John Ryan, voice for state financial regulators, has died

James Cooper, executive vice president of policy and supervision, will be acting CEO of CSBS.

John Ryan, longtime CEO of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, a national trade association of state financial regulators, died unexpectedly Monday night in Washington, D.C. He was 58.

Ryan held numerous positions at CSBS during the past several decades. Before becoming its CEO, Ryan was executive vice president.

“John was an inspirational and humble leader who brought incredible dedication, intellect and passion to CSBS, the state regulatory system and financial services more broadly,” said Melanie Hall, chair of the CSBS board of directors.

James Cooper, executive vice president of policy and supervision, was named acting CEO of CSBS by members of the board Hall chairs.

Under Ryan’s leadership, CSBS was instrumental in defining the rules of the road for nonbank mortgage lenders and servicers, as their share of the mortgage market grew during the years following the Great Recession.

In July 2021, CSBS released standards for states to model their regulations for nonbank mortgage servicers, largely aligning them with those of the government-sponsored enterprises.

Scott Olson, executive director of the Community Home Lenders Association, which represents small- and mid-sized independent mortgage banks, said he was saddened to hear of Ryan’s death.

“He was a consensus builder, which is a trait sorely lacking these days,” he said.

“John did his job with great ability,” said Olson, and “extended an open door to all of those like our members that are impacted by the work CSBS does.”

Along with convening nonbank and state-chartered bank regulators, the CSBS oversees the national mortgage licensing system, which licenses mortgage loan originators.

In January, under Ryan’s leadership, the CSBS, with the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, unearthed a fraudulent multi-state scheme that allowed hundreds of loan officers to skip a continuing education requirement meant to protect consumers and reduce fraud. The mastermind of the scheme settled with state financial regulators for $75,000.

During Ryan’s tenure, the association also pushed back against a bid by federal regulators to grant bank charters to fintechs.

“This pattern of the [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] flouting Congressional limits on its authority must stop,” Ryan wrote in a 2020 op-ed in American Banker. “This is a federal banking regulator that should be reminded — again — that only Congress can define a bank.”

The CSBS sued the federal banking regulator in 2017 over its proposed nonbank charter rule. The OCC oversees national banks, while the members of CSBS, with the FDIC, oversee state-chartered depositories. CSBS members also oversee independent mortgage banks.

Bob Broeksmit, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said the trade group worked closely with John on issues affecting banks and non-banks. Broeksmit described Ryan as “a warm, honest broker who always had the best interest of his members and consumers at heart.”

“We will miss his leadership and friendship and extend our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues at CSBS,” Broeksmit said.

Although it rarely commands headlines, the CSBS is often the voice of state regulators to Congress and to federal financial regulators, such as the National Credit Union Administration, which regulates federal credit unions. In a statement,Todd Harper, chairman of the NCUA, said he had known John for decades and benefited greatly from his insights and advice.

“As President and CEO of CSBS, he led the organization with humility, humor and integrity,” Harper said. “The world of banking supervisors lost a real advocate, true friend and outstanding leader. My heart goes out to his family and colleagues.”

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