First day at the top of ICBA for Romero Rainey

Rebeca Romero Rainey, president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America. Photo by Stephen Gosling.

Editor’s Note: Rebeca Romero Rainey began her tenure as president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America on May 6, 2018. Romero Rainey shared her advocacy vision for ICBA with BankBeat’s Editor-in-Chief Jackie Hilgert. On the occasion of her first day of business in her new role, we thought we’d share a sample of her comments below. Look for a profile on Romero Rainey in the June edition of NorthWestern Financial Review magazine, along with parting thoughts from Camden Fine.

Advocacy [at ICBA] is focused on S. 2155. Overall, this concept of proportional regulation just has to be driven home. We have to find the ways that regulation is structured around the risk that community banks represent. Also, advocating for the level playing field, ensuring that as an industry we have an opportunity to compete. We will go head to head with anyone, but we want the level playing field.

ICBA and community bankers have so much to be proud of on the advocacy front. We led the effort to get substantial regulatory relief through Congress via The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), which would tailor financial services regulations to ease the burden of red tape on locally based community banks. Now we’re working to pass the bill through the House and send it to the president’s desk. President Trump has already indicated that he will sign it if it reaches his desk.

We will also work to ensure that the environment is welcoming to new de novo institutions. We’ll continue our discussions with the FDIC and other regulators. We are also engaging with the CFPB to ensure our perspective and views are heard as its new leadership refocuses its mission and approach and undertakes a review of its entire operation.

The M&A trend is concerning. We need more community banks, not fewer, that’s why the work we do is so important, whether it’s in advocacy or innovation or education, to support those community banks so they can remain competitive. There’s an opportunity for us to think about the rules around de novo charter and the ability to form new banks and bring new growth to the industry. Rule changes, specifically, the amount of capital required to come to the table, the application process itself, the length of time that it’s taking are a couple of areas where I’d like to see us have an environment that encourages and supports that development of community banks.