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ICBA President Urges Balanced Regulation to Ensure Consumers Have Continued Access to Financial Products

Stick to Fundamentals in Lending and Offering Consumer Products

Washington, D.C. (April 16, 2008)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) President and CEO Camden Fine, speaking to an international audience in Brussels, Belgium, stressed the importance of providing clear and simple disclosures to consumers so they have the information needed to make informed financial decisions. Fine also strongly cautioned against heavy-handed regulation that could increase costs, create incomprehensible disclosures and drive providers, especially smaller companies like community banks, out of the market.

Fine spoke to bankers, regulators and top government policy makers from across Europe attending a conference entitled Optimal Consumer Information and Education in a Competitive Retail Banking Environment sponsored by the European Savings Bank Group (ESBG) and the World Savings Bank Institute (WBSI).

In his remarks, Fine warned against over-reacting to the current turmoil in the mortgage arena. "Any efforts to address current mortgage market problems should not create unnecessary restrictions on credit," he said. "We should be careful not to trim back beneficial financial products and services that are available to serve consumer needs. Like doctors, we must do no harm."

Fine pointed out the importance of financial literacy, saying, "If the average consumer understands the rules, he or she can make sure the rules are followed and that makes it more difficult for predatory actors to get away with something. We need to strike the right balance between protecting consumers by offering financial education and appropriate information while not choking off innovative banking products for consumers."

ICBA recently joined WSBI, an organization which represents savings and retail banks or associations in 92 countries. WSBI works closely with financial institutions and represents its members' interest at an international level.

Read more about ICBA at www.icba.org.