The American Bankers Association's annual regulatory conference in Boston this week focuses on offering practical advice to compliance officers saddled with growing responsibilities.

The trade group expected about 500 to attend.

The conference aims to get beyond the basics and into real solutions, said Kate Barr, senior vice president of Riverside Bank, Minneapolis, and 1995 chairman of the ABA compliance executive committee.

"This year, we tried to focus on nitty-gritty compliance management tools," Ms. Barr said. "Bankers don't need to come to this conference and be told the Community Reinvestment Act is an issue."

Bankers are to get tips on how to develop mission statements. They also are to hear regulatory strategies from successful compliance officers, she said. Most speakers at the conference are bankers because the ABA wanted experts in the business - not theorists lacking a working knowledge of banking.

Several key regulators, including Julie Williams, chief counsel to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Griffith Garwood, director of consumer and community affairs at the Federal Reserve Board, also will speak and be on hand to answer questions.

Some sessions, such as those on the new Community Reinvestment Act rules, fair lending, and the Bank Secrecy Act reflect the fact that these are among the most difficult compliance issues.

Rules governing nondeposit investments, flood insurance, and insider lending also will be covered at the conference.

The ABA expects both compliance officers and chief executives to attend, as senior managers get more involved in compliance.

"After some rough times with exams, management is much more inclined to dedicate the necessary resources," said Ms. Barr. "It's much easier to get money to go to a conference or to get compliance software."

Convention participants will be able to check out plenty of compliance software on display in the exhibition hall.

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