ORLANDO - Community bankers are much more concerned with losing market share than they are with the regulatory burden, a preliminary survey by the American Bankers Association and Bank Marketing Association shows.

Forty-three percent of bankers attending the trade groups' national conference for community bankers in Orlando this week said loss of market share is the No. 1 issue facing their business.

Just 14% of the 208 respondents said regulatory compliance is the biggest problem facing the industry. About 600 bankers attended the conference.

The turnabout is unusual because over the years bankers have been complaining that the amount of time and money spent on compliance is overwhelming. Nevertheless, their worries about loss of market share are well founded. Larger bankers have increased their asset size over the past 10 years, while banks under $1 billion in assets have shown market share losses, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. statistics.

"We're not doing a good job addressing what consumers need, and that's why we're losing our market share," said J. Sherman Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Community Group Inc., a Chattanooga, Tenn., bank holding company.

A myriad of compliance requirements still have been ominous enough to make 20% of respondents say they have seriously considered surrendering their bank charter because of the current level of regulatory burden.

But David L. Tapp, chief executive officer of $500 million-asset Overton Bank and Trust, Fort Worth, Tex., wasn't one of them.

"I think the regulation is a tremendous burden, but we're working on that," Mr. Tapp said. "What would their choice be," he asked of those who would consider switching, "unless you go to a credit union or something like that?"

Meanwhile, when asked what they will do with the savings from lower FDIC premiums, 37% said they will plow the funds back into capital, while just 5% said they would lower customer fees and 3% said they would offer lower loan rates.

"Most of us have stockholders to worry about," said Mr. Tapp. "Fees are already as low as they can be."

R. Kay Talley, president of $110 million-asset Harrisburg National Bank in Illinois, said he too, will add the savings to the bank's capital.

"It's not going to be enough money that it's going to affect the rate structures," he said.

But Craig R. Curry, president and chief executive officer of $90 million-asset Central Bank in Lebanon, Mo., planned to set aside his savings.

"I think it's just common sense," he said. "Consumer groups are out there, and they're going to see banks getting all this money back and they're going to . . . demand something happen" to restructure bank fees, he said.

About 34% of the respondents said they would invest in technology, while 20% said they would lend out the money.

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