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Payments
ICBA: “Operation Choke Point” Chokes Off Access to Payment Systems
ICBA told Congress and the Justice Department that DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point” initiative undermines the department’s effectiveness and create serious risks to consumers and the economy.

In a coalition statement to the House Financial Services Committee and in a letter to DOJ, ICBA wrote that holding payment processors and financial institutions responsible for the actions of companies engaged in higher-risk, but legal, activities could have unintended consequences on consumers. ICBA called on DOJ to suspend the Operation Choke Point initiative, which made headlines in American Banker.

ICBA noted in its letter to DOJ that the current regulatory environment, which includes numerous regulators, is sufficient to ensure that banks implement sound risk management and fraud and consumer protection. In its statement to Congress, the association said Operation Choke Point threatens to reduce payment services for consumers and close access to the financial system to law-abiding businesses.

Operation Choke Point is a DOJ initiative that targets third-party payment processors and their financial institutions, including community banks, that process payments for businesses engaged in higher-risk, legal activities.

Read ICBA Release. Read Coalition Statement. Read ICBA Letter to DOJ.


Plan for Prosperity
ICBA to Congress: Community Bank Reg Relief Supports Local Economies, Jobs
ICBA told Congress that community banks nationwide have identified regulatory burden as a top concern in providing credit in their communities. In a statement for a House Financial Services Committee hearing, ICBA said reducing regulatory burdens will help expand local economies and create jobs in local communities.

ICBA detailed its multi-pronged Plan for Prosperity platform, which is designed to reduce excessive regulation for community banks while supporting greater regulatory accountability.

ICBA thanked the committee for passing legislation with Plan for Prosperity provisions, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Act (H.R. 3193) and the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 1062).

The association also called on Congress to adopt the CLEAR Relief Act (H.R. 1750) and the JOBS Act (H.R. 4304) to continue advancing provisions of the plan. Read ICBA Statement. Read ICBA Release.


Regulation
ICBA Responds to Fed Volcker Rule Extension for CLOs
ICBA said that while it commends bank regulators for trying to address the Volcker Rule impact on collateralized loan obligations, the association still believes that CLOs should be completely exempted from the Volcker Rule.

“The record clearly shows that Congress never intended to cover TruPS CDOs or CLOs as ‘covered funds’ under the Volcker Rule, nor was it the intent of Congress for the Volcker Rule to adversely impact community banks,” ICBA President and CEO Cam Fine said.

The statement follows the Federal Reserve Board’s announcement that it plans to give banking entities two additional one-year extensions to conform their ownership interests in and sponsorship of certain CLOs covered by the Volcker Rule. Together, the extensions would run until July 21, 2017.

ICBA said it will continue to call on the agencies to exempt all TruPS CDOs and CLOs from the Volcker Rule and to support legislation (H.R. 4167) that would allow community banks to retain debt securities of CLOs issued before Jan. 31, 2014. Read More from the Fed. Read ICBA Statement.


Capital
Regulators Approve Leverage Ratio Standards for Largest Banks
The FDIC board of directors and the Federal Reserve Board approved a final rule to implement enhanced supplementary leverage ratio standards on the nation’s largest financial institutions.

Under the rule, the eight largest financial institutions would be subject to a 6 percent supplementary leverage ratio and a 5 percent standard on their bank holding companies. The higher capital levels would apply to bank holding companies with $700 billion or more in total consolidated assets or more than $10 trillion in assets under custody.

The regulators also issued a proposed rule to revise the denominator measure for the supplementary leverage ratio and introduce related public disclosure requirements. The changes would apply to all advanced-approaches banking organizations.

In an October comment letter to federal financial regulators, ICBA wrote that the leverage ratio plan would help rein in the nation’s too-big-to-fail problem and account for the kinds of derivatives exposures that affected many financial institutions and exacerbated the last economic crisis.



Deposit Insurance
FDIC: DIF Balance Tops $47B at End of ’13
At the FDIC’s board meeting, staff presented an update on the Deposit Insurance Fund showing that the DIF balance rose to $47.2 billion at the end of last year, resulting in a reserve ratio of 0.79 percent. Staff projected that under the current assessment rate schedule, the DIF reserve ratio will reach 1.15 percent in 2019.

The Dodd-Frank Act requires the FDIC to offset the effect of increasing the reserve ratio from 1.15 percent to 1.35 percent on institutions with less than $10 billion in assets. FDIC staff said they intend to present a proposed rule to the FDIC board to implement this requirement when the DIF reserve ratio is closer to 1.15 percent. Read FDIC DIF Briefing.



