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05.17.17

Compliance Titans: Margo Hirsch Strahlberg, U.S. Bank

If Margo Hirsch Strahlberg, prepaid compliance risk management specialist at U.S. Bank, isn’t managing responsibilities at home or work, she tries to steal time away to hit the gym. “I’ve incorporated more weight lifting into my routine,” she says. “My goal is to dead-lift a few copies of the CFPB’s prepaid accounts rule.”

Strahlberg has had her nose buried in the 1,689-page final rule since the CFPB issued it last October. She says understanding all aspects of the rule is challenging because it includes a spectrum of prepaid products. However, this compliance titan is up to the task because of her experience analyzing compliance matters and her zeal for the prepaid industry. She says she’s “still excited by the prepaid industry and all of the changes we’ve seen over the past decade or so.”

After law school, Strahlberg began her career in the New York office of Bryan Cave LLP, working in the firm’s transactional banking group. After moving to Chicago in 2006, she transitioned to the regulatory side of banking, which is when her responsibilities shifted to prepaid regulatory compliance. There she began working with Judie Rinearson (now with K&L Gates) and the rest of the payments team. In 2009, Paybefore named Strahlberg one of the 5 Rising Stars of Prepaid.

Going In-House

After 15 years at Bryan Cave, Strahlberg was recruited by U.S. Bank in 2015 to join its prepaid compliance team. She says she loves being closer to the business-line side of things in her role at U.S. Bank. She didn’t get that level of in-depth exposure as outside counsel. “I actively engage with [the legal and business teams] to ensure legal and regulatory matters are appropriately addressed throughout the life cycle of a product, and I am brought in to address new compliance issues as they arise,” she says. Strahlberg primarily focuses on federal and state requirements specific to prepaid cards; unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) matters; state payroll card requirements and unclaimed property compliance.

“The No. 1 compliance challenge I’m currently facing relates to the CFPB’s prepaid accounts rule. The rule encompasses such a wide array of prepaid products and, as they say, the devil is in the details.”

New laws and regulations present challenges and keep her on her toes, but what really intrigues her is understanding how those new guidelines impact various prepaid programs and U.S. Bank’s cardholders.

“I like working with the business line to create a product that benefits U.S. Bank, our clients and customers at the same time,” she says. “I also like bringing compliance awareness to other areas of the bank so that products are structured in a compliant manner early in their development.”

When Strahlberg isn’t working, the mother of three boys and one girl, all under the age of 14, is either attending school functions or helping her children with their homework. “There’s a lot of juggling and planning needed to keep our home from descending into chaos on a daily basis,” she says. “Fortunately, U.S. Bank is a great employer and I work with an amazing team, so I rarely miss a school event or doctor’s appointment.”

Not one to back down from a challenge, Strahlberg also is an avid baker of gluten-free desserts, which typically is more challenging than regular baking, she says.

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