Tim Zimmerman: We support a level playing field

“Bank-like credit unions should be subject to the same laws and regulations as banks. It’s as simple as that.”

ICBA is working to address many advocacy issues as policymakers implement S.2155. While the variety of rules and regulations affecting our industry is vast, ICBA’s position is simple: We support a level playing field.

Community banks are ready, willing and able to compete in a fair and open marketplace. But too often, the regulatory and tax burdens we face don’t apply to government-sponsored competitors. Ironically, their competitive advantage is funded in part by our tax dollars.

For instance, credit unions have become virtually indistinguishable from taxpaying banks while enjoying their huge government subsidy and Community Reinvestment Act exemption. Meanwhile, the National Credit Union Administration has repeatedly shown itself to be an industry advocate rather than a regulator. Credit unions should be subject to the same laws and regulations as banks. It’s as simple as that.

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ICBA’s policy objectives are approved annually by its Policy Development Committee and board of directors.

The same goes for the Farm Credit System (FCS), whose lenders enjoy unfair competitive advantages over community banks that serve rural areas. The FCS continues to use its tax-advantaged status to cherry pick the best loans, leaving only the more challenging and riskier loans for community banks to make. That jeopardizes the viability of many community banks and, in turn, the economic strength of the communities they serve. The FCS is also sharply reducing service to family farmers and expanding non-farm lending. ICBA’s position: Reform the FCS to ensure it adheres to its historical mission of serving farmers and ranchers while preventing it from engaging in selective below-market pricing and non-farm lending.

Finally, ICBA remains concerned with the real and potential inequities of chartering industrial loan corporations and fintech companies, respectively. Because the ILC loophole allows commercial interests to own banks while avoiding the legal restrictions and regulatory supervision that apply to other bank holding companies, ICBA is seeking a moratorium on such charters from the FDIC and a permanent ban from Congress. ICBA is also working to ensure the pending special-purpose national bank charter for fintech firms subjects these companies to the same standards of safety, soundness and fairness as other federally chartered institutions.

There are many ways to rebalance our off-kilter financial services marketplace. ICBA offers numerous resources to help you make a difference. Read on to learn more.

Tim Zimmerman Chairman, ICBA. Tim Zimmerman is CEO of Standard Bank, Monroeville, Pa. Connect with Tim @TimZimPgh