Interview: Anderson Tackles Tough Topics as ABA’s New Chair

In a wide-ranging interview with American Banker last week, American Bankers Association Chair Scott Anderson discussed his objectives for the year ahead and touched on a number of key industry issues. Anderson, who has been president and CEO of Utah-based Zions Bank for more than two decades, emphasized the importance of banker advocacy at all levels of government.

Addressing the IRS reporting issue that has been top-of-mind for bankers in recent days,  Anderson said the Biden administration’s proposal to require banks to report customer account flows to the Internal Revenue Service is “just a bad idea” no matter how it’s drafted, and banks “should not be the reporting arm of the IRS.” If the administration wants “a fair tax system” and needs increased revenues to pay programs in the proposed budget plan, taxing credit unions would be way to achieve that goal, he added. “We all need to carry our weight, and I think the tax exemption is a dinosaur that needs to go away.”

Turning to CFPB oversight, the bureau’s focus should go beyond “well regulated” banks to other organizations that aren’t subject to the same level of oversight, such as technology companies, credit unions, fintech neobanks and cryptocurrency organizations, Anderson said.

He also noted that while he’s “a big proponent” of environmental issues, he’s taking a cautious approach to proposals to incorporate climate risk into bank supervision. Anderson said doing so could have “a detrimental impact on access to capital,” but that he’s waiting for the Federal Reserve to comment further.

With regard to creating an inclusive economy, he underscored the importance of the Bank On movement, which ABA has long championed. “It’s becoming increasingly critical that everyone has a bank account that they can use and make available for electronic payments,” Anderson said. “I think the Bank On movement … fills the consumer services gap for unbanked and underbanked consumers and meets the needs of those living paycheck to paycheck.”