Dear Dr. CRA:
I couldn’t make it out to Seattle this year for the National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference, but my fellow CRA officers told me there were some great CRA training sessions. I want to make sure our CRA activities are top-notch this year. Can you share some of the key highlights from the conference and let me know how can I get caught up on what I missed?
Sleepless Because I Missed Seattle
This year, we had over 750 attendees from across the country who participated in discussion, learning, and networking. The conference was divided into three tracks: the CRA compliance track, which covered everything from preparing for an exam to CRA program management best practices; the “Community Development in Practice” track, which covered a wide range of hot topics from cross-sector community investing to pay for performance models; and the National Community Development Lending School, which included hands-on classes for underwriting community development loans.
The material from the CRA track will be especially beneficial for CRA officers like you. The sessions that focused on the regulations featured expert panelists from the three regulatory agencies, who provided an overview of the CRA examination process, including how to prepare for an exam and detailed overviews of the exam procedures for large, intermediate small, and small institutions. Additional sessions covered topics such as the impact of U.S. Census data on CRA examinations and best practices in CRA program management. One session that you might be interested in is “High Impact CRA Activities,” led by senior examiners from two of the regulatory agencies. What makes an activity high impact? Some of the key considerations the panelists suggested include: the number of people served; the leverage the activity creates; the activity’s sustainability; and responsiveness to community credit needs. They also provided suggestions on finding high impact CRA activities. For example, within your own bank, you could turn to:
- Commercial loan officers who originate community development loans
- Treasury manager who might know of community development investment opportunities
- Person/committee making donation decisions -- could they target high impact activities?
- Small business loan officers who might have an idea about how to serve small businesses better or who could develop an add-on product
- Board members who might know of opportunities
Additionally, you could also tap into suggestions from outside the bank by gathering information from affordable housing developers, nonprofit organizations with a community development mission, social service agencies, or a CRA officers group.
We’re sorry you couldn’t make it to Seattle in person, but there are plenty of ways to experience the event! You can watch video highlights and access all conference presentations and materials from our website. We hope to see you in 2014!