FDIC’s Mike Dean Outlines Priorities
An improving Georgia bank environment, a return to all local exam teams and a specific list of risk focus areas were among the things Mike Dean, FDIC’s new Acting Atlanta Regional Director, talked about with a large group of GBA members this week. “Events like these are good for me and our staff,” Dean said. “The first thing I do afterward is review and relay what I hear from bankers to the staff,” Dean said. Performance wise, first quarter industry trends will look a lot like those from the fourth quarter of 2013, with increased earnings, strong capital levels and improved asset quality, as well as slightly growing loan balances, he said. The key risk areas he said FDIC and bankers should closely watch are interest rate risk, cybersecurity, third-party risk management and internal controls. During a candid question and answer session with Bryan Cave’s Walt Moeling, Dean shared that the region has sufficient staffing so that exam teams will be local, and if for some reason that’s not the case, bankers should let him know. He also said the region’s banks are doing well with compliance exams, with 98 percent of banks examined getting ratings of one or two. Dean emphasized he intends to continue being as available as possible to meet with Georgia bankers about important issues. “I’ll be glad to meet with any banker, any time,” he said. He also encouraged bankers to let the regional team know early about significant initiatives being considered. “It’s nice when banks update us on strategic moves in advance. It gives us a chance to help identify any possible roadblocks or offer technical assistance if possible,” he said. Dean also addressed the speed of application reviews and decisions for branches or other items that require approval. He said that for “plain-vanilla” type of applications from highly rated banks, the timeframe should not be longer than 20-30 days. He pointed out, however, that because applications must be posted for public comment, what may seem to be a plain-vanilla request doesn’t always turn out that way. The FDIC has to review and consider all the comments made, and to appropriately do so can take some extra time. “It’s become a tradition for the person in Mike’s role to speak to GBA members soon after they’ve been appointed. We’ve found that these types of sessions really set a good tone for how the person in Mike’s position and GBA and its members can work together,” said GBA Chairman Stan Kryder, president and CEO, Midtown Bank and Trust. “We appreciate Mike taking the time to meet with us as we all have the same goals of a safe and sound banking industry.” With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.
We’ve had some time to digest and review our notes about what we heard from the regulators and Georgia’s Congressional delegation during our annual member trip to Washington, D.C., last week. Below are some of the highlights.
GBA was one of only four state association groups being briefed by the Federal Reserve this year. Fed Governor Jay Powell, who is on the community bank supervision subcommittee, led the briefing. He said in many ways, Georgia’s economy is similar to the rest of the United States, with economic recovery being slower than normal. He said that even with the low first quarter GDP results reported, it feels like the economy wants to grow at between 2 percent to 3 percent. He added perspective that while U.S. growth is slow, it is better than many global economies right now. From a regulatory standpoint, he shared that the Federal Reserve is looking closely at how the Basel III capital rules affect community banks as opposed to larger banks.
FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg led the meeting with GBA members and FDIC staff. He covered the “gradual but steady” improvement in the banking industry during the past few years following the “worst financial crisis including the Great Depression that was followed by the worst recession since World War II.” He also highlighted the recent Community Bank Consolidation study we covered in the April 12 GBA Bulletin, in particular the fact that there are more banks today that are between $100 million and $10 billion in assets than 30 years ago, and that the banks below $10 billion in assets remain “quite viable and important.” Looking ahead, he said that absent an additional economic crisis, the pace of consolidation should slow down compared to recent years. Gruenberg also noted some priorities for exam teams, saying that the FDIC has worked hard to improve examiner engagement with bank management, the pre-exam process of information gathering, communication clarity about the results of findings and timeliness of exam reports.
Paul Nash, the senior deputy controller and chief of staff, led the briefing at the OCC. Much of the meeting focused on the agency’s answers to banker questions about the QM mortgage rules, subchapter S corporation tax rules, third-party risk management and cybersecurity. The OCC staff said it understands banker concerns about the litigation risk associated with making non-QM loans, but it doesn’t see any problems with banks that decide to operate in the non-QM space so long as the bank is focused on making sure the loans are well underwritten. After hearing banker concerns about subchapter S banks not being able to pay distributions to shareholders if they are profitable but fall below the Basel III capital conservation buffers, the staff said it didn’t believe there would be any changes to the Basel III capital standards as they apply to subchapter S banks. In regard to third-party risk management, the OCC referred to its recent guidance about the issue, emphasizing that banks can’t delegate risk and risk management to third parties (See our Strategic Partner solution below for help with this). Cybersecurity, Nash said, is not just an IT issue. It is an issue that needs the full attention across the entire organization.
