Report shows importance of NY’s community banks

To the editor:

The Independent Bankers Association of New York State welcomes a new study released by Gov. Cuomo and state Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky which found that community banks provide most of the loans for small businesses and small farms in New York.

We believe the study reinforces the fact that New York’s local, independent community banks know our customers, understand our markets and are strongly committed to reinvesting in their future. With locally based ownership and a commitment to our communities, we are very close to the economic pulse of New York’s cities, towns and villages.

The study notes that with less than a quarter of all bank assets in New York, community banks generate more than half of all small business loans and nearly all the small farm loans in the state. Indeed, the state’s smallest banks, those with assets under $1 billion, account for almost 28 percent of all small business loans and 43 percent of small farm loans in New York.

As the study also points out, New York’s community banks continued to lend to small businesses and homeowners throughout the financial crisis. That fact cannot be emphasized enough. Despite the crisis, our community banks grew solidly during the 2000s. Today, we have 38 percent of all loan assets. The increase is attributed largely to an increase in commercial and residential real estate lending, and the increase in real estate loan assets is attributed, in part, to community banks holding onto and servicing real estate loans, rather than merely originating them and then selling them to mortgage loan servicers.

In releasing the study, Superintendent Lawsky reiterated that community banks focus on the unique needs of their communities, build strong customer relationships which help attract local retail deposits, and take deposits from their communities and typically recycle them back into their communities in the form of loans. Gov. Cuomo noted that community banks represent a strong economic engine that drives growth in New York and described their performance as remarkable.

The Independent Bankers Association of New York State believes this study hits the nail on the head. New York’s local community banks have been, are today and will continue to be committed to building stronger economies for our localities and state, and brighter futures for our customers.

We thank the governor and superintendent for recognizing the importance of New York’s community banks and look forward to continuing to work together on issues related to community banking.

Frank J. Capaldo

President and CEO

Independent Bankers Association of New York State