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Dealing with Wall Street Fallout

The Alabama Bankers Association assists commercial banks, small and large, with a watershed of regulations occasioned by freewheeling investment banks.

Alabama banks large and small are working to comply with new rules, says ABA President and CEO Scott Latham.

Alabama banks large and small are working to comply with new rules, says ABA President and CEO Scott Latham.

Given the timing of the 2012 merger between the Alabama Bankers Association and Community Bankers Association, it’s no wonder a state banking veteran said the move was “desperately needed.”

The merger came two years after the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created a litany of new banking regulations that has yet to end. Never have America’s current crop of bankers seen anything like the regulations coming out of the Dodd-Frank legislation.

“Bankers from both legacy associations recognized our industry would be better represented through the efforts of one organization as opposed to two,” says Scott Latham, president and CEO of the Alabama Bankers Association. “Communicating on issues with a single voice before state legislators allows us to speak in a unified fashion on issues important to our industry.”

The merger created a number of benefits for its member banks, including operational efficiencies that reduce costs; professional development and education programs for bankers and directors, and streamlined efforts in the area of governmental affairs. Working with Alabama banks to comply with the Dodd-Frank legislation will be a fixed target in the days ahead.

“Banks are among the most highly regulated organizations anywhere,” Latham says. “As an integral segment of our nation’s economy, we welcome good regulation and are proud of the safety and soundness associated with our commercial banks. But, as is the case in many industries, too much regulation — i.e., too much red tape — can create higher costs for individuals and businesses.

“Therefore, bankers often find themselves challenged to meet the wave of new regulations year after year. In every case, bankers would much prefer to focus on customer needs; however, a greater-than-ever amount of time and resources are spent plowing through new rules and regulations coming out of Washington. Every commercial bank — small and large — has already been impacted and will continue to be at the expense of risky Wall Street practices outside the realm of commercial banking.”

In the area of professional development, the Alabama Bankers Association provides web-based and live classroom training in most every area of a bank’s operations. The ABA also conducts an annual bank directors college in conjunction with the FDIC that draws more than 700 people a year; weeklong camps for bank compliance officers that attract more than 100 attendees a year and quarterly leadership luncheons for younger bankers, complemented by an annual weekend convention attended by roughly 200.

“The merger has created additional opportunities for bankers to become involved in their association,” Latham says. “The response to the merger has been one of overwhelming support, and we expect to see continued growth in each area of service to our member banks.”

Charlie Ingram is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. He lives in Birmingham.

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