Tiered Regulation and Regulatory Relief




  •   Community banks need regulatory relief to support the credit needs of their customers, serve their communities, and contribute to their local economies.
  •   CBAI supports ICBA's “Plan for Prosperity” which contains a number of targeted provisions that would provide regulatory relief for community banks.
  •   ICBA and CBAI urge Congress and the regulatory agencies to continue to expand and refine a tiered regulatory and supervisory system that recognizes the significant differences between community banks and larger, more complex institutions in terms of the risks they pose to consumers and to the financial system.
  •   Thresholds for regulatory accommodations, and exceptions and exemptions for community banks based on size and transaction volume should be continually reviewed and adjusted upward as the average asset size of banks increases.
  •   Regulators must not exceed their proper scope by discouraging or unduly scrutinizing community banks providing payment services to legal and legitimate customers safeguarded by appropriate risk controls and monitoring.


    Regulatory and paperwork requirements impose a disproportionate burden on community banks which diminishes their ability to attract capital, support the credit needs of their customers, serve their communities, and contribute to their local economies. Mega banks have larger dedicated legal and compliance staff and can more easily absorb regulatory costs. Credit unions and other nonbank institutions that perform “bank-like” functions and offer comparable bank products and services are not subject to the same laws and regulations as community banks. This uneven playing field places community banks at a competitive disadvantage and inhibits their ability to serve consumers and communities.

    In the 112th Congress (2011-2012), ICBA and CBAI promoted the Communities First Act (CFA) as the primary legislative vehicle of our regulatory relief agenda. A principal CFA provision was signed into law in April 2012 as part of the Jobs Act legislation. That provision increased the Securities and Exchange Commission registration threshold for banks from 500 shareholders to 2,000 shareholders, and increased the deregistration threshold from 300 shareholders to 1,200 shareholders. As a direct result of this provision, approximately 100 publicly held community banks have been able to deregister and eliminate the significant costs associated with SEC regulatory requirements.

    In January of 2013, ICBA launched and CBAI supported the “Plan for Prosperity” (PFP), a platform consisting of a dozen legislative provisions that would provide targeted regulatory relief for community banks. Unlike the Communities First Act which was embodied in a single legislative vehicle, PFP serves as a platform for provisions to be introduced as separate bills and thereby move more easily through the legislative process. Examples of platform provisions include exemptions from new mortgage requirements, removing ownership restrictions on Subchapter S banks, and raising the threshold of the Federal Reserve’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement to bank and thrift holding companies with less than $5 billion in assets. One provision relating to an exemption from municipal advisor registration for bank employees has been resolved pursuant to an SEC rulemaking in 2013. Another provision relating to the elimination of annual privacy notices passed the House in 2013 and is very close to passage in the Senate.

    In the first session of the 113th Congress, 23 separate bills containing one or more PFP provisions were introduced in the House and Senate. The PFP bill which has garnered the most co-sponsors is the “Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act (CLEAR Relief Act). H.R. 1750, the House version of the CLEAR Relief Act, has more than 100 bi-partisan co-sponsors (as of February 2014) while S. 1349, the Senate version has 23 bi-partisan co-sponsors.

    More broadly, ICBA and CBAI strongly support a system of tiered regulation—regulatory and supervisory policies that differentiate between community banks and other financial services providers. For example, a highly-rated, well-capitalized community bank should be allowed to file a “short form” call report in two non-consecutive quarters each year. The short form call report would provide sufficient material information to allow regulators to assess the safety and soundness of a community bank, but would be significantly less burdensome to prepare. The average call report for a $100 million dollar bank has grown from 29 pages in 2003 to 72 pages today.

