Highlights and Takeaways from the Community Banking Research Conference: A Q&A with CSBS President and CEO John Ryan

The inaugural Community Banking Research Conference exceeded expectations. This is how John W. Ryan, CSBS President and CEO, described last week’s conference. The CSBS Examiner sat down with him to get his takeaways, highlights, and thoughts on the conference.

CSBS Examiner: Last week’s Community Banking Research Conference included a packed one-and-a-half days of academic research, direct feedback from bankers, and some impressive keynote speakers. What were your impressions of the conference and did it meet your expectations?

Ryan: The conferenceexceeded my expectations. It's exciting to see a disciplined academic approach brought to examining the challenges and opportunities present for community banking. For me, the research was all very relevant to thinking through some of the critical financial regulatory policy issues that have been raised by the financial crisis. I think it's started a dialogue around what sort of financial system we need to have successful state and local economies. The U.S. can't be globally competitive if the underpinnings of our economy are weakened at the local level.

CSBS Examiner: You and Julie Stackhouse, Senior Vice President and Managing Officer of Banking Supervision at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, were instrumental in organizing last week’s conference. Why was it so important to you to bring together regulators, the industry, and academics?

Ryan: Weneedindependent and unbiased research and data. It was vital that this be a research conference. But, good research and data is made better by feedback from real-world experience. The diversity of participants contributed to a dialogue that hasn't occurred around community banking and community bank regulation. This will only make for better and more meaningful research.

CSBS Examiner: What do you think were highlights of the conference?

Ryan:Having Chairman Bernanke say that this should be viewed as an "inaugural" event. I strongly believe this is the beginning of a much-needed exploration of the attributes of our banking system that best promote the success and stability of our economy.

CSBS Examiner: Do you have any key takeaways from the conference?

Ryan: That we need to focus more on what makes for a successful bank and not just what results in failure. That proximity to a borrower matters and improves lending. So much of banking policy of the last two decades has been driven by the idea that geographic diversity created greater stability and that bigger is inherently better.

CSBS Examiner: Now that the research conference is over, what is next?

Ryan: We need to assess how the research we received could better inform banking supervision and regulatory policy. We're examining where more research would benefit policymaking and we're already planning for next year.

The town hall publication, summarizing the town hall meetings held with more than 1,700 bankers in 28 states, is available here.

For more information about the conference in general, go here.