|By Rick Rothacker, The Charlotte Observer|
"So much of the reform has just been incremental," said former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman
The impact of the financial crisis is obvious in
The crisis has spurred anger from the general public around the world about the culpability of bankers for the economic crash that followed the banking meltdown. Protesters have swarmed
The banks' investors have also absorbed painful blows.
The decline of
"I have talked to many shareholders who were totally dependent on
"It was a stock that had been handed down generation to generation. A number of people faced real changes in their retirement."
"I think it will impact this generation of investors and consumers in a way that the Great Depression did," said Carroll, who joined Wells from Wachovia. "People's sense of risk, their trust level in institutions and individuals has been shaken."
Overall, the industry is much better equipped to deal with adversity, with twice as much capital and tighter supervision, Carroll said, but he added a note of caution. Since the crisis, new problems keep cropping up, from trouble at European banks to congressional wrangling over budget cuts to the latest Mideast turmoil.
"The industry, including our regulators, has proven to be very effective at preventing the last disaster," he said. "Whatever comes next will be totally different."
Commercial depositors started pulling money from the
Recalling those tense days, Bair said she was proud of how
"I felt like I had to make decisions reactively instead of proactively," Bair said.
Asked if TARP could have saved Wachovia, Bair turned the question around. She said troubled banks such as
Wachovia made a lot of mistakes, she said, citing the bank's 2006 acquisition of mortgage lender
Bair said too little has been done to prevent another crisis. Banks have more capital now, but she'd like to see them hold even more as a buffer against losses. "We need a lot more capital and a lot less leverage at the major financial institutions," she said.
As for concerns about whether some banks are still so big they will receive government bailouts if they falter, Bair said she would welcome legislation to bar commercial banks from riskier investment banking activities. But she doubts that will happen.
Instead, she would like to see these activities cleanly walled off inside larger conglomerates with their own boards of directors.
Bair left the
She spends much of her time leading the
"It's harder than I thought it would be, but I keep telling myself if we weren't doing this it would be a lot worse," she said. "We're going to keep in there swinging."
"I think about it pretty frequently," Carroll said of those turbulent times. "It has colored my view on things like risk management, how you run your business and thinking about what you don't know on any given day. So I would say it had a pretty big impact on me."
In his current role, he is in charge of one of the nation's largest brokerage businesses, helping clients with financial planning and investment decisions. The financial crisis still causes consternation for customers facing foreclosure, he said, but overall
Some politicians continue to press for the breakup of big banks, which Carroll said
"There are clearly things that we think advantage our country by having large well-managed and well-supervised institutions," Carroll said, noting how banks recently helped a major U.S. employer,
As for the
"The whole thing feels a lot more natural after five years than maybe I would have guessed it would," he said.
Wells last month said it was laying off 284 mortgage employees in
"It was difficult to ascertain whether the market reactions were valid or what the true health of the financial system was," he said.
One of the firm's major holdings was
The Fingers would emerge as major critics of the bank's management, file a shareholder lawsuit and push for change on the bank's board at the
"We had a long relationship with the bank and
Finger won't discuss the family's losses, but he notes others suffered as well. The family has sold some of its
"The financial crisis of 2008 was obviously a gut-wrenching experience for all bank investors and investors in general," he said. "We were not exempt from that situation."
Since the crisis,
"Our banks are so much better capitalized than the rest of the banks," he said. "I think another crisis could start in
A major lesson of the crisis is that big investors need to keep a closer eye on boards of directors and their attention to risk management, he said.
"Institutional shareholders have been more aggressive about contacting boards of directors and exercising oversight, but I think there is definitely room to improve," he said. "We have to guard against complacency."
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