By Stephen W. Rice
The Independent Bankers Association of New York State (IBANYS) was in Washington, D.C., in late April to participate in the Washington Policy Summit hosted by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). Among our top priorities: urging members of the New York Congressional Delegation to support ICBA’s “Plan for Prosperity” regulatory relief package, which IBANYS’ Government Relations Committee has strongly endorsed.
The plan is intended to relieve community banks from the most burdensome and costly regulatory requirements. It is not a single bill, but a set of priorities that may be introduced and enacted individually or collectively. As a living document, the Plan for Prosperity can adapt to rapid changes in the congressional and regulatory environments. It includes proposals to exempt community banks from mortgage-lending reforms, reduce annual privacy notice redundancies, ease municipal advisor registration requirements, reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, improve bank exam accountability, and offer relief from auditing expenses.
Simply put, the plan is designed to reduce excessive regulation, while supporting greater regulatory accountability to help community banks stay focused on their mission: promoting economic growth in their communities. Each provision of the plan was crafted to preserve and strengthen consumer protections and safety and soundness. Rebalancing the regulatory burden will ensure that scarce capital and labor resources are used productively, not sunk into unnecessary compliance costs. This will allow community banks to better focus on lending and investing, and that will directly improve the quality of life in our communities.
Community banks and thrifts play a vital role in ensuring the economic recovery reaches communities of all sizes across the country. The Plan for Prosperity provides targeted relief from the regulations that are stunting the economic recovery. Relieving community banks from excessive, redundant and costly regulatory burdens will allow community banks to thrive by doing what they do best: serving and growing their communities.
The continually increasing burden of regulation discourages new community bank charters and leads to further industry consolidation, which harms competition, consumers, and exposes taxpayers to the risk of additional costly bailouts. The ICBA Plan for Prosperity helps provide appropriate tiering of regulation and relief for smaller, low-risk institutions so they can better serve their communities and promote economic growth and a diverse financial system.
Passing the Plan for Prosperity would help strengthen our communities, our economic recovery. Congress should act without delay.
Stephen W. Rice is vice president and director of government relations and communications for the Independent Bankers Association of New York State.