Career winding down, Fine delivers final ICBA convention address

Camden Fine

After serving nearly 15 years as the president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, Camden Fine delivered his last address at an ICBA convention March 14 in Las Vegas. Fine will retire from the association in May, and Rebeca Romero Rainey will take over.

Fine told the group of more than 1,000 bankers that the association has made a lot of progress since he delivered his first convention speech as ICBA president and CEO in 2004.

“When I came to Washington, a bank was a bank was a bank. And we were thrown under the same one-size-fits-all regulatory umbrella as everybody else. I have worked every day for 15 years to convince policymakers that community banks are unique, that we are a unique brand, a distinct segment of the financial services industry, just as the fintechs or regionals or too-big-to-fails are distinct segments,” Fine said.

“And after 15 years of militant advocacy, our brand means something. You mean something. You are all a brand. Today, you are in the policy mix.”

Fine noted that The Hill, a newspaper serving people who work on Capitol Hill, named ICBA one of the nation’s “top 10 most influential trade groups.” There have been several industry victories, orchestrated by ICBA, in the last 15 years, he said, including:

  • Preventing WalMart from getting a bank charter;
  • Changing the deposit insurance assessment formula to shift more of the cost responsibility to the largest banks;
  • Increasing the level of deposit insurance per account to $250,000;
  • Improving subchapter S regulations;
  • Increasing the range of small bank holding company exemptions;
  • Increasing SEC registration threshold to banks with 2,000 shareholders from 500; and
  • Getting an exemption preventing CFPB examination crews from visiting community banks.

“We have made serious progress toward the two-tiered regulatory system,” Fine said.

Fine noted the U.S. Senate is on the verge of passing regulatory relief legislation. (The Senate passed the bill later that day.) He urged bankers to continue to advocate for S. 2155. “I urge this convention to bring that bill home. Don’t stop until we get this bill signed by the president,” Fine said. “When this bill goes over to the House, I want every person in the room to contact your member of the House of Representatives and say ‘pass this Senate bill.’ Get it done,” he said.

Fine told bankers he considered it a privilege to represent them. “I started my career in the check sorting room of Exchange National Bank in Jefferson City, Missouri, and I finished my career representing the community banks of the United States in Washington, D.C. I have loved every minute of it. I am confident that the ICBA and the community banking system will not only survive but it will thrive well into the future. Being president of ICBA has been the greatest privilege of my life. The most rewarding aspect of this job has been being with all of you.”

A former community banker from New Mexico, Romero Rainey has already taken an office on the ICBA staff in Washington, D.C.