NY Bankers, Insurers Call for New Powers; Assembly Committee Approves Stock Bill

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Banking and insurance industry representatives called for the right to compete in the financial services arena at the first hearing of the Temporary State Commission on Financial Services held Tuesday in Albany.

Meanwhile, while representatives were testifying before the commission, the Assembly banking committee unanimously endorsed legislation permitting state-chartered savings banks and savings and loan associations to have a stock-ownership option. The measure moves to the ways and means committee before going to the full Assembly for action.

It is expected that similar legislation will be on the Senate banking committee's agenda on Jan. 17.

At the Albany commission hearing, Howard st. John chairman of the ulster Savings Bank and chairman of the government relations committee of the Savings Banks Association of New York State, indicated the association does not object to anyone receiving any powers that would enhance their ability to compete "as long as we, the savings banks, are given an equal opportunity.

"Although most of the savings banks in this state prefer to be state-chartered and state-regulated institutions, competition and the ability to compete will be the determining factor in decisions that must be made to insure that savings banks recover as individual institutions and as an industry," he said.

Mr. St. John endorsed recommendations that would allow thrifts to be depositories for municipal funds, would remove restrictive limits on establishing branches, and would restructure the alternative franchise tax to make it more equitable. Few State-Chartered Thrifts Left

"There are only 15 state-chartered savings and loan associations and 72 state-chartered savings banks left in the state," Mr. St. John said. "Your failure to act affirmatively in our behalf will be similar to laying down the gauntlet which in effect says 'go do better elsewhere.'"

Victor Riley Jr., president and chief executive officer of Key Banks Inc. and president of the New York State Bankers Association, reflected the point of view supporting the expansion of powers for all sectors of the financial services industry in a manner which protects consumers and the safety and soundness of all intermediaries. …