Scott Tomlinson had an opportunity to meet the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's deputy director, and he wasn't going to let the opportunity pass without speaking his mind.
Tomlinson, president and chief executive of the $155 million-asset Flint Community Bank in Albany, Ga., said in an interview Monday that he recently used his time with Steven Antonakes to express his concerns that small banks in rural or suburban areas shouldn't be treated like huge banks when it comes to mortgage-loan regulations.
"Large, urban banks are one thing, if you sell $100 million of mortgages on Wall Street," Tomlinson said, discussing some new requirements placed on mortgage lending. "When you're a community banker, you go to church or go to supper club or to school with the people" who are borrowers, he says.
Many times the applicant is self-employed and lack a tax form to document their income, Tomlinson added.
"Sometimes it's a doctor that makes a lot of money that's embedded in a [limited liability company]" and is thus difficult to document, he said. "It's not just poor, lower-income people" who are having trouble qualifying for a mortgage.
Tomlinson met with Antonakes last month at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, along with other members of the Community Bankers Association of Georgia, where Tomlinson is a director. Representatives from the Georgia Bankers Association were also invited.
The gathering, which wasn't announced to the public beforehand, was requested by Georgia's two banking trade associations, Tomlinson said.
"Our lobbyists have put enough pressure on them to sit down and talk with us," Tomlinson said.
A CFPB spokesman described the situation differently. The bureau initiated the meeting and invited the trade associations, he said Thursday. He also denied that Georgia bank lobbyists had put "pressure" on the CFPB to meet and said that such meetings occur "frequently."
Nevertheless, Antonakes seemed sympathetic to Tomlinson's concerns and said he would like to hold a follow-up meeting later.
"They pledged to go back [to Washington] and begin to chronicle" some of the issues that community bankers have raised about mortgage lending, Tomlinson said. "They told us to send them information about when we've had to turn down" mortgage applicants.
A date for the follow-up meeting has not been scheduled, he said.