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FDIC Federal Register Citations

Via email

September 15, 2003

Robert E. Feldman
Executive Secretary
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
550 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20429

Attn: Comments/OES

Re: Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 Request for Comment (Docket No. 2003-20)

Dear Mr. Feldman:

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”)1 welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council’s (“FFIEC’s”) request for comment2 (“request”) on its review of the financial institution regulations to reduce burden imposed on insured depository institutions, as required by section 2222 of the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (EGRPRA). We believe it is important to support the goals of materially reducing regulatory burden currently imposed on the financial institution industry. In this regard, we applaud the FFIEC’s efforts to reduce and simplify regulations that industry comments indicate are outdated, ineffective, or simply no longer meet the requirements initially enacted by Congress.

The FDIC’s Vice Chairman John Reich and his Office have taken the leadership role in this regulatory endeavor. In this role, the Project Manager for the Vice Chairman and the EGRPRA comment and review process, Claude Rollin, has coordinated with CSBS to provide a personal request for comment to several state bank commissioners as well as our Bankers Advisory Board (BAB)3 . In that request, Mr. Rollin made it clear that the Vice Chairman’s Office is very interested in the industry’s comments on reducing regulatory burden. Accordingly, CSBS held a conference call with its BAB to obtain the bulk of the comments contained in this letter. In the future, CSBS may share additional comments with the FFIEC from state bank commissioners, including those who serve on the FFIEC “State Liaison Committee.” We ask that the FFIEC consider all comments to reflect CSBS’ view on this extremely important issue.


EGRPRA, passed by Congress in 1996, requires the FFIEC and each appropriate Federal banking agency represented on the FFIEC to conduct a review of all regulations prescribed by the FFIEC or by any such appropriate Federal banking agency to identify outdated or otherwise unnecessary regulatory requirements imposed on insured depository institutions. This review must take place at least once every ten years. In conducting the review the FFIEC is required to categorize the regulations and at regular intervals, provide notice and solicit public comment on a particular category or categories of regulations, requesting commentators to identify areas of the regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome. The FFIEC will publish the categories for which they are seeking comments twice a year. For this first publication, comments are requested for the following three categories of regulations: Applications and Reporting, Powers and Activities, and International Operations. Accordingly, the FFIEC must complete this review, eliminate unnecessary regulations to the extent that such action is appropriate, and provide an update to Congress no later than 2006.

To encourage full participation in the EGRPRA review, the Vice Chairman’s Office has conducted several banker outreach sessions in Orlando, Florida, St. Louis, Missouri, and Denver, Colorado. A state bank commissioner, a CSBS representative, and representatives from all of the other Federal regulatory agencies have participated in all of the outreach sessions.

Industry comments from these outreach sessions have continued to develop a consistent list of regulations that should be reviewed and altered to reduce regulatory burden. The issues most frequently identified by financial institutions as burdensome or outdated include the USA PATRIOT Act, Bank Secrecy Act, Regulation D and the limitations on withdrawals from money market deposit accounts, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Expedited Funds Availability Act, Community Reinvestment Act, Truth in Lending Act (with special emphasis on the right of rescission), Privacy notices, and limitations on extending credit to insiders.

CSBS’ Bankers Advisory Board Comments

During our conference call with the CSBS Bankers Advisory Board, a member highlighted the importance of the EGRPRA regulatory burden reduction process. This BAB member is the president of a $150-million community bank that employs four to five full time equivalent employees that focus exclusively on compliance. He also noted that non-banking entities do not have such compliance requirements and remarked that this places his small bank at a competitive disadvantage. CSBS looks forward to working with the Federal banking agencies to reduce regulatory burden where possible.

The BAB conference call coordinated through CSBS uncovered items similar to those identified by industry representatives at the EGRPRA outreach meetings. BAB members provided details that might be of assistance when the FFIEC reviews the amount of burden imposed by these regulations. A summary of their comments and suggestions follows:

  Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) and Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR)

• Although it was noted that industry representatives have estimated the cost of each CTR to be $25, that price is likely higher for smaller banks.

• One member of the BAB computed the cost of filing CTRs for his bank, assuming the average $25 per CTR is accurate. His bank generates 240 CTRs a day (approximately 65,000 a year). An average cost of $25 per CTR equates to an annual cost of $1.6 million. Separately, the same bank files about 50 SARs per year.

• The members of the BAB expressed widespread frustration because it appears that law-enforcement authorities do nothing with CTRs and SARs. One member reported that the FBI has failed to follow up on a SAR submitted two years ago involving a $2.4-million check kiting scheme. Another member of the BAB stated that the FBI has yet to act on a $140,000 note forgery. Law enforcement officials have indicated to both bankers that homeland security matters hinder and prevent investigations such as these. Our members question, if the CTRs are not going to be investigated, why the banks should shoulder such high costs to file them.