    The Dodd-Frank Act provided for tiered regulation in several areas including an exemption for community banks from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau examination and enforcement, and indemnification of community banks from FDIC premium increases that will result from increasing the Deposit Insurance Fund minimum reserve ratio from 1.15% to 1.35%. Other examples of tiered regulation can be found in the final Basel III rule including allowing community banks to continue using the Basel I mortgage risk weights, the exclusion of accumulated other comprehensive income (AOCI) from the definition of regulatory capital, and the grandfathering of tier one treatment of trust preferred securities (TruPS) for banks with assets under $15 billion. In addition, the CFPB made special accommodations for community banks under the “ability-to-repay/qualified mortgage” rule and the mortgage servicing rule. These provisions are critical to avoid subjecting community banks to unnecessary regulatory burden, but more is needed. The basic framework of financial regulation should be based on the principle of tiering proportionate to size, business model, complexity, and risk. ICBA and CBAI will continue to advocate for meaningful regulatory reforms including tiered regulation for community banks, their customers, and their communities.

Links to Additional Information:

Tiered regulation section of CBAI's 2014 Federal Policy Priorities

ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity

ICBA's Plan for Prosperity Legislative Tracker

Bipartisan and Bicameral Support Grows for the CLEAR Act

Staff Visit to Washington Reinforces Support for Community Bank Positions

CBAI's 32nd Annual Call on Washington Highlights


Regulators Respond to Pressure on TruPS Treatment in the Volcker Rule

January 14, 2014

Federal banking regulators have responded to industry calls to rectify a Volcker Rule provision requiring banks to divest by July 2015 their holdings of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) backed by trust-preferred securities (TruPS). The interim final rule permits banks to retain TruPS CDOs they owned as of December 10, 2013, if the CDOs were issued before May 19, 2010, and are backed primarily by TruPS or subordinated debt of bank holding companies that had less than $15 billion in assets when the securities were issued or of mutual holding companies. The rule will avoid the dramatic market impact of revised accounting treatment and forced divestiture of these securities.

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) worked with the various banking regulators and members of Congress to exempt these instruments from the Volcker Rule. CBAI and ICBA are reviewing the interim final rule to assess its impact and will weigh options for pursuing additional relief measures as necessary.

Read the Interim Final Rule.

Read the Agency News Release.

Read the Non-Exclusive List of TruPS CDOs that Are Not Covered Funds.

Access Additional Volcker Rule Resources.

Read ICBA Release.

Read ICBA Special Coverage.


House Passes Thrift Holding Company Relief Legislation

January 14, 2014

The United States House of Representatives passed, with strong bipartisan support, CBAI supported legislation to allow thrift holding companies to take advantage of the new 1,200-shareholder Securities and Exchange Commission deregistration threshold. The Holding Company Registration Threshold Equalization Act (H.R. 801) also would raise the registration threshold to 2,000 shareholders. Due to an oversight in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, thrift holding companies could not take advantage of the increased shareholder threshold below which a bank or bank holding company may deregister with the SEC. The bill was co-sponsored by Illinois’ Mike Quigley (D-05).

Similar legislation (S. 872) has been introduced in the Senate. The bills are among many regulatory relief provisions in ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity platform for the 113th Congress.


November 18-21, 2013

CBAI's David Schroeder, vice president federal governmental relations, recently completed a trip to Washington D.C. Schroeder called on the offices of every member of the Illinois Congressional delegation, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to urge support for positions and initiatives which are vitally important to Illinois community banks.

Support resolving the issue of too-big-to-fail (TBTF)

Support tiered regulation, regulatory relief, and advance favorable legislation for community banks

Oppose expanded powers for tax-exempt credit unions

Oppose expansion of the Farm Credit System (FCS)

Congressional and regulators support for our positions on these major initiatives will allow community banks to encourage additional small business lending, fuel job creation, help create economic stability, and more fully serve their communities.

Support resolving the issue of too-big-to-fail (TBTF)
CBAI urges the continued reform of our financial system to significantly reduce the probability and severity of a future financial crisis. The taxpayer bailout of big banks and financial firms must never happen again!

An unfortunate result of the financial crisis is that the largest banks have grown larger and remain candidates for bailouts. Today, the 10 largest banks (.2% of the nation’s banks) control 77% of all bank assets compared to just 55% in 2002. The nation’s 6,500 community banks represent only 12% of all bank assets.

