Savings and Community Bankers of American has endorsed Channel Link Capital Partners, Washington, to provide thrifts with fair-lending help.

The consulting company, founded in 1991, uses diversity training along with computer analysis tot each lenders how to avoid loan bias. SCBA member will receive a 5% discount on the company's services.

"Channel Link's unique blend of knowledge and skills, comfocus on loan quality, will be of great benefit to SCBA members at a time when the government is devoting more attention to compliance with fair-lending laws," said Thomas A. Pfeiler, president of SCBA Development Services.

Using Home Mortgatge Disclosure Act Data, Channel Link helps banks with fair-lending selfevaluation, second-look revies, file audits, and training.

Institutions can hire Channel Link to revamp their entire fair-lending process or separate parts. The minimum commitment is $12,000.

Most institutions should begin with a "needs assessment," said Michael Taliefero, a managing director of Channel Link.

That analysis, which usually takes about three days, gives both parties a starting point and helps develop realistic goals.

"Lenders do not deliberately set out to be unfair or ignore specific populations," Mr. Taliefero said. "But the unintended consequences of inadequate marketing strategies and underwriting practices sometimes have led to unequial results."

Mr. Taliefero said his job was to convince institutions that fair lending is a business issue.

Channel Link works from the bottom up at an institution, concentrating on the compliance officers rather than the CEO. While the top people might sign off on decisions, be said, it's the lower ranks that actually meet with ban applicants and implement strategies.

Maurice Jourdain-Earl, also a managing director, said a comparative file review can be the most revealing aspect of an analysis. It shows disparate impact by identifying marginally approved whites and marginally denied minorities, he said.

Channel Link can then use that internal data to custom-train employees.

It is advanlageous to institutions to have employees of different races and ethnic backgrounds, he said, because it encourages minorities to apply. "Just a few minority loan officers will make a huge difference," Mr. Earl said.

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