If We're Not At The Table, We're On The Menu

If everyone would please open their hymnals to Hymn No. 316 and immediately after the song, I will preach ... again.

That’s right, I hate to sound like a broken record — I have so much wisdom to share on so many other topics that I hate to use all of my space for the same theme each month. But, folks it’s important, and timing is everything.

Last month, I sent an email asking you to contact Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill to focus their attention on Dodd-Frank reform. The American Bankers Association sent a similar request, asking the 2 million bankers in our country to contact their senators. In mid-July, only
6,000 bankers nationwide took time to do this — I guess 99 percent of bankers said regulatory reform isn’t that important.

If you’re not yet motivated to reach out to each of your legislators, let me strike some nerves.

“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” — Elizabeth Warren

That’s right … your eyes aren’t deceiving you. I just quoted Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, one of the leading defenders of Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau protecting consumers, even at their own expense. It is essential that we sit at the table because our industry is being eaten alive.

Don’t mistake my point; I’m certainly not opposed to helping and guiding our consumer clients. I recognize that proper, complete disclosure of terms, fees and charges is needed. But, I also believe and will not apologize for what honest community bankers have always done to help their customers. I also am a firm believer that the continued additional regulations and disclosures are helping no one with costs that are passed on to our clients in one form or another.

OK, everyone just calm down. Before we sing another hymn, let me add one more thing. 

CFPB Proposes New Disclosure Form for Overdraft Fees
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … released four new “prototype” overdraft disclosure forms as part of its “Know Before You Owe” campaign. The bureau plans further testing of the forms to determine whether they are more effective than the model opt-in form that banks currently use to explain the overdraft protection options available to consumers.”


It’s no secret that overdrafts have been on the CFPB’s radar for some time, probably from the beginning. But, overdraft income is indeed a major fee source for most banks, most probably because overdraft protection is a very popular service to clients who are willing to pay for this service because the price is right. 

Fellow bankers, we already have processes in place to inform our customers about their options for overdraft protection. Do we need the CFPB telling us that their forms work better for our customers? Does the CFPB even know our customers? We must move the CFPB out of our way or, at a minimum, put them in their place. 

Please, if you haven’t already done so already, contact Sens. Blunt and McCaskill and urge them to move the consideration of the House’s Financial Choice Act forward in the Senate. If you’re among the 360 Missouri bankers who have already contacted our senators, thank you. And, feel free to reach out again … every call, email, letter or conversation helps to further our push for regulatory relief. 

One reminder … this is not officer-level stuff. This is something for everyone in your bank … your entire staff, your board, your shareholders and each of their spouses. Please pass it throughout your bank. If these call-to-actions stop at your desk, it lets our entire industry down.

One more thing for those nodding their heads in the back row — Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act. 

Did I lose some of you? This section establishes data collection and reporting requirements that cover credit applications from women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses and small businesses. Any guess who’s responsible for establishing these requirements?

“The Bureau shall prescribe such rules and issue such guidance as may be necessary to carry out, enforce, and compile data pursuant to this section.” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Have I said enough, or do I need to keep preaching? 

If you’re a little confused on how to simply and effectively contact your legislator, don’t hesitate to contact Emily Lewis with our MBA staff. If you question or doubt your contact’s effectiveness, please contact me directly.

Due to the length of today’s sermon, we’ll dispense with the final hymn. Go out and share our message!