A Tampa banker says customers would have more choice about where they do their banking if Congress moves forward with a measure that would make dramatic changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
The measure, S.B. 2155, had bipartisan support, including from both of Florida’s U.S. senators, when it passed the U.S. Senate last month, but faces a tougher battle in the U.S. House. It would roll back many of the regulations put in place after the financial crisis of 2007-08, including raising the threshold for a bank being considered “too big to fail” from $50 billion to $250 billion. It also relaxes mortgage rules for community banks with less than $10 billion in assets and eliminates some paperwork for banks with less than $5 billion in assets.
Opponents say it cuts consumer protections, while backers such as Jack Barrett, president and CEO of First Citrus Bank (OTC: FCIT), say it will help small lenders such as First Citrus, a $368 million asset bank in Tampa.
“Community banks like First Citrus Bank serve a critical role in ensuring our nation’s financial system remains vibrant and diversified, leading to more consumer choices,” Barrett said.
Barrett was one of about 1,000 community bankers from across the United States who turned out for the Independent Community Bankers of America’s annual meeting in Washington earlier this month, when the bankers held 325 meetings with legislators and their staffs, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Coming to Washington to meet one-on-one with our elected representatives is imperative to ensuring the community bank perspective is heard loud and clear, especially with meaningful regulatory reform and the opportunity for Tampa’s economic prosperity within our grasp," Barrett said.
First Citrus is one of 15 banks headquartered in the Tampa Bay area, after a wave of consolidation in the past two years cut the number of local banks nearly in half. All but two of the remaining banks have less than $10 billion in assets.
The bill will also benefit some of the larger retail banks in the Tampa Bay area, such as SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) or Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF), which currently face tough stress tests because they have more than $50 billion in assets. Those banks and other mid-tier banks under $250 billion in assets would face less regulatory scrutiny under the new measure.
See the original article in the Tampa Bay Business Journal