• CSBS noted to the BAB members that FinCEN is investigating electronic submissions of CTRs. The bankers, however, noted that their biggest cost involves the research and file-checking that are required to generate CTRs and SARs.

• Furthermore, one of the BAB members noted that banks are required to report on CTRs and SARs, at least in summary form, to their Boards of Directors -- another cost item.

  USA PATRIOT Act and “Know Your Customer”

• Members of the BAB, especially those in smaller communities, felt the “Know Your Customer” requirements add little value in investigating terrorism.

• When asked about documenting (possibly photocopying) customer identification information to be kept with signature cards, the members felt it would merely be "just another gotcha item” on examiners' checklists. BAB members also expressed concern that maintaining pictures of customers could result in claims of racial bias or profiling.

  Limitation of Withdrawals from Money Manager Deposit Accounts

• The members of the BAB felt this limitation is completely outdated. It is anti-competitive to smaller banks that do not have sweep accounts or have to compete with non-bank entities that do not have similar restrictions.

  Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA)

• BAB members believe the small bank threshold for reporting under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act is no longer realistic. The members suggested increasing the asset threshold to at least $500,000, but $1 or $2 million is more realistic.

• Bankers noted that some holding companies keep a number of charters to stay under the HMDA and CRA asset size.

  Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)

• BAB members noted that smaller banks are hardest hit by CRA requirements. It's difficult, if not impossible, for many of the smaller banks to meet the investment criteria.

• One member credited the FDIC as setting a precedent by allowing CRA credit for participation in the Money Smart financial education program. The precedent should be extended to give CRA credit for other good works, such as sponsoring Little League teams and the like.

  Expedited Funds Availability

• BAB members agreed that this regulations needs to reviewed. The requirement that funds from cashiers' checks be granted on a next-day basis is generating significant fraud losses due to new technologies that allow scanning and/or color-copies.

  Real Estate Settlement Regulations

• BAB members suggest that huge improvements could be made to lessen the regulatory burden in documents required for real estate loan settlement. It was suggested that lessening the amount of disclosure required may assist consumers by allowing them to focus on fewer papers. We have enclosed examples of the settlement documents that one of the BAB members suggested could be eliminated.

• BAB members also suggested that the Truth in Lending Act’s right of rescission should be eliminated. Bank customers have complained when they do not receive refinance monies immediately upon loan closing. No bank on the BAB has ever had a right of rescission excersized.

  Limitations on Insider Dealings

• For smaller banks, these regulations have the effect of driving their potentially best customers to other institutions. Banks can give preferred loan rates to employees, but not to officers and directors.

• BAB members expressed an interest in having regulators separate insider abuses from justified preferential treatment for insiders who merit it, as banks can do for employees.

  Flood insurance

• FEMA flood maps are often years out of date.

• Generally, flood maps are not changed for 10-12 years, even though action has been taken to change the flood plane. Research, however, to change the 100 year flood plane is costly for banks to consider.

• In those cases where banks attempt to update the flood maps, there are paperwork delays. Examiners criticize banks for making a determination on the flood insurance question until some kind of official paperwork is in the loan file, even though "you know the house is on top of a hill and not going to be flooded," said one BAB member.


CSBS commends the FFIEC’s and the FDIC’s efforts to review all banking regulations in order to reduce regulatory burden. In conclusion, we would like to highlight that new proposed regulations on identity theft were released following the conference call with our BAB. Such regulations certainly may be necessary to protect consumers against malfeasants taking advantage of changing and updated technologies to commit fraud. As regulations continue to proliferate, however, it is critically important that regulators continually evaluate which regulations may no longer be necessary.

We also note that as the difference between banks, savings associations, credit unions, and investment/ brokerage firms continues to blur, it is important to ensure that financial institutions are not placed at a competitive disadvantage. CSBS further recommends regulators use sunset provisions in regulations. Such provisions would require regulations to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the need for the regulation still exists.

CSBS welcomes the opportunity to work with the FFIEC to assist in alleviating outdated an unduly burdensome regulations. Thank you for your consideration and we invite you to contact CSBS for any additional information or assistance.

Best personal regards,
Neil Milner
President and CEO
Conference of State Bank Supervisors
Washington, DC

[1] CSBS is the professional organization of state officials responsible for chartering, regulating and supervising the nation’s 6,395 state-chartered commercial and savings banks and 419 state-licensed branches and agencies of foreign banks. 

68 Fed. Reg. 35589, (June 16, 2003).

[3] The CSBS Bankers Advisory Board is the organization's bank membership leadership group, which provides advice and support to the Board of Directors, and serves as a resource to CSBS members and staff throughout the year. 

Last Updated 09/15/2003

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