Magazine article American Banker

New Jersey Bankers Group Readmits Savings Institutions

Magazine article American Banker

New Jersey Bankers Group Readmits Savings Institutions

Article excerpt

The New Jersey Bankers Association has reopened its doors to savings banks, reversing 15 years of opposition to their membership.

The March 29 vote to grant savings banks full membership rights was unanimous. Of the 105 member institutions, 65 are community banks.

Banking groups in Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts already have merged with state thrift associations. In Connecticut, a merger is to be voted on today.

While those alliances were motivated by a desire to increase cost efficiency and legislative clout, it is the lobbying factor that dominates in New Jersey.

Savings Banks Wanted In

The Bankers group has lost just 15 members - all as a result of consolidation - over the last five years. But in 1990, savings banks "started saying it would be beneficial to participate in our highly successful legislation and taxation committee," association president Alfred Griffith said in an interview.

Among legislation the committee originated was a bill seeking state authorization for fees assessed by banks when their attorneys review documents related to commercial transactions. A 1989 state bar association policy had advised eliminating such fees as unethical.

The bankers legislation was enacted this year. So was a bill allowing healthy, state-chartered savings banks to convert to a commercial bank charter, and vice versa.

|Commonality of Interests'

That bill was "a piece of legislation in which the savings banks were interested, and we just happened to put the bill in the works," said Mr. Griffith, adding, "So, you see, we really have a commonality of interests.

But that wasn't always the case.

After the state's Banking Act of 1948 eliminated all but a few noticeable differences in the operations of savings and commercial banks, the savings institutions were invited to join the bankers group as full members - and a number of them did. …

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