Who regulates banks?

Banking regulations come from both federal and state government agencies. These regulators are responsible for examining banks’ stability, monitoring compliance with banking laws, issuing regulations, taking enforcement actions, and closing banks if they fail. Depending on the type of bank, it is regulated by one of the following federal agencies: 

  • The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) oversees national banks. These banks have the word “National” or the letters “N.A.” in their name.
  • The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) oversees state-chartered banks (banks that receive authorization to conduct business from the state instead of the federal government) that are members of the Federal Reserve System. Membership in the Federal Reserve System is required for national banks, but it is optional for state-chartered banks. The FRB also regulates bank holding companies.
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) oversees state-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System.
  • The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) oversees federal savings and loans and federal savings banks.
  • The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) oversees federally-chartered credit unions.

State and Federal Banking Regulators

While different banks are regulated by different federal agencies, each state has just one banking agency that oversees most state-chartered banks and other financial institutions conducting business in the state. A state’s banking agency will work with the appropriate federal agency to regulate a bank. For example, a bank that is state-chartered in New York and not a member of the Federal Reserve System is regulated by both the New York Department of Banking and the FDIC. These banking regulators ensure strong supervision of the banking industry.