As we begin to settle into the new year and look forward to the continued work that lies ahead, it is important to focus on the priorities that help to shape our work. Over the last four years, the department's work has benefited both consumers and businesses in the commonwealth. But our work is not done.
Now as we look ahead, there are areas that will require continued attention, as well as new areas we intend to develop.
Cybersecurity is a Top Priority. Cyberattacks are increasing in volume and sophistication. The department will continue to develop and share resources available to companies and organizations to assist them in developing strong practices to address cybersecurity threats, as well as partnering with other state agencies to educate consumers about ways to protect themselves online.
Preventing Elder Financial Abuse. This bears repeating: elder financial abuse is the financial crime of the 21stcentury. With one of the largest populations of senior citizens in the country, older Pennsylvanians are more susceptible to cognitive impairment and represent a tremendous asset base which makes them targets for financial scammers.
Guided by the Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, we will continue to work with public and private partners to help build a network of protection for the commonwealth's senior citizens. We will work with doctors, lawyers, social workers, senior service providers, and accountants to help these professionals recognize and report financial abuse targeting their clients, especially those suffering from mild cognitive impairment.
Investing in Women. My colleagues and I are implementing this initiative which is designed to demonstrate the value and benefit of having women in leadership roles, as well as positioning all women to be confident in their personal financial decision making. Much of our focus is on getting women interested in – and into – careers in finance, raising awareness on women-friendly workplace policies, and creating workplace cultures that support women. The department is making it a priority to help eliminate the gap that exists for women when it comes to financial capability.
An approach of facilitated innovation. Our charge as a financial services regulator of maintaining the integrity of the marketplace is one that we at the department take very seriously. Equally important is the need to balance that charge with encouraging business development and technological innovation in financial services (fintech). The role of financial regulation is not to make it more difficult to conduct business, but to protect consumers using fintech and to ensure a level playing field for all fintech companies. I plan to continue leading the national conversation surrounding the issue of fintech in my role as Non-Depository Supervisory Committee Chair for the Conference of State Bank Supervisors.
Developing the Next Generation of Leaders. Building upon the success of our first year, the department has plans to continue and grow the Next Generation Bankers Academy – a week long, intensive "boot camp" for college students interested in pursuing careers in finance or financial regulation, created in partnership with the Pennsylvania Bankers Association and the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers.
Creating a Banking Safe Harbor. State marijuana programs continue to stand in conflict with federal law. In the middle of this conflict are the businesses conducting themselves appropriately under state law – including banks, credit unions, law firms, and accounting firms. The department will continue to push for the necessary Congressional action to create a safe harbor for banks to serve state-compliant businesses.
I am immensely proud of the work of the Department of Banking and Securities and know that my colleagues and I will continue in our efforts to maintain Pennsylvania's trusted, secure financial services marketplace, and to serve Pennsylvania businesses and consumers over the next four years.