Challenges and Opportunities

Article excerpt

It's hard to believe, but in many ways I owe my career to bank regulation. Back in 1981, my bank was presented with its share of regulatory challenges. But as they say, in every challenge lies opportunity.

The first challenge was from the FDIC to the board, and it came in the form of a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU). The second was from my board of directors to the bank's president directing him to "Start a compliance program and put someone in charge of it now" or they'd find someone who would. And the third was a challenge from my bank president informing me that the responsibility would largely lie with me in my newly minted position as compliance officer.

Had I not been a naïve 23- year-old I would have run. But eager for the opportunity and thrilled to be an "officer" I took my "IBAA Deskbook to Consumer Compliance Regulations" home every night and studied it. Then I came back to the bank each day to learn what area the alphabet soup regulations affected.

Step by step, we put a program in place, worked our way out of the MOU and passed the next exam. In some twisted way, it allowed me to learn every department's function in order to understand how a regulation affected policies, procedures and customer service.

A lot has changed in the past 25 years. My bank president didn't survive the required attitude adjustment. More than 800 new regulations have since passed. And when regulators revisited the regulatory alphabet soup, I stopped seeing the opportunity!

In fact, as ICBA chairman, I have accepted regulatory burden as one of our most critical challenges and have witnessed the dramatic decline in the total number of institutions from 14,780 in 1980 to 8,830 in 2005. …