On May 4, OCC Comptroller Thomas J. Curry delivered remarks at the third outreach meeting held under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA) in Boston. In his remarks the Comptroller acknowledged that smaller banks and thrifts don’t have the same kind of resources that large institutions can bring to bear on regulatory compliance, and noted that if they could eliminate unnecessary rules and streamline others, it would make it easier for these smaller institutions to serve the economic needs of their communities. With this in mind, it is expected that a fourth outreach meeting will be announced later this year focused solely on rural banks, which face their own unique challenges.
Curry noted that the agency continuing to work with Congress and the FFIEC to remove the outdated and onerous regulatory requirements currently imposed on these institutions: “If it is clear that a regulation is unduly burdensome, and if we have the authority to make changes to eliminate that burden, we will act.” Currently, the agency has presented lawmakers with three specific proposals to remove regulatory burden on smaller banks: (i) raise the asset threshold from $500 million to $750 million so that a greater number of community banks qualify for the 18-month examination cycle; (ii) provide a community bank exemption from the Volcker Rule; and (iii) provide greater flexibility to federal savings associations to change and expand their business strategies without changing their governance structure. Curry further stated, “I think these legislative proposals are meaningful steps which could help a great number of smaller institutions. But we shouldn’t stop there. We should be looking at every approach that might help community banks thrive in the modern financial world.”
In addition Curry noted the success of collaborative ventures between banks.”There are opportunities to save money by collaborating on accounting, clerical support, data processing, employee benefit planning, health insurance – and the list goes on.”