Support for resolving too-big-to-fail is growing among banking regulators, a bipartisan group of legislators, and distinguished thought leaders. This chorus has been fueled by not only the taxpayer-funded bailouts of the mega banks but also by their numerous and egregious misdeeds including: massive screw-ups in mortgage servicing, illegal document robo-signing and foreclosing on veterans, mortgage securities fraud, anti-money laundering lapses related to terrorist financing and drug trafficking, manipulation of LIBOR rates, massive bond trading losses (London Whale), and multi-million dollar executive pay scandals.

No financial institution, its directors, officers, or employees should ever be too-big-to-manage, too-big-to-regulate, too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-prosecute, too-big-to-jail, and should certainly not be too-big-to-change.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined with Senator David Vitter (R-LA) in introducing the Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayers Fairness Act of 2013 (S. 798). This legislation will help eliminate the threats posed by too-big-to-fail financial institutions with capital guidelines appropriately scaled to the size, scope and risks of the institutions, and offers much-needed regulatory relief to community banks. CBAI thanks Senator Richard Durbin for taking a leadership position by co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Support tiered regulation, regulatory relief, and advance favorable legislation for community banks
The financial crisis clearly demonstrated that the material risks of Wall Street mega banks are very different from those of community banks, and they should not be treated the same way. The Dodd Frank Reform Act laid out a plan for applying separate supervision, capital, and liquidity requirements for the financial behemoths. In the Act, and elsewhere, tiered regulation has established a welcome and necessary beachhead. Now it is time to broaden that beachhead and ensure that every new banking law, rule and regulation clearly distinguishes and appropriately regulates community banks.

Legislation in the House and Senate to provide much needed tiered regulation, regulatory relief is gaining traction and includes the following.

H.R. 1750 – Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act of 2013 (CLEAR Act) has 87 bipartisan House co-sponsors. CBAI thanks House members Rodney Davis (R-13), Bill Enyart (D-12), Mike Quigley (D-5), Bobby Rush (D-1), and Aaron Schock (R-18) for cosponsoring this legislation.

S. 1349 – CLEAR Act legislation in the Senate has 21 bipartisan cosponsors. CBAI thanks Senator Mark Kirk for being an original sponsor in the Senate of this legislation. The CLEAR Act contains the following provisions.

  • Providing “qualified mortgage” status under the CFPB’s ability-to-repay rules for any mortgage originated and held in portfolio for at least three years by a lender with less than $10 billion in assets.
  • Exempting from any escrow requirements any first lien mortgage held by a lender with less than $10 billion in assets.
  • Exempting servicers that service 20,000 or fewer mortgages from certain new servicing rules.
  • Providing an exemption from the independent appraisal requirement for mortgages of less than $250,000.
  • Providing that a financial institution is not required to provide an annual privacy notice to its customers if it has not changed its privacy policies (House version only).
  • Exempting community banks with assets of less than $10 billion ($1 billion in Senate version) from the Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b) internal-controls assessment mandates. The exemption threshold would be adjusted annually to account for any growth in banking assets.
  • Requiring the SEC to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of new or amended accounting principles (House version only)
  • Requiring the Federal Reserve to revise the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement by increasing the qualifying asset threshold from $500 million to $5 billion.

S. 635 – Privacy Notice Modernization Act of 2013 has 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate. The Privacy Notice Act eliminates the requirement that financial institutions mail annual privacy notices even when there has been no change in policies and practices with respect to disclosing nonpublic personal information.

    H. R. 749 – Privacy Act Notice legislation in the House passed by voice vote on March 13, 2013. CBAI thanks all members of the House for voting in favor of this legislation and we especially thank Cheri Bustos (D-17), Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Bill Enyart (D-12), Bill Foster (D-11), Randy Hultgren (R-14), Dan Lipinski (D-3), and Aaron Schock (R-18) for cosponsoring.

H.R. 1553 – The Financial Institutions Examination Fairness Act has 131 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House. The Exam Fairness Act included establishing examination standards including firm deadlines for exit interviews and receipt of examination results, and establishes a FFIEC Ombudsman separate from the prudential regulators. CBAI thanks Cheri Bustos (D-17), Rodney Davis (R-13), Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Adam Kinzinger (R-16), and Peter Roskam (R-6) for cosponsoring this legislation.

