News Release 2006-28 | March 6, 2006

Comptroller Speaks to Independent Community Bankers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan applauded the work of independent banks and said America needs community institutions that are strong enough to help out in times of emergency, but also there in ordinary times to help people achieve their lives' dreams.

In a taped speech to the annual convention of the Independent Community Banks of America, Mr. Dugan said that independent banks are at the heart of the OCC’s mission, noting that 90 percent of the institutions supervised by the agency have less than $1 billion in assets.

The Comptroller added that it is vital that regulators strike a balance that preserves safety and soundness without sapping the industry’s strength.

"Sensible regulation is essential to the industry’s safety and soundness," he said. "But we have to be careful that the sheer volume of our regulations doesn’t overwhelm you, stifling initiative and chipping away at your ability to compete.  Preserving that balance is a challenge I take very seriously."

The Comptroller said one way to preserve that balance is to be clear and consistent about the agency’s expectations.  In that regard, the new uniform Bank Secrecy Act exam procedures are a major step forward.

Mr. Dugan said creativity is also necessary in achieving regulatory balance.

"Can we scale back some regulations to reflect the relative risks posed by community banks and the resources available to them?" he asked.  "I’m thinking now of the approach we took in the new CRA regulations, with its new class of intermediate small banks and significantly reduced data collection and reporting requirements.  This could be an example with more widespread application, and I’d like to see more of it."

The Comptroller was in Switzerland today to attend a Basel Committee meeting on the proposed capital framework, but spoke to the convention through a taped presentation.

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