When the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) set out to name its chief climate risk officer, it ultimately chose an official who done the job at another well-known agency — albeit a state one.
The OCC on Monday appointed Yue Chen to the role. Chen, a chemical engineer, has served since November as the inaugural executive deputy superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services’ climate division.
NYDFS has served as somewhat of a standard-setter on climate. In 2020, it became the first U.S. regulator to explicitly call on state-regulated financial institutions to integrate climate change-related financial risks into their business strategies, risk management processes and governance frameworks.
In her most recent NYDFS role, Chen was responsible for integrating climate-related financial risks into supervision of regulated entities, the OCC said — though she earlier served as the New York agency’s director of sustainability and climate initiatives.
"We are fortunate to have someone with her background and experience in both finance and climate-related financial risk to lead the agency’s risk management work in this area,” Acting Comptroller Michael Hsu said in a statement. “She is an asset to an already strong and dedicated team of OCC staff focused on the safety and soundness of our banks and the financial system."
Chen assumes a role occupied by Jonathan Fink, who was named the OCC’s acting climate risk officer in March, in addition to his duties as associate chief counsel.
Under Hsu, the OCC has honed in on climate change’s risk to the financial system. The regulator last year released a set of draft principles regarding how banks with more than $100 billion in assets should manage climate risk.
Hsu, in a speech Wednesday, teased that his agency would name new leadership on climate “in the coming weeks.”
“With climate-related risks, I believe we are much more exposed to failures of imagination — not asking enough ‘what if?’ questions — than we are to failures of stringency or consistency,” Hsu said Wednesday, according to American Banker.
Regulators, he said, should address climate risk with “a clean sheet of paper and an open mind.”
Chen, who will report directly to Hsu, will lead the OCC’s climate risk efforts related to supervision, policy and external engagement, the OCC said in its Monday press release.
Before joining NYDFS, Chen was director of conservation investments at the Nature Conservancy, according to The Wall Street Journal. She also held positions at Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Canada, the outlet reported.