On Thursday of last week, the House passed the Innovation Act intended to slow down the patent troll litigation that has plagued many industries, including community banking. The bill, H.R. 3309, passed 325-91 with bipartisan support. The Texas House members' vote followed the vote of other House members with thirty members voting for the bill and five voting no. The bill requires lawsuits on patents to clearly state the claim and state the owner of the patent. It also delays discovery until the claim is clearly stated and assesses legal fees to the losing party. The bill now goes to the Senate, where this issue will be the subject of a hearing on December 18. We are optimistic that some meaningful relief is forthcoming to address this problematic area.
Staff contact: Shannon Phillips, email@example.com, 512-275-2221
IBAT staff will be on Capitol Hill this week seeking additional Texas co-sponsors for HR 1750/S 1349, the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act (CLEAR Act).
IBAT wishes to thank Representatives Granger, Farenthold, Marchant, Neugebauer, Thornberry, Veasey and Williams for their co-sponsorship of this much needed legislation. Introduced by Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, the legislation currently has 89 co-sponsors and contains many important provisions and priorities identified by IBAT's Community Bank Legislative Task Force including:
- Provides "qualified mortgage" status under the CFPB's ability-to-repay rules for any mortgage originated and held in portfolio for at least three years by a lender with less than $10 billion in assets.
- Exempts from any escrow requirements any first lien mortgage held by a lender with less than $10 billion in assets.
- Exempts servicers that service 20,000 or fewer mortgages from certain new servicing rules.
- Provides an exemption from the independent appraisal requirement for mortgages of less than $250,000.
- Provides that a financial institution is not required to provide an annual privacy notice to its customers if it has not changed its privacy policies.
- Exempts community banks with assets of less than $10 billion from the Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b) internal-controls assessment mandates. The exemption threshold would be adjusted annually to account for any growth in banking assets.
- Requires the SEC to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of new or amended accounting principles.
- Requires the Federal Reserve to revise the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement by increasing the qualifying asset threshold from $500 million to $1B.
"The CLEAR Act is among our top DC priorities," said IBAT President and CEO Chris Williston. "We need all IBAT members to contact their member of Congress and encourage them to co-sponsor this important legislation."
A complete listing of all Texas Congressional phone numbers can be found here. If your member of Congress is not already a co-sponsor, please contact their office to request they sign on to this important community bank initiative.
ICBA has an excellent "Action Alert" page which allows you to send an email directly to your member of Congress and Senators. Please customize the form letter with some personal observations and anecdotes.
Last week, the IBAT Bottom Line featured our annual end-of-year compliance checklist, compiled by IBAT General Counsel Karen Neeley. This week, IBAT Regulatory Compliance Manager Kelly Goulart shares the first part of his expanded checklist, which includes:
- Scrubbing your HMDA Data;
- Preventing Government Monitoring Information and Action Code errors; and
- Updating your CRA Public File.
Next week's final 2013 regular edition of the Bottom Line will feature parts two and three of Kelly's year-end list.
IBAT and IBAT Financial Services are proud to partner with Travelers Insurance Group in marketing their SelectOne® portfolio products to Texas community banks. Earlier this month, The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) announced that more than 1,200 member community banks across the nation would share a $2.3 million policyholder dividend resulting from their group experience in the Travelers SelectOne® ICBA insurance program during the 2012 program year.
As a reward for successfully managing their insurance exposures - which reduces claims - policyholders in the program are receiving this dividend for the twelfth consecutive year.
We are pleased to announce that registration for the IBAT Winter Summit XIV is now open. This popular program, now in its 14th year, provides an unmatched opportunity to learn from senior regulators and expert banking attorneys as well as access to timely information on the economy, interest rate trends and investment strategies. In addition to the interactive general sessions, there are ample opportunities for networking and informal conversations with the speakers and other attendees.
The program will again be held in beautiful South Lake Tahoe, and the schedule allows for time to take advantage of an abundance of recreational opportunities.
Register now and make plans to join us February 9-11, 2014 for another outstanding program... and a great educational value.
