Slideshow Takeaways from ICBA's Annual Conference

  • March 13 2014, 12:59pm EDT
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Hundreds of community bankers gathered in Honolulu last week, trying to reconcile their sense that the economy is back on track with their concerns about costly regulations and unfair competition. The following is an overview of the conflicting messages they shared and heard.

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Fear and Loathing of Big Banks

Community bankers, including Alan Thian at Royal Business Bank in Los Angeles, are peeved at larger institutions, which they accuse of stealing clients by offering low prices and easy terms.

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Reservations about Reserve Plan

Bankers also fretted about a Fed proposal that could alter how they project, and reserve for, expected loan losses. The plan could price some banks out of making some types of loans, MidSouth Bancorp CEO Rusty Cloutier warned.

Image: Michael Chu

Upbeat Note

ICBA leaders, including CEO Cam Fine, emphasized that loans and profits are on the rise at small banks, and they assured members that they are lobbying hard for regulatory relief.

Image: Bloomberg News

Divided M&A Views

Most calls for an M&A wave come from greedy investment bankers, according to ICBA's Fine, but Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Martin Gruenberg reminded attendees that most consolidation in the past 30 years has involved community banks.

Image: Bloomberg News

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Vendor Scrutiny

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry urged community banks to actively manage IT relationships in light of the recent Target and Neiman Marcus security breaches. "While you can outsource the activity, you can't outsource the risk," he warned.

Image: Bloomberg News

QM Concerns Linger

Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sought to ease bankers' concerns about the new qualified-mortgage rule. Still, bankers complained that it has made certain loans too difficult.

Image: Bloomberg News

VIP Advice

Political pundit Karl Rove urged bankers to educate employees and customers about the issues their institutions face. Hall of Fame football player Jerry Rice told attendees to go out and prove their naysayers wrong.

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Call to Action

John Buhrmaster, a fourth-generation banker from upstate New York, was named ICBA chairman for 2014. He urged bankers to become strong advocates for their industry and in an interview urged them to consider hiking fees to meet revenue challenges.