2014 Peer Forum
The Community Development Bankers Association (CDBA) held its annual Peer Forum, a two day roundtable discussion featuring conversations between community development bank executives and leading community development finance experts, on April 30th and May 1st. This year’s event included discussions led by FDIC chairman Martin Gruenberg and Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Timothy Bowler.
The meeting, held at the Washington, D.C. office of law firm K&L Gates, was the largest Peer Forum yet with over 50 bankers in attendance from 37 community development banks.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Chairman Gruenberg praised community development banks’ commitment to their social mission and stressed the FDIC’s role in facilitating the banks’ activity. ”Your efforts to serve [low income communities] give you a special place in the financial system of the United States,” Chairman Gruenberg told the bankers. He noted that community development banks “deserve the special attention of bank regulatory agencies because [their] mission is in a fundamental sense a public one as well as a private one.”
In response to inquiries on how the FDIC examiners assess small banks, Gruenberg stressed that FDIC examiners do not consider any one bank asset size ideal and are instructed to defer to banks’ individual discretion. He also addressed findings of the FDIC's recent mobile banking research, urging the bankers to integrate mobile capabilities into their outreach to unbanked populations.
On the second day of the forum, Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Timothy Bowler engaged the bankers in a conversation on his office's continued efforts to wind down the Capital Purchase Program (CPP) and Community Development Capital Initiative (CDCI) programs. He encouraged input from the assembled bankers on the resolution of the fund, stressing that he hoped to find a way to dispose the assets in a way that both maximizes returns to taxpayers while also keeping Community Banks healthy. “We want to help facilitate your business of making loans in your communities. We want to see you fulfill the mission of TARP by carrying out your mission,” Bowler said.
Gene Ludwig, founder and CEO of Promontory Interfinancial Network, also led a discussion in which he urged attendees to apply to the Promontory Empowerment Awards, a series of grants that recognize financial and technological innovation by CDFIs.
Other panelists were drawn from a wide group of key industry actors including federal regulators from the FDIC, CFPB, OCC, CDFI Fund and Federal Reserve as well as banking technology experts and CDBA member bank executives. Topics of discussion included balancing mission with margin, the future of banking technology and risk management.
A Dynamic Organization
The forum also featured a special ceremony honoring Neighborhood National Bank Chairman and CEO Bob McGill, whose efforts were instrumental in founding CDBA. McGill was awarded the title of emeritus director. He will continue to participate in board meetings as a non-voting director and advisor.
CDBA held a Board of Directors election at the forum, in which Max Yates of BankPlus and Rebecca Humphries of Neighborhood National Bank were elected new directors. Jane Henderson of Community Capital Bank of Virginia was reappointed to the board; she will continue her current role as Board Chair until 2015.