Surprises to the upside are almost always well received. Like getting a Baker’s dozen at the Crispy Creme, or finding a good parking spot downtown. [Last] week’s slate of economic releases contained a few upside surprises of its own. Nothing quite on the same order as discovering there’s an extra glazed donut in the box, but still some pretty good news. [Friday] morning, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment report, we learned that the Unemployment Rate fell to 7% from October’s 7.3%. That’s a five year low. Finding out that the economy added 203k new Non-Farm Payroll jobs last month was almost as surprising, since that increase was only expected to be around 185k. Deeper within the report we also learned that the steadily declining Labor Force Participation Rate actually rose slightly to 63% from 62.8%. But wait, that’s not all; the Employment-Population Ratio likewise stopped its downhill slide and increased slightly to 58.6% from 58.3%. Confirmation of a healing labor market? Maybe... Read more in the Baker Market Update.
CEDAR PARK, Texas, December 2, 2013, Innovation. Imagination. Integration.
IBT, is a leading innovator of financial services products and best of breed solutions. IBT provides cost effective enterprise wide technology which improves process and the customer experience for financial institutions. Today, IBT announced that Texas-based Schwertner State Bank has installed IBT's Branch Capture and Remote Deposit Capture solution. The Texas-based bank's decision was designed to streamline operations, improve back-office efficiencies and reduce risk with a user friendly experience and built in disaster recovery while providing total flexibility depositing funds in a timely and efficient manner.
Sherry Williams, Senior Vice President and Cashier of Schwertner State Bankstated, "The system we were previously using was antiquated. During our two year search we had narrowed down our options to two. By chance, an IBT representative came to the bank right before I was to decide. He introduced us to their Check 21 Branch Capture product. The employees of IBT were very knowledgeable and easy to work with. The product is easy to use and we have the ability to research items in a timely manner. When the time comes to upgrade again we will definitely move to IBT's complete image teller platform."
"IBT looks forward to working with the Schwertner State Bank to deliver a cost effective solution today and provide continued upgrade flexibility seamlessly in the future with the most efficient and integrated technology available on the market. We have a history of successful partnerships with banks like Schwertner in providing the best solution with process improvement for their business. That experience translates to what we refer to as 'The IBT Difference,'" said Mike Golebiowski, president of IBT.
About Schwertner State Bank
Schwertner State Bank is locally owned and offers fast, friendly, convenient, and professional banking services that meet your needs. If you recently moved, we make it easy to switch to Schwertner Bank with a thorough checklist.The bank recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary. We have two branches in the Schwertner-Jarrell area. Our slogan is "Yesterday's wisdom is tomorrow's vision". We make it easy to bank at Schwertner.
For more information, visit www.txloanstar.com
Headquartered in Cedar Park, Texas, IBT specializes in providing complete enterprise automation for financial institutions with products such as core processing, Check 21 proof automation, mobile banking, internet banking, document imaging, and Personal Financial Management applications complete with 24/7 support services. The company focus is to push the innovation envelope to improve process and deliver reliable real time information across all delivery channels. The IBT suite of products delivers robust functionality and flexibility with product creation making the cost of ownership affordable while dramatically improving customer experience.
Discover "The IBT Difference", Privately Held, Personal Relationships and Total Commitment to our customers.
For more information, visit www.IBTapps.com
TechMecca: C is for Compliance!
We invite you to register for TechMecca 2014! This year's event theme is C (compliance) - O (operations) - R (risk management) - E (enterprise efficiency)!
Compliance sessions include:
Conference Registration Fees (Three-for-One Pricing)
Staff Contact: Julie Courtney, firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-275-2227
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 25, 2013)—With the holidays quickly approaching, the Independent Community Bankers of America ® (ICBA) and the nation’s nearly 7,000 community banks offer consumers the following tips to consider if they are planning to make any of their holiday purchases online.
“Even though the holiday season can be quite busy, it’s never too busy to ensure that your personal information is safe when shopping online,” said Bill Loving, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank, Franklin, W.Va.
The total financial loss attributed to identity theft in 2013 is estimated to be $21 billion, according to the Department of Justice and Javelin Strategy and Research. Consumers need to be on high alert this holiday season, and any time they choose to make purchases online, to avoid falling victim to identity theft and to protect their sensitive financial information.
