Nichols highlights ABA’s proactive posture on regulatory overreach

Amid what he called a “tsunami of new regulations,” American Bankers Association President and CEO Rob Nichols kicked off the Conference for Community Bankers in San Antonio today with a discussion of how ABA is pushing back on regulatory overreach. For example, Nichols discussed ABA’s recent lawsuit filed against the Community Reinvestment Act final rule.

“Not only does it fail to take into account banks’ demonstrated commitment to lend in communities across this country, but we think it also risks undermining the very goals of the statute by creating disincentives for banks to offer certain products or lend outside their branch network,” Nichols said. “This marks the third legal challenge we’ve filed against regulators in recent months. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: it’s never our preference to bring these kinds of lawsuits. But we won’t shy away from doing so when it’s necessary, and when we have no other recourse.”

Nichols also highlighted “another dangerous undercurrent at play here: regulation masquerading as guidance.” He announced that ABA has identified five recent “guidance” documents from the CFPB and FDIC that meet the definition of rules but which were issued as guidance without a forum for public comment. Today, ABA sent formal comment letters on this guidance and issued a white paper on how to improve guidance, and Nichols said he wrote to the agencies “cautioning them about circumventing the notice and comment process this way.”

Nichols unveils new ABA investments to bank innovation

As part of ABA’s commitment to supporting community bank innovation in an environment with more than 10,000 fintech and bank service providers to choose from, Nichols also announced the launch of the ABA Partner Network.

“You told us to position ourselves as a point of connection between your bank, and the providers offering the specific solutions that you need to achieve your innovation, operational and profitability goals, not necessarily the solution that an expert panel thinks is best for all banks, but the solution that’s best for your bank,” Nichols said. The ABA Partner Network will comprise a wide range of service providers, many of which are longtime ABA Associate Members and many of which will be new to the Partner Network.

Nichols also unveiled the first in a new series of independent ABA Product Assessments, a report on digital account opening solutions. “This first report—along with future reports—will provide a comprehensive picture of companies within a particular market segment,” Nichols said. “In conducting these Product Assessments, we will evaluate solutions offered by companies that are members of the ABA Partner Network, and companies that are not. Our evaluations will not be influenced by membership in the Partner Network or legacy status as an ABA Endorsed Solutions provider. In other words, we are making an investment in providing you with the best, most objective advice we can deliver.”