A group of several senior CFPB staff members were on hand to speak to our delegation. CFPB’s Elizabeth Ellis coordinated the meeting as a continuation of the meeting she facilitated in Atlanta with 20 bank presidents Feb. 27. They opened by explaining how they’re taking a close look at the effects of the new mortgage rules to understand the effects they’re having on borrowers and availability of credit. Direct feedback from bankers through their state associations has been helpful. They also shared that they’re working to better understand and define rural and underserved markets in which lenders would be exempt from certain QM standards. One important distinction they emphasized about the mortgage rules was that the minimum statutory requirement is that banks meet the eight ability-to-repay requirements, and that the qualified mortgage standards is one way to demonstrate that. The staff would not state a position on GBA-supported legislation that all loans held in portfolio by a bank should be considered qualified mortgages, but one staff member said that it is a strong argument that if a lender is willing to hold a loan on its books that the loan is well underwritten. Members shared various examples about the effects of the rules on their customers and banks.
The meeting with the U.S. Department of the Treasury included an interesting non-supervisory topic. Katheryn Rosen, deputy assistant secretary, explained how the Treasury department is the financial services industry’s lead facilitator for infrastructure protection initiatives. These are efforts to coordinate and effectively use all available methods to protect the “pipes” of the financial system. It involves everything from intelligence sharing and protection to combat fraud and cybercrime to disaster recovery and business continuity. The meeting also focused on the Georgia State Small Business Credit Initiative, which received $47 million in funding from the Treasury department to enhance credit opportunities in Georgia. In Georgia, $25 million has been deployed through 181 loans by 37 participating lenders. The program is run by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and continues to look for lender participation. See the website here for more information.
Senators Chambliss and Isakson
During a joint meeting, Georgia’s senators expressed support and appreciation for the role Georgia’s banks play in their communities and in facilitating business growth in the state. Sen. Chambliss discussed his efforts to move forward on an important cybersecurity bill that would allow significant information sharing between the government and private sector. Sen. Isakson expressed his interest in efforts to merge the qualified mortgage requirements by the CFPB and the qualified residential mortgage standards for risk retention required by proposed Federal Reserve rules. He also expects GSE housing reform work to begin in earnest net year.
Visits with U.S. House Members
During the trip, bankers divided up and called on most House members from Georgia so the representatives could visit with their own constituents. Here’s a link to a list of the specific issues members talked about during meetings with the Georgia Congressional delegation.
During GBA’s Washington Legislative Visit last week, the group discussed several important bills with the Georgia congressional delegation that are pending before the House Financial Services Committee. Among them were two bills we understand are expected to be voted on by the committee when the House returns from its Congressional recess next week. These two bills are H.R. 2673, the Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), which would deem any loan made by a lender and held in that lender’s portfolio as compliant with Ability to Repay (ATR) and Qualified Mortgage (QM) requirements under the Dodd/Frank Act (DFA), and H.R. 4521, the Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act of 2014 by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), that would exempt from the escrow requirements imposed under DFA loans held by small creditors with less than $10 billion in assets. While we expect these measures to pass the Committee, it is important that they pass with strong bipartisan votes in order for these measures to get a vote on the House floor and to have an opportunity to advance in the Senate. GBA has asked for the support of both of Georgia’s members on the Committee, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-3rd) and Rep. David Scott (D-13th) and encourage those bankers in either district to do so, as well. With questions, contact GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.
The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance is seeking comments on a variety of proposed rule adjustments that affect banks and other institutions it supervises. Comments are due June 9. The proposed rules are available here. There are several proposals of interest to banks. Jerry Blanchard of the Bryan Cave law firm summarized them as follows for members:
Georgia Banking School wrapped up May 9 at the University of
Georgia in Athens. There were 100 bankers in three classes
participating in this year’s school. Julie Nicholson
(pictured at right with other Banking School Honor Graduates), National Bank of Georgia, Gainesville, was this year’s
Graduate of Distinction, an honor recognizing the student with the
highest grade-point-average for home study assignments and school
exams, class participation and outstanding leadership. As part of
the honor, Nicholson receives a one-year scholarship to the Graduate
School of Banking at LSU. Three other third-year students were named
as Honor Graduates in recognition of their high test scores and home
study assignment scores: Darren Ellis, HeritageBank of the
South, Valdosta; Bryan Williams, The Citizens Bank, Nashville
and Jeremy Hilton, CB&T, a division of Synovus, Columbus.
