Nichols on ABA’s message to policymakers: ‘Let banks do what banks do best’

The American Bankers Associatio will be taking a “simple and succinct” message to policymakers in the weeks and months ahead: “let banks do what banks do best,” ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said today. In remarks at the 2022 Annual Convention, which kicked off today in Austin, Texas, Nichols urged policymakers to “let banks do what banks do best” when it comes to providing products and services customers want and need; make their own business and lending decisions; help consumers move money quickly, safely and easily; protect consumers from fraud and scams; and expand opportunities for financial inclusion.

“What we’re seeing lately is the government stepping in and saying: ‘we think we know better,'” Nichols told convention attendees, citing among other things ongoing attacks on overdraft fees, the CFPB’s public relations campaign targeting so-called “junk fees,” and a bill recently introduced in both houses of Congress that would impose new credit card routing mandates on card issuers.

Nichols also highlighted ABA’s efforts to push back against government overreach with the association’s lawsuit against the CFPB over its recent exam manual updates, which dramatically expanded the bureau’s UDAAP authority and which was done in violation of the notice and comment process outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act. ABA filed the lawsuit last week together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Consumer Bankers Association, and four Texas organizations including the Texas Bankers Association, the Longview Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Bankers Association of Texas and the Texas Association of Business.

“As the bureau has not seen fit to rethink this powergrab, despite reasonable requests from ABA and others, we decided to pursue the only action we could,” Nichols said, adding that “we don’t want to sue federal agencies, but when they operate outside their legal boundaries and impose obligations on banks that Congress never authorized, ABA will respond.”