Pub. 2 2021 Issue 6 20 In Touch William J. Showalter, CRCM, CRP, is a Senior Consultant with Young & Associates, Inc. ( , with over 35 years experience in compliance consulting, advising and assisting financial institutions on consumer compliance and compliance management issues. He has authored or co-authored numerous compliance publications and articles and developed and conducted compliance training programs for individual banks and their trade associations. Bill can be reached at (330) 678-0524 or your performance and help you maximize the involvement and contribution of all areas within the bank. The senior transition team should think through at least the three core CRA goals that most banks really care about – promoting community well-being, since your bank is a community leader and this helps maintain an economically healthy market; doing business profitably, including serving low- and moderate-income (LMI) customers and areas as desirable business; and regulatory risk management, that is, avoiding regulatory problems. Do you have a corporate-wide mission statement that is a dynamic statement of the purpose of your CRA and community investment program? Have you set specific, measurable goals that reflect your business purposes and the applicable larger bank performance tests? Have you established accountabilities and strategies to achieve these goals? Do you have a larger bank CRA implementation schedule set up so you can fully meet your new requirements and performance standards? 5. Ensure full fair lending compliance. Fair lending issues pose a significant CRA risk for many banks. All your other work to enhance your CRA program can be brought down by fair lending problems, even subtle and unintentional forms of discrimination. You cannot earn a “satisfactory” CRA rating if examiners find any evidence of lending discrimination. Have all staff been trained how to avoid subtle disparate treatment by helping some customers more than others? Are there potential disparate impact issues in your loan programs – from marketing to underwriting to collections? Does the bank conduct a regular fair lending self-assessment to ensure that similar applicants receive similar treatment and outcomes? Is a formal second review process in place to ensure that lending decisions are consistent without regard to any “prohibited basis”? Do your marketing and delivery systems effectively reach a diverse market? 6. Establish supporting strategies to meet CRA goals. Detailed strategies should be developed for making progress in all organizational units within the bank and throughout your CRA assessment area. Have any identified gaps in lending been evaluated to determine whether products and underwriting standards are effectively matched to your target market? Is bank marketing directed to all customer segments within your assessment area? Have any identified gaps in service delivery systems been evaluated for any new approaches needed in delivering credit and other services? Are your investment options actively evaluated to ensure that investment test standards are met or exceeded? 7. Train staff in the new CRA program. All personnel should be trained, at a level appropriate for their role at the bank, in the larger bank requirements of the CRA rules and the specifics of the bank’s program to meet or exceed those expectations. Management and the directors need to be briefed on the larger bank requirements. All staff needs training in the bank’s CRA program and their roles and accountabilities. Lending staff needs guidance on extending credit successfully and safely, and soundly in nontraditional areas – such as affordable mortgages, government-backed loans, and other community development credits. 8. Communicate with the local community. Under a formal CRA strategic plan, such communication is required. However, it is still essential for the bank to gain input from local businesses, government, and community leaders and share your plans with them. There are two very good reasons for maintaining active communication with your community. An ongoing dialogue allows the bank to become aware of local needs and how to meet those needs profitably. A negative reason is that the CRA rules provide many opportunities for community members to comment on your performance – including during a CRA examination or when a corporate application is being considered by supervisors. 9. Meet the new technical requirements. Besides maintaining a CRA public file, posting lobby notices, and the other technical requirements that all financial institutions must meet, there are some additional obligations for “large banks.” These include small business and small farm loan data collection rules and somewhat expanded public file disclosure requirements. Your bank will be well served as you approach “intermediate small bank” or “large bank” CRA status by early and thorough consideration of the issues raised in this article. And be sure to take an objective look at where you are and where you should be. Glossing over shortcomings or minimizing enhanced expectations and requirements will not serve the bank’s interests.  Continued from page 19 There are two very good reasons for maintaining active communication with your community. An ongoing dialogue allows the bank to become aware of local needs and how to meet those needs profitably.