Hammer out to Nail New Powers: Washington Is Further from New York Than It Seems, Chase Manhattan's Top Retail Banker Finds

By Trigaux, Robert | American Banker, February 27, 1984 | Go to article overview

Hammer out to Nail New Powers: Washington Is Further from New York Than It Seems, Chase Manhattan's Top Retail Banker Finds


Trigaux, Robert, American Banker


WASHINGTON -- Fred Hammer was frustated. After another recent morning spent on Capitol Hill selling bank deregulation in congressional testimony, he had a lot to get off his chest.

Here are some pearls of wisdom from the Chase Manhattan Bank executive vice president:

* "Who wins? Real Estate? Insurance? Securities? For banks, it's hard to set priorities. Many small banks already have insurance abilities, so they first may want real estate powers. Big banks may want municipal underwriting powers."

* "Personally, I think the least onerous and most likely-to-pass power is securites, then real estate, then insurance. But in terms of benefit to the consumer, it's the opposite." Insurance -- offered by banks, Mr. Hammer says -- would most benefit consumers. But it is least likely to occur.

* Among bank trade associations, "It's no longer a unified banking position across the board. Many institutions are rethinking the inevitability, are questioning the unspoken assumption, of being a member of the American Bankers Association."

His is the frustration of increasing numbers of bankers who come to this capital city to influence lawmakers. All have a bone to pick, an interest to promote. The reality is, as Mr. Hammer readily agrees, that too many banker's interest are miles apart and growing wider.

Giant Chase Manhattan wants broader powers, for instance, but especially wants interstate banking. A majority of independent, smaller banks vigorously oppose across-state-border banking.

Often Congress hears one banker's call for deregulation one day, another banker's plea for protected markets the next. How does Congress ultimately choose? New York Pragmatist, Washington Activist

In New York, Frederick S. Hammer rules Chase Manhattan's retail banking world with a tough blend of the pragmatic manager and intellectual professor. Here in Washington he's become an activist, taking proderegulation stands which represent the broader retail banking sphere of the Consumer Bankers Association. He is also preparing to step into the trade group's chairmanship in October.

"Yes, there is some conflict between the American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association," Mr. Hammer admitted during an interview en route to Washington's Dulles Airport. "Changes in the market, in technology, and the world have heightened the differences between [trade group memberships.]

"When the ABA reaches a consensus that leaves large banking segments in disagreement, one way to go around [this] is to voice opinions in other trade groups." Chase is a member of ABA as well as other trade groups, but is CBA participation and Mr. Hammer's extra muscle permit Chase opinions that would be lost in the broad membership concensus process at ABA.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Hammer had presented Congress with CBA's position of "parity" among bank and nonbank institutions in product and geographic deregulation. …

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