St. Charles Bank president meets with Pres. Trump, offers insigh - KMOV.com

St. Charles Bank president meets with Pres. Trump, offers insight

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President Trump met with CEOs from financial institutions across the country (Credit: President Trump / Twitter) President Trump met with CEOs from financial institutions across the country (Credit: President Trump / Twitter)
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The President and CEO of First State Bank in St. Charles has unique insight into what the Donald Trump administration may be working on after meeting with the President at the White House.

“I received a phone call the week before asking if I would attend a very important meeting about community banking with the president,” said Luanne Cundiff, President and CEO of First State Bank. “The whole purpose was to figure out what is happening with the community banking industry. They see the consolidation trends and it’s alarming, given the fact that our community banks are critical to our local economies.”

Cundiff was one of just nine CEOs of financial institutions from around the country invited to the White House for the meeting with President Trump and the U.S. Treasury secretary in March.

“To have First State Bank of St. Charles represented at the White House was an amazing experience and I was very honored to represent not only the bank, which has been in the community for 150 years, but also the entire region,” said Cundiff.

With the honor came the responsibility of presenting the concerns of the community banking industry.

“Since the implementation of Dodd-Frank in 2010, over 1,900 banks have disappeared in our country, which equates to about a quarter of the entire industry. Community banks are critical and when you have that kind of consolidation, regulatory agencies and the administration are taking notice,” said Cundiff, noting community banks account for 50 percent of small business lending in the country.

Those inside the industry say many of the closures are because the weight of the new regulations are too burdensome or expensive to keep up with. Many of the banks that did survive the changes, like First State Bank, had to change their business plans to stay afloat.

“After some rules put into effect post Dodd-Frank, we had to reevaluate our business plan. We chose to scale up our mortgage division so we could accommodate mortgage applications for customers who have banked with us for generations and that was very costly,” said Cundiff. She estimates between new systems and hiring additional staff, the investment was well into six-figures just to comply with a couple new regulations.

First State Bank is celebrating 150 years in business in May, and Cundiff says keeping up with the regulatory changes has been one of the most challenging times in the history of the bank charter. Armed with those kinds of examples and experience, Cundiff had advice for the Trump administration.

“What we are saying is let’s look at tailoring these regulations based on the size and structure of each financial institution,” said Cundiff.

She says that was well-received.

“They get it, they understand it. For them to hear it from us about what it means to be a community bank and under the regulatory pressure, was priceless. President Trump was very receptive and eager to make things happen and make things change in order to have some of these communities thrive,” said Cundiff.

While regulatory reform could take years, she is hopeful the president will keep their insight in mind when vetting candidates to replace the heads of regulatory agencies, like the FDIC, which will see term turnover within a year and a half.

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