Site Visit: Citizens Bank of Florida Believes Others Have Competitive Advantage

By Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate

The Office of Advocacy visited Citizens Bank of Florida in Orlando on June 6th to listen to the concerns of community bank leaders about federal regulation of small institutions in the financial services industry.

Officials at Citizens expressed their belief that federal guidelines give credit unions a competitive advantage over small banks. They contend that credit unions now offer commercial loans in an over-extension of their original jurisdiction. They argued that credit unions do not have to pay taxes, and, as a result, can offer better terms. This has created a competitive disadvantage for local banks, which has resulted in a 20-25% loss to local banks.

They added that American Express’ ability to extend and increase lines of credit with their customers has eaten into the business of local banks, and that Dodd-Frank has killed local banks. There have been no new banks opened, and existing banks have had to regionalize in order to stay in business since passage of Dodd-Frank, they said.

Citizens officials also talked about the burden that the Americans with Disabilities Act adds to their other challenges. New ADA regulations regarding the use of ATM machines by the vision-impaired required Citizens to replace every ATM, even drive up ATMs.  It was so expensive that Citizens removed 50% of their machines because they couldn’t afford to comply with these new regulations. Under the ADA, websites had to be changed to ensure they were not discriminating against the vision impaired.  This has resulted in removal of content.

They added that the Bank Secrecy Act has caused such a financial strain on local banks that they are not profitable until they are $1B in size.  Expenses have included one FTE and five part-time resources across all departments, plus software. Their annual expense has been from $600,000 – $700,000 just to comply with the Act.

The Office of Advocacy appreciated the visit to Citizens Bank of Florida and meeting the leadership of the organization. Like so many great American small businesses, they simply want to perform a public service, make a profit, and be treated fairly by the federal government. We learned a lot during this stop on our three-day tour of central and northeastern Florida, where the American entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.

Advocacy was in Florida for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables June 5-7th.

Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables. 

Rhett Davis is the Region 6 Advocate covering Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Davis can be reached at Rhett.Davis@sba.gov.

 

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