News Release 2005-53 | May 27, 2005

Acting Comptroller Williams Tells Community Bankers OCC Working Hard to Make Regulation More Efficient and Less Burdensome

CHICAGO – Acting Comptroller of the Currency Julie L. Williams said today that the OCC knows, from its supervisory experience, about the burden of regulation shouldered by community banks and is working in Washington to do something about it.

"We know that the resources you expend working to meet government compliance and paperwork requirements is time and effort unavailable for you to do what you do best—serving your customers and communities," Ms. Williams said in a speech before an OCC Bankers Outreach Meeting. "When we hear these concerns from you, we can translate your issues into proposals for reform."

Ms. Williams noted that the OCC’s combination of local presence; national perspective enables the agency to add value to the solution of individual bank issues and effectively tackle systemic issues that affect multiple national banks. By hearing about issues involving the burden of regulation shouldered by community banks on the local level, the OCC uses its national presence to be directly involved in the debates in Washington D.C. about how to do something about them.

In addition, Ms. Williams pointed out that the OCC will advocate changes to the law when necessary, and cited the agency’s efforts to reform the regime of consumer compliance disclosures as a prime example.

"Shorter, focused consumer disclosures can meaningfully reduce your regulatory burden," Ms. Williams said. "Just think of what it costs to prepare and deliver all those consumer disclosures that get thrown out because your customers don’t find them useful. The time you spend on compliance matters and the money you spend on lawyers and consultants navigating through complicated requirements could be redirected to better serving your customers and improving returns to your stockholders."

Ms. Williams also addressed Basel II and important concerns of competitive equity and regulatory burden for community and mid-size banks that will not be covered by the Basel II capital rules. She informed the bankers that the OCC is now engaged in a simultaneous effort to update and revise the risk-based capital rules that will apply to the non-Basel II banks.

"In that effort, we will be very aware of the potential competitive implications of different capital rules for different types of banks, and we also will be very sensitive not to go overboard and create an overly complicated new set of capital rules for the non-Basel II world," she said.

Ms. Williams pointed out that the OCC provides community bankers "value added" supervision with experienced bank examiners, expert legal and licensing specialists, and talented community affairs officers who are available to answer their questions and provide the best possible guidance to address their individual issues.

"We have dozens of experts in fields ranging across the banking and financial spectrum—people who know the banking business inside and out, people with the most advanced degrees and certifications available, some with years of industry experience before they came to the OCC," Ms. Williams said. "These are people who know the issues faced by banks of all types and sizes; experts who supervise some of the largest and most complex banking organizations in the world; experts who understand the issues and challenges facing community bankers."

Ms. Williams concluded by stating that the national banking system provides the legal framework that enables national banks to compete effectively and efficiently and to evolve their business to grow with their customers’ needs in today’s fluid and competitive marketplace. National banks have the ability to develop and offer new products and services through a variety of structures: an operating subsidiary, a financial subsidiary, a bank service company, a joint venture, and other types of investments, as well as through the bank directly.

"We recognize that not only will the content of business of banking evolve over time, but the means by which that business is conducted must be permitted to evolve as well," Ms. Williams said.

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