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Richard Wade Vague is an American businessperson, venture capitalist, and author who served as Secretary of Banking and Securities of Pennsylvania from 2020 until 2023.[4]

Richard Vague
Richard Vague in 2009
Born1956 (age 67–68)
Wichita Falls, Texas[1]
Alma materUniversity of Texas
Political partyDemocratic
Board member ofUniversity of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees, Penn Medicine Board of Trustees, FringeArts Philadelphia, Innovation Advisory Board of the Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania Press, Institute for New Economic Thinking[2]
Pennsylvania Secretary of Banking and Securities
Assumed office
Appointed byTom Wolf
Preceded byRobin Wiessmann[3]

Early life and education

Vague was born in Wichita Falls, Texas to an Exxon engineer and a homemaker. He is the second of four children and the family moved around Texas often. He attended college at University of Texas and graduated with a B.S. in advertising in 1982.[5][6] He worked part-time at American National Bank in Austin, Texas while attending college. After graduating he became the bank's chief marketing officer.[1][7]

Business career

Vague's business ventures in the banking and energy sectors were built on the use of affinity marketing.[8][9]


Vague started his business career in banking at American National Bank (later renamed MBank Austin) as chief marketing officer.[7] In 1985, Vague was president of Mpact Brokers, a discount brokerage subsidiary of MCorp Bank.[10] In 1987 he was named president and CEO of MBank USA, a credit-card bank subsidiary of Lomas & Nettleton Financial Corporation.[11] In 1989 as president of Wilmington, Delaware based credit card bank Lomas Bank USA, he and fellow MBank executive John Tolleson orchestrated the sale of Lomas' retail banking and credit card divisions to Merrill Lynch[7] for $435 million in cash and $65 million in preferred stock.[12] After the acquisition, Lomas Bank USA was renamed First USA Bank.[13] In 1990, Vague was named president of bank card company First USA Holdings.[14] In 1996, Vague and five other First USA executives sold off over 200,000 of their shares in the company.[15] Bank One acquired First USA in 1997, then the fourth largest credit card issuer in the US, for $6.65 billion in stock.[16] In June 1999, Vague and fellow Bank One executive James Stewart launched Wingspan Bank as an online banking division of Bank One.[17] By October 1999, Vague resigned as head of Bank One's credit card operations[18] after the credit card unit under-performed, which had impacted the bank's expected earnings by 15%.[19]

In 2000, Vague and former Bank One executive James Stewart founded Juniper Bank. Juniper Bank became Barclaycard US when it was acquired by Barclays in 2004.[20]


In 2007, Vague and Kevin Kleinschmidt, a former Barclaycard US executive, founded Energy Plus, an electricity and natural gas supply company.[21] Energy Plus was acquired by NRG Energy in 2011 for $190 million.[1]

Venture capitalism

In 2010, he founded venture capital firm Gabriel Investments.[22]


Vague has been a Republican, an independent and registered as a Democrat in 2017.[23][24] In 1995 he served on Delaware's Education Improvement Commission, which recommended decentralization and deregulation of education decisions in the name of financial efficiency.[25]

In 2017, he served as finance chair on Rebecca Rhynhart's campaign for Philadelphia City Controller.[26]

In 2014, he was named to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's transition team as a member of a group to review the Department of Human Services.[27] Governor Wolf appointed Vague as Acting Banking and Securities Secretary in February 2020.[28]

Vague has donated significant sums of money to both Republicans and Democrats.[29] In the first half of 2019 he gave $150,000 to political action committee Philadelphia 3.0.[30][31][32]

Vague briefly considered running for president as a Democrat in 2020. He conducted 22 focus groups in early primary states.[23][33][34]


Vague has written five books: The Paradox of Debt (2023), The Case for a Debt Jubilee (2021), An Illustrated Business History of the United States (2021), A Brief History of Doom (2019), and The Next Economic Disaster (2014). He claims that all profits from sales of his latest "Debt Jubilee" book will "go to charity."[35]


