ABA-Advocated Thrift Flexibility Bills Introduced in Senate, House

Reps. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) today introduced bills advocated by the American Bankers Association to help federal savings associations serve their customers more flexibly while retaining their unique thrift charter.

The bills 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. They would give thrifts more options to diversify their portfolios.

“These bills are the epitome of sensible regulatory relief,” said ABA EVP Bob Davis. “They will allow mutual and stock savings associations chartered under the Home Owners Loan Act to better serve the needs of their communities without having to go through lengthy and costly charter conversions.”

The proposal — a key part of ABA’s Blueprint for Growth — is modeled on an approach championed by Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry when he was commissioner of banking in Massachusetts. The OCC is supportive of the concept behind the legislation, and a similar bill cleared the House Financial Services Committee unanimously in the last Congress.

“ABA has long championed greater flexibility for HOLA-chartered institutions to adapt their business models to changing demographics and changing needs in their communities,” added 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.”