to supervise the international activities of national banks. The OCC's nationwide staff of bank examiners conducts on-site reviews of national banks and federal savings associations (or federal thrifts) and provides sustained supervision of these institutions’ operations. Examiners analyze loan and investment portfolios, funds management, capital, earnings, liquidity, sensitivity to market risk for all national banks and federal thrifts, and compliance with consumer banking laws for national banks and thrifts with less than $10 billion in assets. They review internal controls, internal and external audit, and compliance with law. They also evaluate management's ability to identify and control risk.

In regulating national banks and federal thrifts, the OCC has the power to:

  • Examine the national banks and federal thrifts.
  • Approve or deny applications for new charters, branches, capital, or other changes in corporate or banking structure.
  • Take supervisory actions against national banks and federal thrifts that do not comply with laws and regulations or that otherwise engage in unsound practices. Remove officers and directors, negotiate agreements to change banking practices, and issue cease and desist orders as well as civil money penalties.
  • Issue rules and regulations, legal interpretations, and corporate decisions governing investments, lending, and other practices.

More recently, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finance professor has been laboring for another client: the U.S. government. Working with banking regulators at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an arm of the Treasury Department, he's helping build quantitative tools to find potential credit risk in the banking industry, starting with the mortgage market.

The efforts of Lo, a pioneer in his field, are part of an unprecedented push at the OCC to embrace quantitative analysis. The regulator is building models, hiring financial engineers - known on Wall Street as "quants" or "strats"- and questioning banks to a far greater degree than it ever has before.

The OCC's effort stems in part from the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which requires the OCC and the U.S. Federal Reserve to evaluate the quantitative models that banks build and use. But the OCC is going further by building its own models from the ground up so it can check banks' results and monitor the broader financial system.

An executive at one of the largest U.S. banks told Reuters that an argument between OCC quants and the bank's own quants over a valuation model for a particular type of bond took weeks to resolve. According to the executive, there were only minor differences in the models and barely any difference in the outcomes. The bank now runs both models concurrently to appease OCC staff, even though its internal model had already been vetted by the Fed.

"It's one of those quiet little success stories," said Comptroller Thomas Curry in an interview with Reuters. "It's a very competitive area but one of the attractions we have for the quants that don't want to be totally academic that this is really a practical application of what they do.",0,326669.story


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