  1. ^ a b c "Is This Rich Middle-Aged White Guy From Texas the Most Revolutionary Thinker in Philly?". Philadelphia Magazine. 2019-04-21. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  2. ^ "Richard Vague". Richard Vague. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  3. ^ "United States : Gov. Wolf to Nominate Richard Vague to Serve as Secretary of Banking and Securities." Mena Report, February 12, 2020, NA. Gale General OneFile (accessed December 24, 2021). .
  4. ^ "Secretary". Department of Banking and Securities. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  5. ^ "Richard Vague Joins Heartland Payment Systems Board of Directors". Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  6. ^ "Degrees and Dates of Attendance". Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  7. ^ a b c Ladendorf, Kirk. "Lomas to sell credit card operations." Austin American-Statesman, June 9, 1989: B7. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  8. ^ "Business is growing for Phila. energy suppliers". Science Center. Retrieved 2021-12-25.
  9. ^ DiStefano, Joseph N.. "Valley Forge casino finds ways to buck slots slump." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), April 8, 2014: A09. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  10. ^ Dodge, Robert. "DISCOUNT BROKERAGES EARN CLOUT10th birthday finds companies flourishing." The Dallas Morning News, September 8, 1985: 1H. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  11. ^ to The News, Staff Special. "MBANK USA TO BUY CREDIT CARD PORTFOLIO." The Dallas Morning News, April 30, 1987: 6d. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  12. ^ "Today's digest." Austin American-Statesman, October 13, 1989: E11. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  13. ^ "Lomas Bankers Corp. renamed First USA." The Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1989: 2D. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  14. ^ "EXECUTIVE CHANGES." The Dallas Morning News, July 9, 1990: 2D. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  15. ^ For The Press, BOB GABELE. "IT'S ABOUT TIME TO PREPARE FOR STORM AS SELLING CONTINUES TO RISE." Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ), July 7, 1996: F2. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  16. ^ "BANC ONE TO ACQUIRE FIRST USA OF DALLAS". South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
  17. ^ "GRIN - Wingspanbank - introduction and analysis". Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  18. ^ MANOR, ROBERT. "Bank One shakeup as profits flatline." Chicago Sun-Times, October 20, 1999: 65. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  19. ^ Tribune, Chicago. "BANK ONE PROFITS TUMBLESTOCK DIVES AS CREDIT-CARD WOES MAY LEAD TO 15 PERCENT EARNINGS SHORTFALL." Sun-Sentinel, August 26, 1999: 3D. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  20. ^ Kulikowski, Laurie. "Barclay card US Loss Grows;'08 Profit Projection Sticks." American Banker (USA) 171, no. 149, August 4, 2006: 2. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  21. ^ INQUIRER STAFF WRITER, Andrew Maykuth. "Energy Plus finds power in loyalty programs The cofounders of the Philadelphia-based energy supplier are making inroads in deregulated electricity markets.." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), January 25, 2011: C01. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  22. ^ "Richard W Vague, Managing Partner/Founder, Gabriel Investments". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  23. ^ a b Brennan STAFF WRITER, By Chris. "Phila. tech capitalist eyes presidential run - Vague has been taking voters’ temperature.." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), January 17, 2019: A1. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  24. ^ Now, Delaware Business. "First USA founder ponders presidential bid." Delaware Business Daily (DE), January 25, 2019. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  25. ^ Kline Staff writer, Melissa K.. "Decentralize schools, says commission." Delaware State News (Dover, DE), September 20, 1995. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  26. ^ DiStefano, Joseph N.. "Tech community backing aided Rhynhart." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), May 22, 2017: D01. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  27. ^ Alex, Christian; Calex, Ersen | (2014-12-15). "250-plus people named to Gov.-elect Tom Wolf's transition review teams". pennlive. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  28. ^ "Feds charge Pa. banking secretary's stepson in cyberstalking case". WITF. 2021-01-21. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  29. ^ INQUIRER STAFF WRITER, Ben Finley. "By donating to both sides in Pa., they can't lose." Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA), November 7, 2014: B01. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current. .
  30. ^ Brennan, Julia Terruso and Chris. "Dark money under spotlight as campaign finance law changes right before Philly primary". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  31. ^ Philadelphia Department of Records, Philadelphia 3.0 PAC Campaign Finance Report, Jan. - April 2019
  32. ^ "City of Philadelphia Campaign Finance Filing System". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  33. ^ "The 2020 Democrat You Definitely Haven't Heard Of: Richard Vague". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  34. ^ Fiorillo, Victor (2019-01-19). "Richard Vague Says He Might Run for President in 2020". Philadelphia Magazine.
  35. ^ Vague, Richard. "THE CASE FOR A DEBT JUBILEE". Retrieved 10 January 2022.