The PACB Annual Convention had something for all attendees, speakers and exhibitors. There was the backdrop of the beautiful city of Boston complete with Fenway Park and Yawkey Way, various shopping centers within walking distance, the informative panel discussions on community banking, and of course the casual relaxed atmosphere of catching up with other community bankers from around Pennsylvania. For one attendee in particular, the setting was a welcome reprieve from the gridlock and hustle and bustle of Washington.
Comptroller of the Currency, Thomas Curry was the keynote speaker at this year’s convention and was fresh from giving headline grabbing remarks about the Financial Accounting Stability Board (FASB) and cyber-security. Many attendees were anxious to hear what he had to share with Pennsylvania’s community bankers and have an opportunity to discuss relevant topics with one of the most powerful men in the regulatory world.
Being back in his hometown of Boston, Curry told the audience that it gives him a better perspective on the world of banking and regulation. He offered that there is a temptation to get consumed by the environment of Washington and pay no mind to the unintended impact of regulation.
“The work we do in Washington is important,” said Curry as he opened his remarks to the convention attendees, “but it’s easy to lose touch with the real world, including the concerns of community bankers and their customers, if you stay there (Washington) long enough and don’t make a point of getting out on a regular basis.”
He acknowledged the difficult economic environment and the unfavorable climate banks are facing in an economy that is still recovering from one of the longest lasting recessions in recent memory.
“I know it’s not an easy time to be a community banker. In Pennsylvania, many of you are working against the backdrop of an economy that is still struggling,” said Curry before citing many of the concerns on the minds of attendees. “Loan demand is soft, the net margin is under pressure, fee income is harder to come by, and some provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, such as the requirements that we eliminate the use of credit rating in our regulations, have had a disproportionate impact upon community banks.”
Rather than sugar-coating the most obvious problems and encouraging a “keep calm and carry on” pattern of thinking, he spoke to the issues that no community bank is immune from but implored attendees not to grow disheartened with the bleak forecast.
“It’s not just a question of coping with traditional problems like loan quality and asset concentrations. It’s the new things as well. New regulations, new agencies, and new types of risks to manage, such as the threat of cyber-attacks,” said Curry painting a rather glum picture of the current financial situation.
“But while your jobs aren’t easy, they’re important – and you’re important. You’re important because your banks are an essential part of our nation’s economic fabric. You make loans to small businesses, municipal government, farmers, and families.”
Read the full article in November’s issue of Transactions. Aren’t a subscriber? Visit the Transactions page on this website or call PACB at 717-231-7447 to start receiving the magazine.