Community banks are already subject to very strict consumer financial laws and work hard to adhere to and comply with those laws. We urge the Congress to be careful in shaping consumer protection policies in order to avoid enacting sweeping provisions that will create new and very restrictive policies on community banks already staggering under mountains of regulatory paperwork that even Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren has stated make no sense.
Just last week, a banker sent me a 57-page consumer examination officers questionnaire containing specific and complex questions digging into every detail of the banks consumer credits. Failing to answer a question or giving a false answer can result in civil and/or criminal penalties to the banker. And this is not Citibank; this is a $46-million-asset local bank in a town of fewer than 2,000 people! The questionnaire has 11 more pages than the bank has total assets!
Do we need yet another full examination force and new rules, fees and a new bureaucracy on that little $46-million-asset bank? All that will be accomplished is that the bank will collapse under the new burdens causing the town to lose its only bank, which in turn will mean that the consumers of that little town will be denied credit. Eventually the town will wither and die.
We cant afford to let that happen. Independent Community Bankers of America and the thousands of community banks we represent stand ready to work for common-sense consumer protection measures to make sure our fellow citizens and customers never are duped again by unscrupulous providers of financial products. We want to make the credit-granting process a win-win situation for both the local bank and the consumer which is the hallmark of community banking.
Camden R. Fine is president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America.