OCC’s Curry Calls for Greater Thrift Flexibility

In a speech yesterday, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry encouraged Congress to grant federal savings associations greater flexibility to serve the changing needs of their customers without having to change their charter.

“Over time, markets change and customers’ needs evolve. But, if a federal savings association wants to adjust its strategy to increase commercial lending or some types of consumer credit, it’s stuck — unless it changes charters. That’s expensive and should be unnecessary,” Curry said. “The charter should accommodate change.”

Curry’s remarks followed the introduction of two bipartisan bills earlier this week in the House and Senate that would provide a simple process for thrifts to elect to receive the lending powers — and compliance responsibilities — of national banks without changing their Home Owners Loan Act Charters. As a former commissioner of banking in Massachusetts, Curry championed a similar approach to charter flexibility for state-chartered thrift institutions, and added that “it makes sense for the federal thrift charter too.”

The current proposed legislation is a key part of ABA’s Blueprint for Growth, and the association applauded the introductions of the bills. “ABA has long championed greater flexibility for HOLA-chartered institutions to adapt their business models to changing demographics and changing needs in their communities,” said ABA EVP Bob Davis. “Federal saving associations have a long, proud history of being responsive to their communities’ needs, and this legislation will help them to enhance and continue that record.”

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