    S. 727 – Exam Fairness legislation in the Senate has 18 bipartisan cosponsors.

H.R. 797 – Municipal Advisor Oversight Improvement Act has 26 bi-partisan cosponsors in the House. The Municipal Improvement Act would exempt traditional banking activities from triggering costly and unnecessary registration requirements. CBAI thanks Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Bill Foster (D-11), Mike Quigley (D-5), and Aaron Schock (R-18) for cosponsoring this legislation.

    S. 710 – Municipal Advisor relief Act in the Senate has 14 bi-partisan cosponsors.

Oppose expanded powers for tax-exempt credit unions
The original credit union model has become outdated as credit unions have long since strayed from their founding purpose of serving individuals of modest means and with a common bond. Their federal tax-exempt status, in exchange for serving their original mission, is clearly no longer justified. Their tax subsidy should be eliminated and all of them should pay their fair share.

Credit unions are seeking to expand their commercial lending powers by increasing the percentage of assets cap on member business lending (MBL) (H.R. 688 and S. 968). If authorized, any growth will likely come at the expense of tax-paying community banks. In addition, credit unions are seeking to raise capital from outside investors (H.R. 719), discarding their longstanding reliance on retained earnings. This change would fundamentally alter the exclusive member-focused character of credit unions – a condition for their original tax exemption. Credit unions should not be granted these or any additional powers as long as they remain exempt from taxation. The only members of the Illinois delegation who are cosponsoring the MBL legislation are Cheri Bustos (D-17), Dan Lipinski (D-3) and Bobby Rush (D-1). This legislation unfortunately has 116 House cosponsors and 17 Senate cosponsors. No Illinois member of the House is cosponsoring the additional capital access legislation.

Given current budget deficits and the ever-growing federal debt, together with survey results showing that community banks do a better job serving the very customers credit unions were created to serve, now is the time for Congress to end the credit unions’ unfair tax subsidy.

Oppose expansion of the Farm Credit System (FCS)
CBAI opposes the expansionist agenda of the Farm Credit System which would allow FCS lenders to become the equivalent of commercial banks while retaining their Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) status. The FCS’s funding advantage as a GSE constitutes an unfair competitive advantage over rural community banks.

The FCS should follow its historical mission of serving bona fide farmers, ranchers, and young, beginning and small farmers and their farmer-owned cooperatives. If it chooses not to follow this mission, it should be subject to taxation.

CBAI strenuously opposes the Farm Credit Administration’s “Rural Community Investments” proposal which would allow FCS institutions to extend non-farm loans to virtually anyone in towns and cities with populations under 50,000, because such financing would be misleadingly characterized as “investments” instead of loans.

FCS should be refocused as a wholesale funding source for community banks serving agriculture and provide a correspondent banking function rather than a direct retail competitor with its unfair GSE tax and funding advantage. FCS institutions should face regulatory safeguards, disclosures and controls equal to community banks and housing GSEs, including CFPB oversight.


CFPB Issues Final Rule on New Mortgage Disclosure Forms

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today issued a final rule requiring new mortgage disclosure forms that combine existing disclosures required under the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The new forms, which the CFPB has developed for more than two years as part of its “Know Before You Owe” initiative, include information such as interest rates, monthly payments and closing costs.

The CFPB said the rule requires mortgage lenders to use the new disclosures, implements rules on when the new forms are to be given to consumers, and limits how the final terms can change from the original loan estimate.

The CFPB said the Loan Estimate form, which replaces the early Truth in Lending statement and the Good Faith Estimate, should be provided to consumers within three business days after they submit a loan application. The Closing Disclosure form, which replaces the final Truth in Lending statement and the HUD-1 settlement statement, should be delivered within three business days before closing on a loan.

The rule is effective Aug. 1, 2015.

Read the Final Rule.

Read CFPB Fact Sheet on Disclosures.

Read CFPB Fact Sheet on Testing Process.