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Regulation
FDIC Advisory Committee on Community Banking Meeting Today
The FDIC Advisory Committee on Community Banking is scheduled to meet today. The meeting will include an update from staff on the FDIC's community bank initiatives and discussions on cybersecurity, the FDIC's ombudsman program and supervisory appeals process, customer due diligence and reporting requirements, and qualified and nonqualified mortgages.

Established in May 2009, the Advisory Committee on Community Banking discusses and provides input to the FDIC on topics such as examination policies and procedures, credit and lending practices, deposit insurance assessments, insurance coverage and regulatory compliance.

The meeting is open to the public and will be webcast live on the FDIC's website. View Agenda and Webcast.


Agriculture
House Ag Committee to Adopt Amended CFTC Reauthorization
The House Agriculture Committee today is scheduled to mark up the bipartisan Customer Protection and End User Relief Act (H.R. 4413), legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The legislation seeks to address several issues raised by agriculture and other business sectors regarding implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act’s treatment of end users using derivatives or swaps. It also tackles concerns with protecting customers’ funds from future market failures, such as MF Global and Peregrine Financial, and requires the CFTC to quantify the costs and benefits of future regulations. View the Bill and Summary.


Go Local
Community Banking Month Continues with Social Media Contest
ICBA continues to celebrate Community Banking Month this week by offering custom resources for community banks and continuing its ad blitz in the nation’s capital ahead of the ICBA Washington Policy Summit.

ICBA offers a Marketing and Communications Toolkit with customizable resources to help community bankers celebrate Community Banking Month throughout April. Meanwhile, ads on Washington, D.C.-area buses, trains and a key Capitol Hill Metro station are will run through the ICBA Washington Policy Summit, slated for April 29-May 2 in the nation’s capital.

Community bankers can celebrate Community Banking Month by tweeting with the #BankLocally hashtag and sharing their photos with ICBA on Facebook.

Additionally, community bankers coming to the nation’s capital for the Washington Policy Summit can enter a social media contest. Community bankers who tweet ICBA a photo of themselves and a #BankLocally Metro ad will be entered for one of five $50 gift cards. Learn More About the Contest.



In the News
ICBA Discusses Tech, Reg Burden On the Air
ICBA discussed emerging tech trends in community banking and the impact of excessive regulatory burdens on the industry in broadcast interviews.

Appearing on “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU-FM (Washington, D.C.), ICBA Vice President of Payments and Technology Policy Cary Whaley discussed banking and payments technologies employed by community banks.

In an appearance on the Fox Business Network, ICBA Senior Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Terry Jorde noted that community banks have faced increasing regulation that takes up excessive time and resources.


Rates
Survey: Community Banks Offer Best Interest Rates
Community banks lead the pack with the best overall interest rates among financial institutions, according to a survey from personal finance website GOBankingRates.com. The survey found that the highest rate at local institutions, 4.00 percent APY, is more than seven times the top rate at large, national banks.


Agriculture
USDA Announces Signup for Livestock Disaster Aid
The USDA announced that sign-up for livestock and forage losses will begin April 15 in addition to sign-up for production losses impacting several other types of losses. The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, including calendar years 2012-14. Farmers and ranchers who also grow or raise fruit, honeybees, nursery trees, or farm-raised fish are also eligible for assistance. Fact sheets are available from local USDA offices.



Poll
Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on the end of Microsoft support for Windows XP, and view results from the previous poll on celebrating Community Banking Month. View the Archive.


Education
ICBA Call Report Audio Call Tomorrow
Each year the call report experiences revisions, and 2014 is no different. An ICBA audio conference scheduled for 11 a.m. (Eastern time) Thursday, April 10, will review the 2014 revisions related to remittance transfers, trade names, consumer deposit accounts and regulatory capital as well as a recap of 2013 revisions. Learn More and Register.


Products and Services
Flood-Preparedness Checklist Available
Floods are one of the most common and widespread natural disasters and continue to grow in frequency and severity. With advance preparation, you can limit your recovery expenses and ensure your organization stays afloat.
ICBA Preferred Service Provider Agility Recovery offers a flood-preparedness checklist on how to prepare and protect equipment, activities to undertake during a flood, how to communicate with employees, and general flood awareness and safety tips. Read the Checklist.


Products and Services
Webinar Tomorrow Provides Q1 Regulatory Compliance Briefing
Keeping up with regulatory changes has become a daunting challenge for community banks. The “RegAdvisor Quarterly Regulatory Compliance Briefing” from Continuity Control, an ICBA Preferred Service Provider, will help ease the effort required to analyze and track all the recent changes. Slated for 1 p.m. (Eastern time) tomorrow, the webinar will provide practical insights on what the most recent regulations mean to an institution, assess the workload you can expect, and offer critical actions to avoid potential penalties. Register Now.










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