A State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. executive told regulators Wednesday that activists unfairly accuse his firm of ignoring the needs of minority and low-income consumers.
Stanley R. Ommen, president and chief executive of State Farm Financial Services, told officials from the Office of Thrift Supervision that 37% of the insurer's customers were low-income. Also, State Farm has opened 23 offices in inner cities since 1994, he said.
Mr. Ommen's remarks were made during a closed-door hearing here on the insurer's application to charter a federal thrift. State Farm released a copy of Mr. Ommen's remarks.
Several community groups have challenged the thrift application, arguing that the firm does not do enough to serve low-income and minority areas. They also have criticized as inadequate the company's three-year, $195 million community reinvestment pledge.
In remarks prepared for delivery at the hearing, Malcom Bush, president of Chicago-based Woodstock Institute, urged OTS to require State Farm to fulfill CRA obligations in every community where it offers banking products. Mr. Bush said State Farm wants to limit its CRA efforts to Bloomington, Ill., where it is headquartered.
Mr. Bush said how State Farm is allowed to define its community "will establish a critical precedent for the terms under which insurance companies enter the banking business."
OTS is expected to decide shortly whether to give State Farm a thrift charter.