For the third year, the Southern Operations and Technology School (SOTS) was held concurrently with the Georgia Banking School. Twenty bankers completed the two-year program and were recognized in ceremonies held at the conclusion of the school. Brittany Rye (pictured at right with SOTS director, Sandy Robinson), Southwest Georgia Bank, Moultrie was named the 2014 SOTS Graduate of Distinction. See all the graduates here. This was the second year that previous SOTS graduates were invited to come back for a third year and participate with the students attending the Georgia Banking School. Gina Davis, Mount Vernon Bank, Vidalia, took advantage of that opportunity and contributed measurably to her bank simulation team.
Primary Elections Next Tuesday
Although there have been plenty of campaign ads around to make sure you’re aware, GBA also wants to remind Georgia bankers that Georgia's primary election date is Tuesday, May 20. There are a number of contested seats at all levels of government on the ballot. With questions about elections in your area, see the Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s My Voter Page or contact GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027.
One of the issues GBA members talked a lot about in our meetings with regulators in Washington, D.C., was the Basel III capital conservation buffer's effects on the 62 Georgia banks that are Subchapter S institutions for tax purposes. Members brought it up in every meeting. The key point mentioned was that it’s simply unfair to treat Sub S banks differently than C Corp banks. In a nutshell, if a Sub S bank falls below a certain capital level, Basel III will require regulators to first give approval before dividends can be made to shareholders to pay their taxes. There’s no certainty that such approvals are forthcoming unless the proposed rules are changed. C Corp banks have no such requirement. We’ve also been working with our members of Congress on the issue, and a letter was sent to the regulators this week from a bipartisan group of U.S. House members, including Georgia’s Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee. Here’s a link to the letter so you can see what they said. We appreciate their adding their voices to the call for change. With questions, contact Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, or Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027.
Georgia Bitcoin Company gets Big Brit Investor
British billionaire Richard Branson has invested $30 million in Atlanta-based Bitpay, a processor of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Bitpay processes $1 million a day worth of Bitcoin transactions. “BitPay has proven itself to process Bitcoin safely and reliably, growing the market and increasing adoption, which continues to build trust, legitimacy and momentum in this exciting currency revolution,” Branson said, according to a Business Insider report. The investment is an example of how Bitpay and many other Georgia-based payment companies continue to grow and cement the state’s position as an international home for payment processing. Read more here.
Please take a few minutes to complete a short 10-question survey from the ABA about the effects on your bank of the Target data breach as well as your bank’s experience with reimbursements for breaches during the past five years. One estimate says banks and credit unions reissued 21.8 million cards at a cost of $200 million. GBA and ABA will use the information in our public discussions about data protection and in forming policy approaches to the issue. The more banks that participate in the survey, the better armed we will be in fighting for your interests in the debate over payment system security. Here’s a link to a PDF of the survey so you can prepare, and here’s the link to the actual survey. Please complete the survey by May 29. You can identify your bank at the end of the survey if you’d like a summary of the results, but it is not required. If you have any questions, please contact ABA’s Heather Wyson-Constantine at email@example.com or 202.663.7513.
Director Session Among Many Strong Breakout Sessions Annual Meeting
If you’re a director, living with regulators, management and each other is not always easy. Join Walt Moeling and Jim McAlpin with Bryan Cave, LLP, Atlanta as they help you translate real-world experiences into practice guidance and advice for structuring solutions to everyday problems for directors and management as well. Their session is one of many featured at this year's GBA’s 2014 Annual Meeting June 15-18 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Click here to register. With questions about the Annual Meeting, please contact GBA’s Susie McGehee at 404.420.2010.
ARMs vs. Escrow: Which is Best for You? Don't miss this session at GBA's annual Leadership Conference. James Moore with Steve Powell & Company, Statesboro, will make a compelling argument for implementing adjustable rate mortgages in light of the new ability to repay (ATR) requirements and qualified mortgage (QM) rules. Leadership GBA’s annual Leadership Conference is July 20-23 at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Ponte Vedra, FL. GBA has reserved a block of rooms at the Ponte Vedra Inn at a reduced rate of $219 to $235 per night. Reservations may be made by calling the hotel directly at 888.839.9145. Be sure to say you are with the GBA to receive this special rate. The cut-off date for reservations is June 17. Brochures were mailed this week, but you can register now. With questions about the conference or Leadership GBA in general, please contact GBA’s Susie McGehee at 404.420.2010.
Your bank can apply now to be recognized nationally for its community commitment efforts. The 2014 ABA Community Commitment Awards are open to banks of all sizes and charter, and banks can enter in one or all of seven categories:
American Mortgage Conference is Sept. 8-10
Georgia bankers may want to attend the annual American Mortgage Conference Sept. 8-10 in Raleigh, NC. The conference features national leaders in the mortgage industry, including representatives from the major GSE housing agencies, regulators, academic institutions and trade groups. Get details and see the agenda here.
