March 15 - Independent Community Bankers of America President and CEO Camden R. Fine spoke to community bankers gathered at the 2013 ICBA National Convention and Techworld in Las Vegas. Quoting the phrases, “we weren’t born to follow,” “you’ve gotta hold on to what you believe” and “we don’t care what they say — we know we’ll find a way,” Fine ran though a list of ICBA’s advocacy accomplishments on behalf of community banks. He also emphasized what ICBA and community bankers have yet to achieve to ensure an environment where community banks can flourish and continue to serve their local customers and communities.
“Rarely is there anything shaped specifically for a community bank without a fight,” Fine said before community bankers. “But being the underdog also makes us strong and effective, because we are consistently underestimated by those who oppose us. ICBA was the underdog against Wal-Mart—no one and I mean no one gave us a prayer of stopping them from getting an FDIC-insured bank charter. But we did!”
Fine went on to reference other tireless ICBA advocacy efforts that resulted in wins for community banks, including changes to the FDIC premium assessment formula to help level the playing field between community banks and the megabanks, slowing down and changing Basel III regulatory capital proposals, creating a safe harbor in the Qualified Mortgage rule for community banks, significantly modifying proposed remittance rules and changing the SEC shareholder registration threshold. “These are just a few of the many successes we have achieved together for community banks in the past decade—all because we weren’t born to follow and we held on to what we believe,” Fine said.
In speaking about community bankers’ frustrations with regulatory burden and the difficult operating environment, Fine told them to not give up. “Keep fighting; keep doing what you are doing because we will win,” he said. “We will prevail over regulatory burden, unreasonable government intrusion, unfair competitors and all the rest. As evidence of this, read the recent speeches by several of the Federal Reserve presidents, look at the community banking studies coming out of the think tanks and universities and the recent study released by the New York State Department of Financial Services. As these studies confirm, community banking is vital to this nation.”
Fine said that positive change is coming and that ICBA has a Plan for Prosperity that will benefit community banks and the communities and rural areas they serve. “We have a platform of regulatory and financial reforms created specifically by community bankers for community banks,” he said. “ICBA will be working diligently to enact elements of the Plan for Prosperity during the 113th Congress. In fact, some of the provisions of our plan have already been introduced as bills in Congress.”
In speaking about free markets, Fine said that ICBA will never give up on creating a truly free and balanced financial market where all financial market participants compete on equal footing.
“Community banks have a voice, and through ICBA we will use our voice to ensure our equal and unfettered place in financial markets—regardless of whether you have a commercial, thrift or mutual bank charter,” he said. “In fact, we owe it to our nation’s cultural roots and to our society to stay in there and keep swinging. I will never give up, and ICBA will never give up on community banks.”
To view the video of Fine’s speech, visit the ICBA Community Bank Channel.