CRA Business Development Forums: Linking Compliance with Growth Objectives
November 2014 - One of the ways FHLBank Atlanta is working to help shareholders maximize the value of the cooperative is through educational forums that offer best practices on using the Bank’s products and services to achieve Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and business development objectives. In 2014, the Bank held CRA Business Development forums in Miami, Baltimore, and Birmingham to reach shareholders across the district. Shareholders heard success stories from other financial institutions about how they are leveraging FHLBank Atlanta's products and services to achieve both their CRA and business development objectives. Shareholders also heard from CRA experts with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Richmond, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regarding the best ways to design a successful CRA business development strategy.
If you missed the CRA Business Development Forum in your region, read the highlights:
Session 1: Using FHLBank Atlanta Products to Further Your CRA Business Development Objectives
Session 1 of the CRA Business Development Forums walked shareholders through how to leverage FHLBank Atlanta’s homeownership and rental products to achieve their lending and services objectives in their CRA exam.
Arthur Fleming, the Bank’s Senior Vice President and Director of Community Investment Services, and ShaDonte Dozier, Community Investment Business Development Manager, highlighted the Bank’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP) suite (e.g., AHP Competitive, First-time Homebuyer Product, Veterans Rehabilitation Product, Foreclosure Recovery Product, and Community Partners Products) as tools for shareholders to connect with community members in a way that builds valuable business relationships.
Fleming also highlighted two new services the Bank offers shareholders: CRA Consultations and a customized CRA Success Roadmap.
A one-on-one, personalized session with a shareholder devoted to brainstorming and collaborating on ways shareholders can advance their CRA business development opportunities.
CRA Success Roadmap:
The CRA Success Roadmap is the work product that follows a shareholder’s CRA consultation. The roadmap is organized to reflect the likely CRA examination protocol and includes specific strategies and tactics that would better position a shareholder for positive CRA and business development outcomes.
Session 2: CRA Business Development Best Practices: Shareholder Panel
Following the end of Session 1, the Forum’s second session began with a panel of shareholders who shared best practices for leveraging the Bank’s products to achieve their CRA objectives and expand their business.
Paul Carrothers, Senior Vice President of Regional Community Affairs at Regions Bank, provided a large regional bank perspective on the impact of FHLBank Atlanta’s AHP. For example, the South Hills affordable housing development in Pell City, Alabama, is a 56-unit new construction for low and very low-income residents. This development leveraged AHP funds, Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity, and other funding sources and helped Regions develop housing that is responsive to the needs of this community for CRA consideration.
Alan Easterwood, Vice President, Mortgage Loan Originator, for Cheaha Bank, encouraged small financial institutions to take advantage of good products that provide opportunities to reinvest in their communities. Easterwood highlighted a rehab project that Cheaha Bank completed with FHLBank Atlanta funding. The repairs made a homeowner’s bathroom functional, repaired a leaking roof, and installed heating and air conditioning. Easterwood shared with the audience that the AHP has not only provided him the opportunity to reach his community but also increased his business and bottom line.
Jennifer McDonald, Vice President, Community Development Group at First Tuskegee Bank, described how her bank leveraged FHLBank Atlanta’s AHP products to tell its story in the community and build the bank’s brand.
Jessica Farr, a Manager of Examinations at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, emphasized the good practice that First Tuskegee follows in being strategic about leveraging the Bank’s AHP products as it tells its CRA story.
Session 3: Designing Your CRA Compliance Strategy: Regulator Panel
Regulators representing the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) talked to shareholders about keys for designing a successful CRA business development strategy.
Advice from the Experts:
1. Tell Your Bank’s CRA Story
Jessica Farr encouraged shareholders to “go beyond their spreadsheets” and talk to their examiners about what their bank is achieving in the community.
2. Review CRA Performance Evaluations
Farr also emphasized that CRA performance evaluations are a publicly available resource for banks to see what their competitors are doing.
3. Improve Communication with Examiners
John Olsen, Community Affairs at the FDIC, highlighted the importance of making sure examiners are aware of details that may not seem important, but can bump up a rating. Olsen offered the example of letting examiners know how many businesses a bank has been able to assist.
4. A Strong CRA Strategy Requires Planning
Scarlett Duplechain, District Community Affairs Officer at the OCC, told shareholders that she recommends integrating a CRA plan into a bank’s overall business plan. In her role, Duplechain works with banks on meeting their CRA needs.
For more information on how your institution can use the Bank’s products and services to achieve its business development and CRA goals, call the Community Investment Services department at 1.800.536.9650, option 3, option 1, option 3.
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta is not a registered investment advisor. Nothing herein is an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or derivative products. You should consult your own legal, financial, and accounting advisors before entering into any transaction.