Powerful Women in Banking Nominations Sought
Nominations are being sought for the annual 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking list. The ranking, selected by the editors of American Banker magazine, highlights the professional achievements of the industry’s leading women and spotlights institutions that promote gender diversity in leadership. Banks of all sizes are invited to nominate one or more women with senior status within their organizations. The deadline for nominations is May 30; results are to be published in October.
New Commercial Lending Course Available
Below are instructor-led AIB online classes coming up in June. These courses have weekly assignments as well as midterm and final exams. All you need is a computer, printer and Internet access. Classes with an asterisk require Microsoft Excel Software. Please register two weeks in advance to secure a seat in the class. For more information, contact Alison Moreau, 404.420.2034.
Loan Documentation, Appraisal Help, Branch Manager Basics, Robbery Prevention and More
A GBA Webinar is a great way to quickly get the training you need right from the comfort of your office. Here is a sample of upcoming offerings. Check the GBA-U Calendar of Events for any webinars you are interested in at www.gabankers.com.
Webinars are live and allow time for questions and answers. The $255 registration price gives you access to one web site "seat," one telephone site license and all handout materials. If you can't attend the webinar, you may buy the audio CD, handout materials and a password to see the session online. With questions, please contact GBA's Danielle Driggers at 404.420.2002.
Executive Benefit Specialists, LLC (EBS) specializes in the placement and service of Bank Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) programs. These programs use BOLI to finance existing employee benefits, as well as to informally fund new or existing nonqualified executive benefit plans. EBS offers implementation and plan design services as well as administrative services. If you have BOLI now and need or want to consider a new service provider, EBS can assist you with compliance and reports essential for your bank, board and regulators. The GBA Services, Inc. Board of Directors conducted a comprehensive assessment of a number of qualified BOLI vendors, and EBS was unanimously selected on the criteria that the Board determined to be the most important for Georgia community banks including industry experience, Georgia bank client references, access to highly rated insurance carriers, commitment to ongoing in-house servicing, client retention and overall value provided to GBA member banks. Given the fiduciary responsibilities of bank management and board members, it is crucial that banks partner with experienced and qualified professionals to service their BOLI programs and Nonqualified Plans. EBS provides comprehensive service through a group of qualified professionals with specialized expertise in insurance and public accounting. Each client is assigned a specific service team with extensive back office support. The professional designations held by members of the organization include CPA, JD, CLU, MSFS, MBA, CFP, ChFC and others. Under the guidance of EBS, billions of dollars of BOLI face amount have been placed with the highest-rated carriers offering institutional pricing. Their informal funding solutions are built on sound economic foundations and are conservatively structured from a tax perspective. As an added benefit to GBA members, EBS is offering a complimentary, customized BOLI Assessment Report and Carrier Due Diligence Review Report. Click here for testimonial from your Georgia banking peers. Contact Jim Foyt at 877.242.9751.
EBS, a bank consulting company, does not engage in the practice of law or accounting. Any questions concerning legal, tax or accounting advice should be referred to your appropriate counsel or advisors.
Monitoring revisions and changes to labor laws that affect the banking industry can be a challenge. Your bank can stay ahead of the curve with help from GBA Strategic Partner Employment Law Compliance, Inc. (ELC). ELC has a successful history of working with community banks of all sizes that may not have a large HR staff or in-house employment counsel. The professionals at ELC average 25 years of experience in their field. ELC's entire staff is committed to designing and maintaining the best solutions and services to help your bank. For more information, please contact ELC's Steve Greene at 770.206.3371.
VendorPoint® by Fortrex Technologies, is the market’s first automated, turnkey vendor risk management solution. This cost-effective online service enables banks of any size to identify, measure, monitor and manage third-party risk based on FFIEC guidelines and design criteria established by leading financial services institutions. The system eliminates the stress, expense and complexity financial institutions face when meeting regulatory requirements. It combines worry-free automation, ready accessibility, and ease-of-use to speed users through even the most rigorous regulatory environment. Fortrex is the industry leader in third-party risk management and has helped organizations around the world manage operational risk and regulatory compliance issues. GBA encourages you to take a closer look at VendorPoint to discover how it can help guide your bank’s vendor risk management. To schedule a demo of this solution, please contact Fortrex’s Doug Ochs at 877.367.8739.