With that in mind, ICBA offers the following tips:
- Make sure your computer and browser are secure. Set your firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software to automatically update and scan your computer.
- Don’t create passwords that include easily accessible personal information, such as mother’s maiden name or date of birth. Instead, use something unique that only you know.
- Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you know whom you’re dealing with and preferably only if you’ve initiated the contact. Never give out Social Security or driver’s license numbers. If you must share personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
- If you receive an email asking for personal information, do not hit the reply button or click on any link in the email. Instead, go directly to the sender’s site by typing in its website address.
- Look for secure sites with an “s” in the URL (https://) and a closed-padlock icon on the Web page when making purchases. These websites are secure.
- Always double-check the URL to be sure you are shopping with the company you intended to shop with. A simple typo can help identity thieves.
“The most important thing is our customers’ safety and financial security,” Loving said. “If any customer has questions about the security of their financial information, community bankers are more than happy to answer any problems or concerns you might have. We want information about you and your family to be safe and protected at all times.”
To learn more about community banks, visit www.icba.org.
The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for nearly 7,000 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit www.icba.org.
The November/December issue of the IBAT Magazine, The Texas Independent Banker, is now available online.
Included in the issue:
As reported in a previous edition of the IBAT Bottom Line, the federal banking regulatory agencies jointly proposed diversity assessment standards for their regulated entities. The proposed standards concentrate on four areas: commitment to diversity, workforce profile and employment practices, vendor diversity, and transparency.
Last week, IBAT filed its comment letter on the proposed standards, praising the agencies for allowing self-assessment and providing flexibility depending on circumstances. Although the proposal asks for comments on how to measure whether an institution has adopted standards and engaged in assessments that meet requirements, IBAT's letter points out that the Dodd-Frank Act authorizes the agencies to develop standards for assessing diversity, but does not authorize them to impose any requirements. IBAT's letter addresses other issues raised by the proposal, including vendor diversity, privacy and the timing of self-assessments.
IBAT members are encouraged to file comment letters on this issue, specifically addressing the inquiries made by agencies beginning on page 21 of the proposed joint standards.
NORTHSTAR BANK OF TEXAS has been named one of the Best Banks to Work For in the under $3 billion category. The program, which was initiated in 2013 to identify, recognize and honor the best banks to work for in the nation, is a project of American Banker and Best Companies Group.
In all, 35 banks achieved “Best Bank” status in this inaugural program. Banks had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
- Have at least 50 employees working in the US;
- Be a Commercial Bank, Thrift, Mutual Association, Mutual Savings Bank, Savings and Loan Association or a Savings Bank.
Determining the Best Banks to Work For involved a two-step process. The first step consisted of evaluating each participating bank’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of employee surveys aimed at assessing the experiences and attitudes of individual employees with respect to their workplace. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top banks and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.
In addition, for the sixth straight year, NORTHSTAR BANK OF TEXAS has brought recognition to the region, when they were once again named as one of the Best Companies to Work for in Texas for the year 2014. NORTHSTAR BANK has been listed in the Top 10 companies from 2009-2014 by the Texas Monthly magazine. This recognition will be presented in Austin in the first quarter of 2014.
As a member of Carlile Bancshares, Inc., NORTHSTAR BANK is headquartered in Denton, TX and continues to be a leader in the banking and mortgage industries. They have 16 Banking Centers throughout Texas and are in construction with their 17th location in Flower Mound, TX. Tony R. Clark, President / CEO stated: “We are once again extremely proud of our professional staff and our personalized style of banking being recognized with these honors. Our employees are truly the key ingredient to our success.”
Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender
Contact: Michele Barber
940-383-6211 or email@example.com
IBAT is pleased to offer you and your directors a pre-convention program, February 26-28, prior to ICBA's 2014 Convention in Maui. Our two morning programs, facilitated by two of community banking's top consultants, will focus on the strategic direction of your bank. Ed Krei, Senior Partner with The Baker Group in Oklahoma City, and Merrill Reynolds, Principal with Reynolds Williams Group of New Braunfels, Texas, will lead the sessions.
