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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mutual Banks: Banker-Examiner Communications Are Critical

The importance of banker-examiner communications was the prime focus of a federal and state regulators’ panel discussion yesterday at the ABA Mutual Community Bank Conference in Washington, D.C.

Mutual community bankers who feel that their institution’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency examiners don’t understand the mutual process should push back, talk to the examiner-in-charge and “push it up the chain,” said Jennifer Kelly, the OCC’s senior deputy comptroller for mid-size and community banks.

The New Hampshire Banking Department looks closely at an institution’s risk profile, added Ronald Wilbur, the department commissioner and a former banker, who provided the state regulator’s perspective. “We know the players and the community in New Hampshire, and we let you make the calls about risk -- within parameters,” he said.

James Watkins, the FDIC’s deputy director for supervisory examinations, opted to talk about the regulator’s community bank initiative that, among other things, is seeking a definition of community banking based on size and activity. The agency is conducting the study to ascertain what the future may hold for community banks, and also to determine why some banks succeed and others don’t, he said.

James McKenna, president and CEO of North Shore Bank FSB in Brookfield, Wis., who moderated the panel, reminded his mutual bank colleagues that “we have options,” and that’s the greatest thing about mutuality.

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