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The Face of Versatility: Bank Examiners Adapt to Work From Home

What makes the Richmond Fed succeed is each individual who brings our mission to life through their work. Today we introduce Francis Pham, who demonstrated flexible thinking and actions to serve the needs of our community from home during the pandemic. Here’s his #MyRichmondFed story.

In these unprecedented times, many of our employees are stepping up and shifting their daily job responsibilities to support our economy and our communities through the pandemic. Francis Pham, an examiner in Supervision, Regulation and Credit (SRC), shares how his role has changed since the pandemic began.

Francis, who goes by Pham, began his career at the Richmond Fed as an intern, and then transitioned into a full-time employee. After nine years as an examiner, he continues to value his work every day. As a community bank examiner, Pham finds it rewarding to see an immediate impact to the community he is working with. In particular, he enjoys working with smaller community banks to understand the unique challenges they face or, on the contrary, the exciting developments in the region. “I work with banks from across our District, from D.C. metro banks to Southwest Virginia banks that are a bit more rural. It gives me a diverse look at local economies,” recalls Pham.

Our District serves a diverse community, from banks with commercial real estate and agricultural concentrations to banks operating in major metropolitan and rural markets. The geographic footprint includes both coastal and mountainous regions, and regions that experience hurricanes, tornados, blizzards and earthquakes. By engaging with various communities, Pham gains a first-hand account of the diversity between rural, suburban and metropolitan regions in our District.

Bank examiners have a unique role. They work directly with banks in our District to evaluate risk management, discuss strategic plans and test internal controls. The objectives of an examination are to evaluate bank soundness, check compliance and help the bank improve its performance.

Before the pandemic, bank examiners worked onsite in groups to have critical discussions with leaders. However, the pandemic has forced examiners to quickly adapt to a remote process, which includes video conferencing to meet these objectives.

Though in an alternate work environment, Pham remains actively engaged in our community, but with a new focus. Working as a sounding board for community and regional banks as they navigate the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Pham still makes a positive impact in our community. The PPP assists community and regional banks in providing funds to cover the personnel and operational expenses of their customers, which help stabilize local economies during the pandemic. Pham, as many of our other examiners, put many hours into researching the quickly changing regulations to assist banks in understanding the program. Pham’ effort as part of SRC also helped inform the U.S. Treasury and Small Business Administration on the PPP’s successes and room for improvement.

Outside of his typical job duties, Pham is a member of the Evolving Professionals Program (EPP) employee resource network, which is focused on the development of young professionals. Pham actively attends EPP events and works to share the Fed’s inviting culture with new employees through conversation and mentorship. As Pham demonstrates, SRC has a strong development pipeline to take early career examiners and train them into lead examiners, as well offering many rotational and leadership training opportunities. He attributes his professional development to SRC’s career development programs and looks forward to continuing to grow as an examiner.

If you are interested in becoming a bank examiner, check out our careers tab on our website.

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