Ricki R. Helfer announced today that she has submitted her
resignation as Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation, effective June 1 or earlier upon confirmation of a
In her letter to President Clinton, Chairman Helfer said she
has achieved the goals she set for herself when she took office
on October 7, 1994, and wants to move on. "I would now like to
spend time with my husband and family and consider new
opportunities and challenges," she said.
Ms. Helfer, who became Chairman on October 7, 1994,
leaves the FDIC with both insurance funds restored to good
The Bank Insurance Fund reached its statutorily mandated reserve
level in May 1995, and the Savings Association Insurance Fund
was capitalized on October 1, 1996, after passage of the Deposit
Insurance Funds Act of 1996, which Chairman Helfer helped
shepherd through Congress.
The first woman to head a federal bank regulatory agency,
Ms. Helfer Initiated a number of improvements in the agency's
ability to monitor and control risk in the financial system. A
new Division of Insurance was created to identify emerging areas of
risk and to provide economic data to field examiners. A
systematic analysis into the causes of widespread bank failures of
the 1980s has been ongoing during her term, and the agency began using a
diagnostic approach to bank examinations that focuses on risk.
The FDIC chairman emphasized running the agency like a
business. She implemented managerial reforms at the Corporation,
developing the first strategic plan in the FDIC's 64-year
Planning has been linked to budgeting, and internal controls have
been made stronger through the establishment of a Board level
audit committee and an Office of Internal Control Management.
The FDIC successfully put in place on January 2 an integrated
financial information management system, replacing 100 separate systems
and creating a single automated general ledger for all income and
expense flows. The FDIC became the first of the federal bank
regulatory agencies to begin accepting call reports
electronically during Chairman Helfer's term.
The agency's focus shifted dramatically under Ms. Helfer,
as the FDIC chairman guided the agency's transition from a period
in which it was absorbed with the challenges of dealing with more
than 1,600 bank failures to a time of industry prosperity. The
FDIC's mission now stresses the need to help banks stay healthy
and serve their communities.
In light of the strong health of the banking and thrift
industries, the agency has downsized its budget and staff by
one-third since October 1994.
Other major accomplishments include the establishment of
automated examination procedures and the initiation of a program
to educate bank employees about their obligations to mutual fund
customers. Technology has been employed more extensively to
improve the agency's efficiency and effectiveness, and to provide
detailed information to the public, via the Internet, about each
of the nation's 11,452 banks and thrifts.
Ms. Helfer promoted qualified women and minorities into
key management positions within the Corporation. Eight of the
agency's 16 offices and divisions are headed by women or
Prior to joining the FDIC, Ms. Helfer was a partner in the
Washington office of the law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
From 1985 to 1992, she was the chief international lawyer at the
Federal Reserve Board and before that she worked as senior
counsel for international finance at the Department of Treasury,
as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and in private
She was born in North Carolina and raised in Smyrna and
Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Chairman Helfer graduated, with
honors, from Vanderbilt University and received an M.A. from the
University of North Carolina. She graduated with honors from the
University of Chicago Law School and clerked for U.S. Court of
Appeals Judge John Minor Wisdom.
Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in
1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system.
The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 11,452 banks and
savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of
these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing
risks to which they are exposed.
FDIC press releases and other information are available on the
Internet via the World Wide Web at www.fdic.gov or through Gopher
at gopher.fdic.gov, and may also be obtained through the FDIC's
Public Information Center (800-276-6003 or (703) 562-2200).