Magazine article American Banker

Community Banks to Elizabeth Warren: We Need Your Help

Magazine article American Banker

Community Banks to Elizabeth Warren: We Need Your Help

Article excerpt

Byline: Alejandro M. Sanchez

Sen. Elizabeth Warren continues to be in the news a lot.

Sen. Warren recently received the media's focus as she questioned a member of the United States banking sector. During this questioning, she was passionate, inquisitive and forceful in her line of questioning. Our industry condemns dishonest or unethical practices at any FDIC-insured bank, anywhere, anytime.

Trust is the very foundation of the banking profession. I know that firsthand as an immigrant to the United States because I saw how bankers helped and guided my Spanish-speaking parents in this new land. My immigrant parents eventually became homeowners because of their trusted advisor at an FDIC-insured bank. That happens each and every day in our country.

We are experiencing significantly weak economic recovery and growth by historical standards. Community banks play a pivotal role in their state and national economies. They make 50% of the small-business loans made in America. While the small-business sector is the heart and soul of our economy, small businesses are down by 25% over the last six years and many community banks have merged or been acquired. Fewer community banks may mean fewer small businesses. Is there perhaps correlation? Could it all be related to the avalanche of Dodd-Frank rules?

During Warren's tenure in the Senate, she has questioned our nation's larger banks, but what has she done to help our community banks? Between 1995 and 2007, our country averaged 125 startup community banks per year, a period that included both good times and bad. That was before President Obama and the 2010 Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act. Since the law's passage, we have had only three new community banks chartered in the U.S.

The banking industry has been advocating for a tailored regulatory banking system for more than five years. Community and regional banks have been calling for Dodd-Frank regulatory relief on Capitol Hill. However, Congress and President Obama have failed to act on those requests. Larger banks have also pushed for relief for community and regional banks. How do I know this? As president of the Florida Bankers Association, an association that represents institutions of all sizes, I have seen our larger bank members walk the hallways of Congress advocating for our community and regional banks.

With community banks playing such a pivotal role in business startups, why hasn't Warren pushed to achieve regulatory relief for our community banks? …

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