Community Banks Seek Congress Support at Summit - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner gives remarks at the ICBA Washington Policy Summit.

This week nearly 700 local bank administrators and owners are gathering on Capitol Hill this week to meet with their members of Congress and advocate for legislation that affects them. The event, which began March 12 and runs through March 14, is a part of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) Washington Policy Summit, an annual meeting that provides community bankers an avenue for addressing their top concerns and grievances.

There are more than 8,500 community banks across America, but while the country watched intently last week to learn the fate of several large banks that failed the White House’s viability stress test, few people understand how the crisis is affecting banks locally. This week, the ICBA hopes that people will understand that the health of a community bank is a barometer for how well a community is doing as a whole. Although their banks may be small, their deposits are not; with 5,000 member institutions, ICBA banks hold $1 trillion in assets, $800 billion in deposits, and $700 billion in loans to consumers.

“The people who have the one-on-one relationships on main street are the community banks,” says Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, which represents minority and women-owned financial institutions. “It is the vehicle that keeps America’s economy going.”

Grant says that the community banks “epitomized soundness and safety” through the economic crisis and continued to grant home, small business, and auto loans while national banks crumbled.

Members meeting at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., for the ICBA Summit are calling for congress to downsize large banks, saying that they pose a greater systemic risk to the economic stability of the country. They also believe that the larger banks are not pulling their weight and that they should pay a “systemic-risk premium” to the Deposit Insurance Fund.

One of the top issues that bankers want resolved involves an additional 20 cent special assessment that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) plans to impose on banks of all sizes to help recapitalize the fund that insures customers deposits. Members of the ICBA want congress to pass legislation to reduce the amount of the special assessment because it would cause a hardship for smaller banks.

“If the assessment is instituted then banks will have less capital and in turn, less money to lend within their communities, which will make it harder for the country to recover [from the economic crisis],” says Karen Tyson, senior vice president of communications at the ICBA.

George Andrews, president of Capitol City Bank and Trust Company (No. 10 on the BE 2008 Banks list with $27.316 million in total assets) says that he would have to pay a high premium on his earnings when earnings in Georgia are depressed due to unemployment and a soured real estate market. “We don’t’ need to take the little capital that we are earning to put it towards fees for the deposit insurance fund,” says Andrews. “This [idea that some banks are] too big to manage, too big to fail is the root of the current economic crisis. Because the big banks have priority, our little banks are too small too save.”

At the summit Andrews says he has spoken with Georgia’s Republican senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and received positive feedback and hopes to talk to Democratic Congressmen John Lewis and David Scott  as well.
In addition, ICBA wants congress to consider changing a rule associated with mark to market accounting and require tighter regulatory and capital requirements on “too-big-to-fail” institutions. If adopted the measures will allow banks to write down real estate losses over a period of five years and protect taxpayers from future bailouts.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.