Accommodations have been secured at the world class Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka'anapali. IBAT's room block is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Independent Bankers Association of Texas filed an amicus brief in a Texas Supreme Court case (Sims v. Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC) that will have a far reaching effect on home equity loan modifications. The three issues before the court are whether a lender may:
- capitalize delinquent obligations (past due interest, insurance premiums, and taxes) when modifying;
- modify the loan notwithstanding that the debts secured by the homestead are greater than 80% of the current value of the homestead; and
- modify each time a borrower defaults without effectively converting the closed-end loan into an open-end loan.
To follow Texas law and protect troubled debtors from foreclosure, the Supreme Court should answer each of these questions in the affirmative.
"For generations, Texas community banks have used modifications to work with troubled borrowers," remarked Karen Neeley, IBAT General Counsel. "If that tool is taken away from them when dealing with defaulted home equity borrowers, the resulting lack of flexibility will limit the options lenders can offer borrowers to avoid foreclosures."
In the November 19th edition of the Bottom Line, we joined ICBA and numerous other state independent banking associations across the country to ask for grassroots support to add new cosponsors for two important community bank regulatory relief bills – H.R. 1750/S. 1349, also known as the CLEAR Act.
We are pleased to report that so far, 19 new cosponsors have been added to these bills. Joining Texas Congress members Farenthold, Neugebauer, Thornberry and Veasey are Kay Granger, Kenny Marchant and Roger Williams. We appreciate these members cosponsoring this important initiative, and hope to add to the list going forward.
If you haven't yet contacted your member of Congress, please make this a priority. Further information is available in the link above.
IBAT's annual end-of-year compliance checklist is now available online. The list was compiled by IBAT General Counsel Karen Neeley and is featured in the November/December issue of the IBAT Magazine, The Texas Independent Banker. Also included in the issue:
- Executive Leadership of Cybersecurity;
- Small Banks Make Mistakes Cybercriminals Love;
- High Touch, High Tech, High Efficiency Banking: Meeting the Needs of Your Marketplace; and
- What Your Board of Directors Should Know: The Top 5 Questions Directors Should Ask Management About Technology Planning.
Beginning next week and continuing throughout the month of December, IBAT Regulatory Compliance Manager Kelly Goulart will be offering an expanded year-end compliance checklist in the IBAT Bottom Line eNewsletter.
With disparate impact theory standing at the heart of a recent uptick in the number of fair lending referrals, the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on November 19, 2013, entitled “A General Overview of Disparate Impact Theory.” The hearing reviewed the legal and theoretical underpinnings of disparate impact theory and explored the consequences of its application in various contexts, such as housing and lending policy.
Representative Al Green (D-TX), a member of the subcommittee, expressed his hope that Congress would not eliminate or limit 40 years of good standing law. However, Congressman Green conceded that the law might be improved.
Speaking against using disparate impact was Peter Kirsanow, Commissioner, United States Commission on Civil Rights. Kirsanow stated his belief that disparate impact violates the Equal Protection Clause, elevates equal outcome over equal opportunity, tends to harm the intended beneficiaries, and is antithetical to the proposition that we judge people by their character rather than the color of their skin.
A witness from the Louis B. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law testified that disparate impact, although potentially useful, is not being properly administered by federal agencies. The third and final witness, from the ACLU, advocated disparate impact as a necessary tool in fighting discrimination, whether intentional or inadvertent, especially in cases in which motivation is hard to ascertain.
An archive webcast and copies of the submitted written testimony are available on the House Financial Services Committee website.
IBAT's unique financial institution technology show, TechMecca, will be here before you know it. We know that, with any decision to implement new technology solutions into your bank, there are a number of individuals and departments that must first sign off. That's why IBAT is committed to making TechMecca a cost-effective event for Texas community bankers, offering a "three for the price of one" special on registration. That's three attendees for the low cost of $695.
TechMecca 2014 is scheduled for February 3-4 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. This year's show focuses on the CORE areas of concern for community bankers, C-compliance, O-operations, R-risk management and E-enterprise efficiency. The full schedule is now available online and registration is now open.