I’ll admit it—I’ve been told a time or two that I march to the beat of my own drum. And that’s perfectly fine by me. As you well know, we at ICBA proudly represent just one constituency—community banks. So having an oft-unique perspective comes with the territory.
Nevertheless, it can be a real pleasure hearing the same tune from someone else, especially if it’s from a powerful voice on an issue we care deeply about it. And so it was with a recent speech from the leader of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the national organization representing state banking regulators.
John Ryan, the CSBS president and CEO, last week gave a speech in Chicago in which he eloquently espoused what is perhaps ICBA’s signature issue—the need to structure financial regulations in line with the size and complexity of affected institutions. The need to right-size our regulations—to ensure community banks can survive, thrive and continue serving their communities—is at the heart of just about everything ICBA does. As I’ve said before, relieving community banks from excessive regulatory burden is Job No. 1 at ICBA.
John Ryan proved that he gets it and showed that Washington needs to start singing from the same hymnal as well. “I challenge us regulators to ensure that regulation is not the reason that a $35 million bank sells or self-liquidates,” he said. “If we find we can’t differentiate between business models, if we must accept centralized, complex and intrusive regulation as necessary for all to respond to the risks posed by the largest banks, then I believe we need to go back to the drawing board.”
Hear, hear! I couldn’t have said it better myself. But he didn’t stop there. He also noted that too many policymakers in Washington view our consolidating banking industry not only as not a bad thing—but even a good thing. This after too-big-to-fail financial firms devastated our economy only to be rewarded with billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance.
These inequities and distorted incentives are almost enough to make me want to crawl under a rock. Almost, but not quite, because hearing these words from a representative of banking regulators in all 50 states makes it clear that the community banking voice is being heard! These are words of encouragement! This isn’t a funeral dirge—it’s a battle cry.
With our Plan for Prosperity regulatory relief platform, our strong presence in Washington and across the nation, and our ongoing grassroots outreach, ICBA and the community banking industry have the instruments we need to continue our efforts for regulatory parity. John Ryan’s words have reaffirmed my commitment to beating the drum of tiered regulation, and I know you’ll be there with me.