Bankers plead for relief from 'regulatory tsunami'

The nation’s community bankers launched a petition Monday calling for relief from quarterly reporting regulations they say are needlessly onerous.

The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) are targeting requirements related to “call reports” that must be submitted to regulators four times a year.

Increasing layers of red tape associated with the reports have expanded the report to 80 pages that must be completed, along with 670 pages of related instructions, said ICBA Senior Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Terry J. Jorde.

“The call report is one piece of the overall regulatory tsunami that needs to be addressed before community banks are swept off the face of America’s banking landscape,” she said.

Community banks, along with credit unions, have complained that an influx of financial regulations imposed in response to the 2008 economic crisis have disproportionately hit the smaller institutions, which have fewer compliance officials, than the Wall Street giants seen as the real targets of the new rules.

The petition follows a survey of community banks, which concluded that costs of preparing the call report have spiked by 86 percent over the last decade. Banks are spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to comply.

And the regulatory burden is expected to increase with additional reporting requirements proposed under a set of international standards known as Basel III.

The banks are pressing for revised rules that would relax requirements for certain highly rated and well-capitalized banks. Under the proposal, those banks would be allowed to submit a short-form call report in the first and third quarters of a year.

“This streamlined report would provide sufficient information for regulators to monitor safety and soundness while being significantly less burdensome to prepare, allowing community banks to focus more resources on their customers and communities, the group said.