Explaining Banking to Bank Directors

The Federal Reserve has announced a new initiative: A website to explain banking to new bank directors. No, really, they have. From the press release:

“Many people who are asked to serve on bank boards have little training or experience to prepare them for their new roles,” said Patrick M. Parkinson, director of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation. “This website has been developed with new directors in mind, but there is plenty of useful information for those who have already spent time on bank boards.”

In relation to the Irish banks, one can certainly argue that bank directors with little experience of banking, finance or economics played a role in their downfall. It will be interesting to see if this is an issue touched upon by Mr. Regling in his report to the banking enquiry.

This raises a more general question: Why are bank boards so commonly made up of people with little relevant experience? Is this an issue that needs to be addressed by regulators in the future? Or is it too much to expect bank directors to have technical expertise and these issues are best left to management, with boards simply overseeing corporate governance issues?