Greg Ohlendorf, President and C.E.O., Meets with CFPB's Elizabeth Warren
March, 2011 Beecher, Illinois – Greg Ohlendorf, President & CEO of First Community Bank and Trust took part in a roundtable discussion between Elizabeth Warren of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and member bankers of the Community Bankers Association of Illinois (CBAI) at The Westin O'Hare on February 23, 2011.
CBAI Vice President of Federal Governmental Relations David Schroeder opened the meeting stating the CFPB had previously reached out to the CBAI senior staff to discuss the formation of the new bureau. In December of 2010, CBAI suggested that the laser focus of the CFPB should be on the true causes and real culprits of the mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis - the largest banks in the country and the shadow financial industry. In addition, the goal of the CFPB should be to hold those financial-service providers up to the existing high standard for compliance with consumer laws, rules, and regulations currently required of community banks.
The discussion continued with a lengthy period of thoughtful questions and comments from CBAI bankers to Professor Warren. Several common themes expressed by the bankers throughout the discussions were: a consensus among the bankers about the challenges of complying with the current and increasing regulatory burden; that community banks are least able to shoulder the cost of this burden; and the urgent need to level the playing field between community banks and the country's largest banks and shadow banks. Ohlendorf, who also serves as Chairman of the Independent Community Bankers Association's Policy Development Committee, spoke about the long tradition of community banks custom tailoring loans to fit the unique needs of their customers, and voiced a concern that the Bureau would impact this practice and stifle product innovation. He said if it were to happen, it would be an unfortunate unintended consequence of the legislation which created the Bureau. Professor Warren acknowledged this challenge an expressed a willingness to accommodate, perhaps through exemptions or in other ways, and permit community banks to continue to serve their customers' unique needs while not hindering product innovation.
Professor Warren said that if the result of the creation of the CFPB was just to add additional regulation on top of the existing burden, then the Bureau will have failed in its mission. Rather the goal of the Bureau is to simultaneously assist consumers, simplify regulatory compliance for everyone, and level the playing field between the banks and non-banks.
CBAI is a professional trade association representing nearly 430 Illinois commercial banks and thrifts, and their nearly 900 Illinois bank branches. Its members have nearly $70 billion in assets and employ approximately 20,000 individuals. CBAI, headquartered in Springfield, was founded in 1974. For more information, visit www.cbai.com.
About the CFBP
The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 and will be an independent bureau within the Federal Reserve System. Its stated goal is to empower consumers with the information they need to make financial decisions that are best for them and their families. Further, the CFPB's goal will be to set clear and consistent rules that allow banks and other consumer financial services providers to compete on a level playing field and that let consumers clearly see the costs and features of products and services.
About First Community Bank and Trust
First Community Bank and Trust is a privately owned bank. Established in 1916 First Community Bank and Trust has been serving Beecher, IL, Peotone, IL and the surrounding communities for over 95 years. Our commitment to providing the best banking products and services is matched only by our outstanding customer service. We offer traditional community banking services, including mortgage, consumer, and commercial lending, as well as state of the art electronic banking services.
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Steven D. Koehn, VP
First Community Bank and Trust