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Overregulation Driving Illinois Community Banks Batty

by Chicago Agent

For the second time in as many months, community bankers are taking it to the government to speak out against excessive regulations.

It’s tough for small community banks – though they had little to no impact on the financial crisis and steered clear of many of the exotic options that have troubled housing since 2007, many are facing an increasingly difficult regulatory environment that has forced them to reconsider their business plans.

According to a new survey conducted by the Illinois Bankers Association of 160 Illinois community banks, more than a third  are considering either a sale or merger in response to overwhelming regulation.

In addition to the survey, Illinois bankers testified before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday at the committee’s hearing in Chicago, saying that Dodd-Frank, the massive financial regulatory package passed by Congress last July, is making business increasingly difficult for small banks.

“Consider the significant impact on the state of Illinois and its communities if these banks can’t survive amid the mass of new regulations,” said James Roolf, chairman of the IBA, in a HousingWire piece on the hearing.

In addition to Dodd-Frank, the bankers were similarly concerned with the still-gestating Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), expressing fears that like Dodd-Frank, the agency’s big-bank regulations will come down especially hard on community banks.

William Bates, the executive vice president of Seaway Bank and Trust Co., said the regulations could have a devastating effect on communities.

“Without quick and bold action to relieve some of the regulatory burden, there will be a contraction of the banking industry, with banks disappearing from communities over the next few years,” Bates said. “Each bank that disappears from the community makes that community poorer.”

This is not the first time that community bankers have taken their cause straight to the political committees. Just last month, Chicago Agent reported on a national coalition of bankers who spoke out against excessive regulation.

Since 2008, the FDIC has closed 47 banks in Illinois, while another 28 have merged into larger firms, according to the HousingWire piece.

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