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Plan for Prosperity
ICBA Urges House Members to Advance Key Reg-Relief Bills
ICBA reiterated its strong support for several regulatory relief bills that are up for House consideration this week. The five bills inspired by ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity platform are designed to relieve community banks from excessive regulatory burdens.

The full House this week is scheduled to take up two ICBA-advocated bills. H.R. 3329 would increase the qualifying asset threshold of the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement from $500 million to $1 billion and allow small savings and loan holding companies to be covered by its provisions. The legislation, which ICBA again advocated yesterday in a letter to the House, would make it easier for community bank and thrift holding companies to raise both debt and equity and downstream the proceeds to subsidiary banks.

A separate ICBA-advocated bill (H.R. 2672) would create a process in which individuals could petition the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to have the rural status of a county reassessed. This bill, which ICBA urged the House to pass in a separate letter, would allow a broader range of evaluation criteria, more accurately identify rural counties and help ensure continued access to mortgage credit in those communities.

Separately, ICBA expressed strong support for legislation scheduled for consideration by the House Financial Services Committee tomorrow. In a letter to the committee, ICBA called on committee members to approve:
  • H.R. 4521, which would exempt community bank portfolio loans from new escrow requirements and raise the small-servicer exemption threshold from 5,000 to 20,000 loans,
  • H.R. 4466, which would require federal financial regulators to consider whether proposed regulations are duplicative or inconsistent with existing regulations before issuing them, and
  • H.R. 2673, which would provide that any residential mortgage held in portfolio by the originator is a qualified mortgage.
The House action on these critical regulatory relief measures immediately follows last week’s ICBA Washington Policy Summit. The grassroots event drew more than 1,000 community bankers and industry advocates to the nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress and regulators on ICBA’s top policy priorities.

ICBA, Coalition Propose Revised Check-Collection Rules
ICBA and a coalition of financial organizations submitted a joint comment letter to the Federal Reserve Board on its proposed revisions to Regulation CC. The coalition provided comments on two proposed alternatives to replace the current expeditious return rule. It also offered recommendations for the eventual phase-out of paper return.

The coalition wrote that it does not support the Fed’s first alternative because it neither requires expeditious returns by the paying and returning banks nor requires that all banks in the return channel use an electronic return route. The groups wrote that the second alternative is preferable to the first because it encourages paying and returning banks to return items within the electronic channel to meet the expeditious return obligation.

However, the coalition does not support the second alternative either, due to operational difficulties. It recommended several revisions, including a modified forward collection test and a modified notice of repayment, as well as a proposal to achieve 100 percent electronic return in the near future.

ICBA Briefs Tennessee Bankers in Washington
ICBA staff members briefed Tennessee bankers who are in Washington for meetings with policymakers.

In a meeting with approximately 90 Tennessee Bankers Association members, ICBA Executive Vice President of Congressional Relations and Chief Economist Paul Merski and ICBA Senior Vice President of Mortgage Finance Policy Ron Haynie discussed several top ICBA priorities.

Merski and Haynie discussed progress on regulatory relief legislation inspired by ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity platform, ongoing housing-finance reform, and the association’s efforts targeting the credit union and Farm Credit System tax subsidies.

ICBA NewsWatch Today is sponsored by QR Lending:
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Holder: No One is Too Big to Jail
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said there is no such thing as too-big-to-jail. In his weekly video message, Holder said no individual or company, no matter how large or profitable, is above the law.

Holder testified last year before the Senate Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement officials have hesitated to prosecute Wall Street firms because of their size and interconnectedness.

In a news release following that testimony, ICBA President and CEO Cam Fine said Holder’s statements confirmed that megabanks receive favorable treatment, not only economically but in the U.S. justice system as well.

ICBA continues to strongly support policies to reduce too-big-to-fail institutions’ systemic risks, taxpayer-based subsidies, and unfair competitive advantages.

Target CEO Steps Down Following Data Breach
Target announced the resignation of Chairman, President and CEO Gregg Steinhafel, nearly five months after the retailer disclosed a massive data breach. The board said Steinhafel held himself personally accountable for the 2013 breach and pledged that Target would emerge a better company. Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan has been appointed interim president and CEO.

Survey: Bank Ease Lending Policies on C&I, CRE Loans
Banks eased their lending policies for commercial-and-industrial and commercial-real-estate loans and experienced stronger demand for both types over the past three months, according to the latest Federal Reserve senior loan officer survey. The survey also found that banks eased standards on consumer credit card and auto loans and tightened standards on nontraditional closed-end mortgage loans.

ISM: Services Sector Advances in April
Economic activity in the services sector grew in April at a faster pace than the previous month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The ISM’s non-manufacturing index rose 2.1 percentage points to 55.2 percent in April on higher business activity and new orders.

Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on tiered regulation, and view results from the previous poll on meeting with Congress.
View the Archive.

ICBA Audio Call: Avoiding Default on Trust Preferred Securities
Trust-preferred securities placed into the allowable 20-quarter deferral period near the beginning of the Great Recession are now approaching default. An ICBA audio conference scheduled for 11 a.m. (Eastern time) Tuesday, May 13, will provide an overview of the various options available on how to deal with TruPS holders and how to avoid default on TruPS. Learn More and Register.

ICBA Securities Hosting Free Webinar on Investment Strategies
ICBA Securities is hosting a free webinar next week on the popular securities and portfolio strategies used by successful community banks. “Current Investment Strategies and Products,” slated for 11 a.m. (Eastern time) Wednesday, May 14, will cover interest rate trends, securities showing value today, high-performing portfolios and bonds built for rising rates. Learn More and Register.

Products and Services
Go Lean and Maximize the Benefits of the Cloud
With the demise of Windows XP, community banks are faced with what to do with older machines running an unsupported operating system and how to replace them in the most efficient manner. Learn how ICBA Strategic Technology Solutions can help community banks to “Go Lean and Maximize the Benefits of the Cloud” by repurposing your PCs rather than replacing them. Read the Article.

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