Ethics and Values
At the Federal Reserve we hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and accountability in the pursuit of our important public mission.
The Federal Reserve is committed to upholding the highest ethical principles to strengthen public confidence in the impartiality of its decisionmaking processes. Employees of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Banks are required to comply with a variety of ethics requirements to guard against actual and perceived conflicts of interest. These rules are found in federal statutes and regulations, in Reserve Bank codes of conduct, and in the policies of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). This web page is designed to provide information on these provisions and answers to frequently asked questions.
"These rules raise the bar high in order to assure the public we serve that all of our senior officials maintain a single-minded focus on the public mission of the Federal Reserve"
– Federal Reserve Chair Powell
The Board of Governors and its employees are subject to the same ethics rules as other executive branch employees of the federal government, in addition to certain Federal Reserve-specific rules. The Board also requires each Federal Reserve Bank to have a Code of Conduct that establishes similar ethics rules, thus ensuring that employees throughout the Federal Reserve System are held to the highest ethical standards.
Policymakers and employees whose work involves monetary policy hold some of the most sensitive positions in the Federal Reserve System and must be the most vigilant about potential conflicts and impartiality concerns. In February 2022, the FOMC unanimously adopted requirements that further restrict the investments and trading of these individuals and their immediate family members. Together, these interconnected rules help safeguard the integrity of the FOMC decisionmaking process and promote a system that acts in the best interest of our nation’s monetary policy.
- Conflict of Interest Laws
Congress has passed several laws prohibiting bribery and setting limits on financial conflicts of interest with official duties, bank examiners’ acceptance of loans from regulated entities, and bank examiners’ post-employment activities, among other topics. Federal Reserve employees must comply with these restrictions.
- Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch
The Standards of Ethical Conduct, which applies to all employees across the executive branch, is a set of regulations addressing gifts, financial conflicts of interest, impartiality, outside employment solicitations, misuse of position, and outside activities. As federal employees, employees of the Board are required to abide by these regulations. Additionally, the Board has issued additional rules to prevent certain other conflicts and appearance issues specific to its employees. These supplemental ethics rules prohibit the ownership of bank stocks and financial services sector funds, require prior approval for compensated outside employment, and set restrictions on obtaining loans and working on matters involving lenders, among other things.
- Reserve Bank Code of Conduct
The Board also requires each Federal Reserve Bank to have a Code of Conduct that establishes similar ethics rules. The code of conduct from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is linked below as an example.
- Investment and Trading Policy for FOMC Officials
In October 2021, the Federal Reserve announced a broad new set of investment rules for policymakers and senior staff that support public confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the Committee's work by guarding against actual or apparent conflicts of interest.
The rules generally prohibit the purchase of individual stocks or sector funds, restrict active trading, and increase the timeliness of reporting and public disclosure. Senior Federal Reserve officials will be prohibited from investing in individual bonds, agency securities, cryptocurrencies, commodities, or foreign currencies, as well as from entering into derivatives contracts or engaging in short sales or purchasing securities on margin.
Additionally, to prevent any potential market timing concerns, senior Federal Reserve officials will be required to provide 45 days' non-retractable notice for purchases and sales of securities, obtain prior ethics approval for such transactions, and hold investments for at least one year.
The rules cover FOMC members, Reserve Bank first vice presidents, Reserve Bank research directors, FOMC staff officers, the manager and deputy manager of the System Open Market Account, Board division directors who regularly attend Committee meetings, any other individual designated by the Chair, as well as spouses and minor children of covered individuals.
There are also rules that apply to how and when policymakers and senior staff speak publicly, so as to not impart an advantage to any specific group or individual.
A set of FAQs were developed to help policymakers and staff follow the Investment and Trading Policy for FOMC Officials.
Board members, Reserve Bank presidents, and senior staff file annual financial disclosures that are made publicly available. They are also required to publicly disclose transactions involving stocks, bonds, commodity futures, and other securities no later than 45 days after the transaction.
- Policymaker Disclosures
As presidential appointees who are confirmed by the Senate, Board members are required to file annual financial disclosures every year by May 15**. Board members are also required to publicly disclose securities transactions involving stocks, bonds, commodity futures, and other securities no later than 45 days after the transaction.
Board member financial disclosure reports are reviewed by the Board’s Designated Agency Ethics Official and the OGE and are then posted on OGE’s website. Generally, Board member disclosure reports are available within 30 days of being received by OGE. These reports can be found on the OGE website.
Reserve Bank presidents are required to file annual public financial disclosures every year by May 15**. Reserve Bank presidents are also required to publicly disclose securities transactions involving stocks, bonds, commodity futures, and other securities no later than 45 days after the transaction. Financial disclosures filed by Reserve Bank presidents will be promptly posted on the website of the relevant Federal Reserve Bank.
- New York
- St. Louis
- Kansas City
- San Francisco
** If May 15 falls on a weekend, disclosures are due the following business day. In some cases, policymakers may receive an extension of up to 90 days if, for example, records required to complete a disclosure are not yet available. Return to text
- Board Staff Disclosures
Senior Board staff are required to file annual financial disclosures and disclose securities transactions involving individual stocks and bonds within 45 days. To request copies of Board staff public financial disclosures, please fill out the Office of Government Ethics Form 201 and submit the completed form to [email protected].