Volcker RuleICBA Addresses Interim Final Volcker Rule in Statement to CongressFollowing the federal banking regulators’ release of an interim final rule on the Volcker Rule, ICBA told Congress that legislation helped pressure regulators to respond to ICBA concerns. In a statement for a House Financial Services Committee hearing, ICBA said the legislation would protect community banks from the unintended consequences of Volcker Rule provisions on collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) backed by trust-preferred securities (TruPS). Prior to the regulators’ release of an interim final rule revising the Volcker Rule, the rule would have required, in certain instances, that banks divest their holdings of these securities and write down these investments under “other than temporary impairment” accounting standards. For some banks, writing down these securities would have resulted in a permanent loss of capital. The interim final rule was released following ICBA’s frequent communications and meetings with the banking agencies and Congress. It permits banks to retain TruPS CDOs they owned as of Dec. 10, 2013, if the CDOs were issued before May 19, 2010, and are backed primarily by TruPS or subordinated debt of bank holding companies that had less than $15 billion in assets when the securities were issued or of mutual holding companies. Regulators provided a non-exclusive list of the TruPS CDOs that meet this test. Banks of all sizes are permitted to retain the qualifying CDOs, but the TruPS CDOs are exempt from the Volcker Rule only if the bank owned the CDO before Dec. 10. Thus, any TruPS CDOs purchased by banks after that date would have to be divested by July 2015. The rule will avoid the dramatic market impact of revised accounting treatment and forced divestiture of these securities, an important response to ICBA’s repeated calls for the regulators to exempt TruPS CDOs from the Volcker Rule. ICBA is reviewing the interim final rule to assess its impact and will weigh options for pursuing additional relief measures as necessary. ICBA resources on the rule are available on the association’s new webpage dedicated to the Volcker Rule TruPS CDOs provisions. Read ICBA Testimony. Read the Interim Final Rule. Read the Agency News Release. Read the Non-Exclusive List of TruPS CDOs that Are Not Covered Funds. Access Additional Volcker Rule Resources. SecurityRequest a Recording of ICBA’s Target Security Breach Town Hall Audio CallCommunity bankers can request a recording of yesterday’s ICBA town hall audio conference on the security breaches at Target and other retailers is available on ICBA’s comprehensive toolkit dedicated to the breach. The “Target Security Breach: What You Need To Know” webinar offered a recap of the available facts of the case and how community banks can respond. Community bankers can continue to ask questions and share their experiences by emailing SecurityBreach@icba.org, ICBA’s email address dedicated exclusively to helping community bankers with the breach. The audio conference is part of the ICBA Toolkit on Maintaining Consumer Confidence During a Data Security Breach. The toolkit provides a variety of resources community bankers can use to respond to these security breaches and to defend against future criminal acts. Request the Recording on ICBA’s Toolkit. SBAICBA Congratulates Community Banker on Nomination for SBA AdministratorICBA congratulated ICBA member Maria Contreras-Sweet following her nomination to head the Small Business Administration. Contreras-Sweet is the founder and chairman of ProAmérica Bank, a community bank in Los Angeles. In addition to founding the Latino-owned ProAmérica Bank, Contreras-Sweet has served as secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, where she oversaw 40,000 state employees and a $12 billion budget. She also has served and on the board of California Blue Cross. Read ICBA Release. Farm CreditICBA Asks Farm Credit System Regulator to Explain Secret MeetingICBA sent a letter to the Farm Credit Administration asking the Farm Credit System regulator to explain its secret and exclusive meeting held Wednesday related to potentially expanding the mission of the FCS. ICBA asked why there was no publication of this meeting or its agenda in advance; why ICBA was excluded from attending; whether public policy issues related to expanding the lending powers of the FCS would be discussed; and several additional questions. Read ICBA Letter.RegulatorsCFPB Seeks Applications for Community Bank Advisory CouncilThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it is seeking applications for positions on its advisory groups, including the Community Bank Advisory Council. The CBAC provides the CFPB with feedback on policy development, research, rulemaking and engagement. The bureau said the CBAC was created to ensure it receives feedback from community banks less than $10 billion in assets, which are not under the CFPB’s supervision but may be affected by bureau regulations. CBAC members serve single two-year terms. Applications will be accepted until Feb. 28. Read CFPB’s Federal Register Notice. Access Advisory Board Application. ICBA NewsWatch Today is sponsored by FIS:When it comes to serving community banks, FIS is right in your neighborhood. FIS understands that you’re more than a bank. You’re a vital resource to your community. That’s why we offer a wide range of integrated solutions that can be tailored to the unique needs of your valued customers. To stay competitive in an ever-changing banking landscape, you need to be more connected with your customers than ever before and FIS is focused on connecting the best people, processes and technology to your business to help you succeed. For more information on FIS’ complete suite of technology solutions, visit www.fisglobal.com.EconomyBeige Book Cites Economic Growth at End of 2013Economic activity expanded across most regions and sectors from late November through the end of the year, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book. Residential and commercial real estate markets generally improved, while loan volumes generally have not changed substantially. Manufacturing and energy activity continued increasing, reports on agriculture were mostly positive and prices were stable. Most districts cited higher wages and increases in hiring.EconomyProducer Prices Rise 0.4 Percent in DecemberProducer prices increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in December, the Labor Department reported. The increase in the Producer Price Index followed declines of 0.1 percent in November and 0.2 percent in October. Prices increased 1.2 percent in 2013 following a 1.4 percent advance in 2012.PollTake This Week’s Quick PollTake this week’s Quick Poll on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new mortgage rules, and view results from the previous poll on the Target payment-card breach. View the Archive.EducationWebinar Tomorrow Covers Cyber-Threat Awareness for 2014With mobile devices an integral part of daily life, cyber-attacks could increasingly take aim at community banks and their customers. An ICBA webinar scheduled for 11 a.m. (Eastern time) tomorrow will assess the latest cyber-attacks aimed at your bank. The webinar also will address the most common online threats encountered in 2013 and the top projected threats to bank customers in 2014. Register Online.Products and ServicesFree Webinar Covers Best Strategies to Reposition for Franchise GrowthBank Intelligence Solutions from Fiserv, an ICBA Preferred Service Provider, offers a webinar on Thursday, Jan. 23, titled “Repositioning for Franchise Growth in 2014—Identifying Your Best Strategies.” Following years of heavy focus on expense management and overwhelming regulatory pressures, community banks must pivot priorities to repositioning for franchise growth, which ultimately leads to revenue growth. This webinar will outline a practical methodology for identifying the specific growth strategies which will be most successful for a given institution. Register Now.Products and ServicesUpcoming M&A Webinar Covers What Buyers and Sellers Need To KnowIndustry experts have been forecasting a wave of consolidation among community banks for years, and some of that has actually come true, but not in traditional ways. An upcoming webinar will examine the current merger-and-acquisition environment, discuss the primary factors likely to spur and obstruct the near-term flow of mergers, and explore the role capital will play. Join a webinar hosted by ICBA Preferred Service Provider QwickRate on at 11 a.m. (Eastern time) Wednesday, Jan. 22, or 2 p.m. (Eastern time) Thursday, Jan. 30, as experts share how buyers and sellers can best prepare and position themselves to take advantage of the expected swell in M&A activity. Participants are eligible to receive continuing professional education credits. Register Here.