We want to share all the good work GBA member banks, bankers, Associate Members and Bank Counsel Section members do to support their communities. Read all about the Community Connections our banks and members have below. Share your Community Connections by sending a brief paragraph and any photos of activities you have to us and we'll publish them at our earliest opportunity. Send information to Bo Brannen and David Oliver, or if your company would like to sponsor this content, let us know. See these and other member community contributions on GBA's Facebook page. Here's our latest installment:
Cartersville - Century Bank of Georgia
Elberton - Pinnacle Bank
A group of employees recently volunteered at the Habitat for Humanity Women Build Day in Hartwell.
Loganville - BrandBank
BrandBank team members pooled money together and came up with a contest to challenge classes at Loganville Elementary to do good deeds for others. The bankers spoke to students about doing good deeds and gave them a handout to take home to parents. Starting with only one class but excitably growing to four participating classes, the class that had the highest participation after one week won a pizza party. Each participant, winning class or not, also got a goodie bag for their efforts and good deeds. About 70 students participated in this project.
Sponsorship Available: GBA Associate Members may sponsor GBA's Community Connections feature to support our member banks' activities in Georgia communities. Contact David Oliver at 404.420.2036 for information.
The Georgia Bankers Association offers free job posting resources for our member banks. These listings can be viewed online or through our print publication, the GBA Bulletin, mailed every other week. Resume postings are also available. For more information, please contact Kenyetta Parks at 404.420.2035.
Atlanta - Community & Southern Bank
Lauren Vaverka has been named Deposit Growth Strategist.
Weaver has been named Communications & Design Manager.
Dalton - Alliance Bancshares Inc., and Alliance National Bank
Our sympathies to the family and friends of Chairman Jack Turner,
who recently passed away.
Lavonia - Northeast Georgia Bank
Congratulations to Margaret Ayres, who came to work for the bank
on May 10, 1944, making this her 70th year at the
- Greater Rome Bank and Greater Community Bank
will now operate under one name, Greater Community Bank.
Congratulations to Chairman Tom Caldwell on his
retirement. Bob Berry has been elected to serve as the
new Chairman of Greater Community Bank.
- Regions Bank
Business Banker Cyndi Westmoreland was recently awarded the
Regions Bank Better Life Award.
Suwanee - Quantum National Bank
Chapman has joined the bank as a Vice President/SBA Business
Wrightsville - Bank of Wrightsville
Senior Vice President Pete Powell had announced he will retire
effective May 15.
Zebulon - United Bank
and Monroe County Bank have announced the signing of a
definitive agreement to merge. United Bank anticipates that the
merger will close during the third quarter pending normal
Newtown, PA - Bank Financial Services Group
Stephen Hall has recently joined the company as Chief Financial
Please remember to include
the Georgia Bankers Association on the list of recipients for
announcements about promotions, new employees and special
recognition your bank has received. We want to share your news with
your colleagues across the state. Please forward your announcements
and photos to GBA's
Georgia Bankers Association I 50
Hurt Plaza, Suite 1050 | Atlanta, Georgia 30303 |
Atlanta - Community & Southern Bank
Lauren Vaverka has been named Deposit Growth Strategist. Donna Weaver has been named Communications & Design Manager.
Dalton - Alliance Bancshares Inc., and Alliance National Bank
Our sympathies to the family and friends of Chairman Jack Turner, who recently passed away.
Lavonia - Northeast Georgia Bank
Congratulations to Margaret Ayres, who came to work for the bank on May 10, 1944, making this her 70th year at the bank!
Rome - Greater Rome Bank and Greater Community Bank
The banks will now operate under one name, Greater Community Bank. Congratulations to Chairman Tom Caldwell on his retirement. Bob Berry has been elected to serve as the new Chairman of Greater Community Bank.
Rome - Regions Bank
Business Banker Cyndi Westmoreland was recently awarded the Regions Bank Better Life Award.
Suwanee - Quantum National Bank
Martin Chapman has joined the bank as a Vice President/SBA Business Development Officer.
Wrightsville - Bank of Wrightsville
Senior Vice President Pete Powell had announced he will retire effective May 15.
Zebulon - United Bank
United Bank and Monroe County Bank have announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge. United Bank anticipates that the merger will close during the third quarter pending normal regulatory approvals.
Newtown, PA - Bank Financial Services Group
Stephen Hall has recently joined the company as Chief Financial Officer.
Please remember to include the Georgia Bankers Association on the list of recipients for announcements about promotions, new employees and special recognition your bank has received. We want to share your news with your colleagues across the state. Please forward your announcements and photos to GBA's David Oliver and Bo Brannen.
Georgia Bankers Association I 50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 1050 | Atlanta, Georgia 30303 | 404.522.1501