Hsu: Trust critical for community banks to maintain competitive edge

Communities will respond to businesses that truly understand them and that is community banks’ greatest strength, although maintaining the advantage will require “a little bit of a change in mindset,” Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu said today at the American Bankers Association’s Conference for Community Bankers.

In a speech that mostly steered clear of banking regulation, Hsu said community banks can maintain their competitive edge through “hustle” to adapt to changing consumer needs and demands, adding diverse “new blood” to their boards and employee base, and maintaining the trust of their communities. “[Trust] is something that community banks are really, really good at,” he said. “The challenge is that communities are shifting, communities are changing. There has to be some adaptation to that, and I think that’s where hustle and new blood comes in.”

In a panel discussion after Hsu’s speech, ABA Chief Policy Officer Naomi Camper said she was inspired by the acting comptroller’s positivity about how banks can help their communities. At the same time, she was troubled that there was no acknowledgment of how the numerous regulatory proposals currently in play would impede community banks from achieving that vision. “It’s lovely, but they are making it harder for us to do what they want us to do,” she said.