WASHINGTON A loose coalition of regional banks pushing to change a key Dodd-Frank Act provision has launched a formal organization.
The Regional Bank Coalition is urging lawmakers to remove a $50 billion threshold for enhanced prudential standards. The legislative fight so far has centered on whether the line should be raised or scrapped altogether.
Lobbyists for several banks over $50 billion of assets have urged Congress to instead adopt an approach used by international regulators to assess a bank's interconnectivity and complexity, along with other factors, including size. The banks emphasize their focus on traditional banking activities, compared to the country's megabanks, which are typically more involved in capital markets and derivatives activities.
"As a result of their focus on traditional banking, regional banks do not create systemic exposure through market making or complex networks of interconnected transactions with other financial firms," the group says on its website. "Because they compete with national and community brands every day, regional banks have a culture that focuses on making a difference for their customers and communities. As a result, regional banks are the dependable backbone of the American economy."
The group includes 10 midsize financial institutions: SunTrust, Regions, Huntington, Fifth Third, Capital One, BMO Financial Group, BBVA Compass, BB&T, Bank of the West and American Express.
The banks' move to formalize their lobbying efforts comes as the Senate Banking Committee begins to look at the systemic threshold issue. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., has said he's interested in raising the threshold, and the committee is moving toward a markup on regulatory reform legislation next month. The panel heard from top banking regulators about the $50 billion threshold on March 19, with another hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Deron Smithy, executive vice president and treasurer at Regions, will testify at the second hearing, along with several other industry officials and academics.
"Regional banks didn't cause the systemic financial crisis of 2008, and they don't carry the kind of risk associated with large Wall Street banks," said William Moore, the coalition's executive director, in a press release Monday. "They don't look like the big money center banks, they don't act like them, and they shouldn't be regulated like them."