Banks frustrated by rules that hinder helping customers

December 5, 2011 3:27:12 PM PST
Small business owners running into red tape and stricter rules at banks may be forced to find private funding or forced out of business.

Illinois bankers say they are frustrated by federal regulation that is keeping them from helping their customers.

A congressional committee is gathering testimony that may lead to the easing of those regulations.

Seaway bank started its first branch in 1965 in Chatham. In recent years, the bank has taken over branches for other banks that failed in the suburbs and in Milwaukee.

Seaway and other local community banks are struggling to continue serving their customers and adhering to strict new federal regulation.

On Monday, local bank executives testified before a congressional financial services committee at the Dirksen Federal Building.

"The expenditures that our bank has incurred for regulatory compliance takes away from the resources that can be directly applied to serving the banks' community," said Seaway Bank's William Bates Jr.

Jim Roolf, of the Illinois Bankers Association, said, "Illinois and the rest of the country can simply not afford to have fewer banks. Our communities depend on banks everyday."

Congress created 400 new bank regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act. It was primarily a response to the nation's financial crisis.

Committee chair Judy Biggert would like to scale back regulations to help smallers banks.

"Unfortunately, our job creators access to capital has become the casualty as bankers are left scrambling with how to play by the new rules," Biggert said.

Fair housing advocates also testified Monday. They cite the actions of some big banks that contributed to the housing crisis, impacting individual homeowners and entire neighborhoods.

They urge maintaining banking regulation to protect consumers.

"We believe that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 contains important provisions and tools that will address many of the problems that led to current foreclosure and economic crisis," said Dory Rand of the Woodstock Institute.

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