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Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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Current FAQs
Informing the public about the Federal Reserve

How can I start a bank?

Starting a bank involves a long organization process that could take a year or more, and permission from at least two regulatory authorities. Extensive information about the organizer(s), the business plan, senior management team, finances, capital adequacy, risk management infrastructure, and other relevant factors must be provided to the appropriate authorities.

The proposed bank must first receive approval for a federal or state charter. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has exclusive authority to issue a federal or "national bank" charter, while any state (and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) may issue a state charter. Before granting a charter, the OCC or state must be able to determine that the applicant bank has a reasonable chance for success and will operate in a safe and sound manner. Next, the proposed bank must obtain approval for deposit insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Additional approvals are required from the Federal Reserve if, at formation, a company would control the new bank and/or a state-chartered bank would become a member of the Federal Reserve.

All insured banks must comply with the capital adequacy guidelines of their primary federal regulator (Federal Reserve, FDIC, or OCC). The guidelines require a bank to demonstrate that it will have enough capital to support its risk profile, operations, and future growth even in the event of unexpected losses. Newly established banks are generally subject to additional criteria that remain in place until the bank's operations become well-established and profitable.

Related Information

 
Last update: August 2, 2013