U.S. markets open in 8 hours 10 minutes
  • S&P Futures

    +3.50 (+0.08%)
  • Dow Futures

    +7.00 (+0.02%)
  • Nasdaq Futures

    +7.50 (+0.05%)
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    +1.60 (+0.09%)
  • Crude Oil

    +0.93 (+0.99%)
  • Gold

    +0.60 (+0.03%)
  • Silver

    -0.00 (-0.02%)

    +0.0002 (+0.02%)
  • 10-Yr Bond

    0.0000 (0.00%)
  • Vix

    -0.72 (-3.80%)

    +0.0006 (+0.05%)

    -0.2850 (-0.19%)
  • Bitcoin USD

    +181.34 (+0.69%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    +3.64 (+0.65%)
  • FTSE 100

    -32.50 (-0.43%)
  • Nikkei 225

    -577.85 (-1.79%)

Who is Greg Becker, the former head of failed Silicon Valley Bank?

2022 Milken Institute Global Conference

By Hannah Lang

(Reuters) - Greg Becker, the former chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Bank, is set to appear before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, two months after the collapse of his bank sparked panic among bank customers and investors, forcing the government to backstop deposits.

California banking regulators moved quickly to shut down Silicon Valley Bank on March 10 after depositors withdrew $42 billion in 24 hours. Just a day earlier, Becker had personally called clients to assure them their money was safe.

It was the third-largest bank failure in U.S. history. The SVB collapse set off shock waves that pounded regional banking stocks for weeks.

Becker will testify before the Senate Banking Committee alongside Scott Shay and Eric Howell, the former chair and president, respectively, of Signature Bank. Regulators closed the lender on March 12 after it experienced liquidity issues following SVB’s collapse two days earlier.

The hearings will for the first time offer lawmakers the opportunity to grill the three executives who have been criticized for failing to address risk-management issues that had been flagged by regulators.

Some lawmakers have also rebuked Becker for dishing out bonuses and have questioned whether he and other executives profited from stock sales ahead of the bank's collapse.

Becker could not be reached by phone for comment. Shay and Howell did not respond to requests for comment.

In prepared testimony published ahead of Tuesday's hearing, Becker said the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes as well as panic on social media were the downfall of his bank, and said executives were responsive to concerns that had been raised by regulators. Shay and Howell in prepared testimony said they disagreed with regulators' decisions to close Signature and that the bank would have been able to process withdrawal requests.

Federal regulators invoked emergency powers to backstop all deposits at SVB and Signature. They facilitated the sale of SVB to North Carolina-based First Citizens Bank and the sale of Signature to Flagstar Bank, a subsidiary of New York Community Bancorp Inc.

Regulators will also appear before Congress on Tuesday at a separate House of Representatives hearing where lawmakers are expected to question their oversight of the lenders, how they handled the failures, and their decision earlier this month to broker a sale of troubled First Republic Bank to JPMorgan.


But Becker, who joined SVB three decades ago as a loan officer, is likely to draw the most scrutiny.

He cut his teeth during the dotcom bubble and later steered the startup-focused lender in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. He became president and CEO of SVB Financial Group in 2011. In January, Becker said the economic outlook was improving after a downbeat 2022.

“We're optimistic," Becker told CNBC.

Becker graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in business, according to a biography published on talent booking agency All American Speakers Bureau's website. From there, he worked at a bank that served what he called "traditional companies." When his manager left to work for Silicon Valley Bank, Becker followed, he said on a 2021 Bloomberg podcast.

The banker described his first few years at SVB as "the highest of highs and the lowest of lows" as the lender navigated the tech rout of the late 1990s.

"We took losses. It was a challenging time for us ... I look back on it fondly. I learned a lot about the institution. I learned a lot about how to lend money," he said.

Before becoming president and CEO of SVB Financial Group, Becker co-founded SVB Capital, the company's investment arm.

He also served on the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2019 up until March 10, a spokesperson for the regional Fed bank said.

(Reporting by Hannah Lang in Washington; Editing by Lananh Nguyen, Michelle Price and Matthew Lewis)