Congressional Deadlines and the Bank Regulatory Environment

When I have a deadline to meet, I become frustrated if I do not feel prepared. Generally the deadline is for an article that I need to write. At times it’s hard to decide what to write about; at other times, the struggle is in how to present a topic in a way that is informative and interesting.

It is similar to the pressure I recall from my college freshman class, English 101. That class was a communications bootcamp, requiring a series of theme papers, each at least two pages in length. Sometimes a topic was suggested, like the proverbial “blade of grass,” and other times we could write about anything we chose. I cannot say that I enjoyed the class, but in the end I gained practical skills that I still use today.

Many people probably share my frustration with meeting deadlines. For me, though, the price of a missed deadline is usually not very high. At worst, our magazine gets out a day or two late, or my blog is slightly off of our self-imposed schedule. For many of you, as bankers, the prices to pay are much steeper. Missing a deadline — for instance to raise capital required by a bank regulator — could result in the closing of a bank. The lives of shareholders, creditors, employees and possibly depositors are dramatically changed.

Much of the business of banking demands meeting deadlines, and it is amazing how well banks fare in this regard. Today’s banking systems permit electronic communications that aid in timely transaction posting, management reporting, auditing, etc. However the regulatory environment, while partially automated, continues to impose new deadlines, adding to the daily pressures felt by bankers.

Long-term, I hope some good news is coming regarding the pressure that bankers are under. There does appear to be a bipartisan realization on Capitol Hill that bankers, particularly community bankers, are facing regulatory burden overload. Several bills are under consideration that would provide regulatory relief to community banks. Congress works slowly, so the timing is unpredictable, but it is welcomed news that efforts are being made to provide for some easing of onerous regulations.

Congress, despite its poor record of meeting deadlines, needs to get these bills through the process within this congressional session, which ends in December 2014. If it fails to meet this deadline, then regulatory relief will start back at square one in the next session of Congress. The hit or miss of this deadline could have a huge effect on bankers, even though they have no control over it!

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