A group of community bankers from the Independent Community Bankers of America met last week with the Financial Accounting Standards Board to discuss their concerns with FASB’s upcoming impairment standard on credit losses.
The three community bankers—Greg Ohlendorf, president and CEO of First Community Bank and Trust in Beecher, Ill.; Lucas White, vice president and director of The Fountain Trust Co. in Covington, Ind.; and Tim Zimmerman, president and CEO of Standard Bank in Monroeville, Pa.—warned that FASB’s Current Expected Credit Loss, or CECL, proposal could irreversibly damage the ability of community banks to continue meeting the needs of local customers and communities, according to the ICBA. Michael Gullette, vice president of accounting and financial management at the American Bankers Association, also participated in the roundtable meeting along with representatives of three other banks, according to the ABA. The CECL proposal would be part of the financial instruments impairment standard
Last Thursday’s roundtable follows ICBA’s request for a meeting between community bankers and the full FASB board on the CECL model, which would force community banks to record a provision for credit losses once they issue a loan. Regulators have said the plan would cause a projected 30 to 50 percent hike in loan-loss reserves, according to the ICBA.
“This dangerous proposal would reduce community bank lending, harm local economies, and cost thousands of jobs in communities nationwide,” Ohlendorf, White and Zimmerman said in a joint statement last Thursday before the FASB board. “ICBA and the nation’s community bankers are calling on FASB to pause the standard-setting process until these concerns have been fully explored and remedied. As 62 members of Congress wrote in a bipartisan letter to FASB just this week, FASB’s complex accounting proposal would radically change community bank accounting methods, sharply increasing the cost of lending and constricting the flow of credit to local communities.”
FASB chairman Russ Golden indicated the board would take into consideration the points raised at the meeting. “Today’s meeting featured insightful discussion that resulted in what we believe is an improved understanding of the application of the CECL model,” he said in a statement. “It reinforces the importance of our ongoing dialogue with stakeholders. In the coming weeks, the FASB will meet publicly to continue to discuss the Impairment standard. As a part of the FASB’s process, the board will consider the comments of the participants seeking additional re-exposure or other forms of public comment.”
The ICBA pointed to a recent letter from 62 members of Congress from both parties asking several questions of FASB. Ohlendorf, White and Zimmerman posed similar questions to FASB in person at the meeting last week, including whether the accounting standards-setting organization has weighed the impact of its plan on lower-income borrowers and small businesses and whether it has considered tiered implementation based on the size and risk profile of affected institutions.
In the letter, the lawmakers also asked whether FASB has considered an alternative model based on historical losses, an approach that ICBA has advocated and which nearly 5,000 community bankers have supported in an ICBA petition.
FASB said it was considering the letter. “The FASB is reviewing the letter submitted by members of Congress about our upcoming standard on accounting for credit losses,” said a statement forwarded by a FASB spokesperson. “As with all stakeholder feedback, we will carefully consider the input we receive from Congress on the upcoming standard.”