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Blog > Building Compliance Strategy for Community Banks

Building Compliance Strategy for Community Banks

Devi Narayanan
March 27, 2024
4 minutes

Today, Banks and Financial Institutes face a wide array of compliance challenges. The industry’s constant evolution, along with its breadth and complexity, creates a challenging regulatory environment. Additionally, high-profile compliance failures and an increased emphasis on data protection have led federal and state regulatory agencies, investors, and the general public to scrutinize institutions’ security controls,…

Today, Banks and Financial Institutes face a wide array of compliance challenges. The industry’s constant evolution, along with its breadth and complexity, creates a challenging regulatory environment. Additionally, high-profile compliance failures and an increased emphasis on data protection have led federal and state regulatory agencies, investors, and the general public to scrutinize institutions’ security controls, customer practices, and regulatory compliance like never before.

Compliance failures can result in severe litigation, financial penalties, regulatory constraints, and reputational damage, significantly impacting Community Banks on operational, management, and business fronts. Therefore, a comprehensive Compliance Management plan is essential to assist Community Banks in achieving compliance with regulatory requirements and staying up-to-date.

This article focuses on various compliance requirements for Community Banking and strategies to streamline the compliance process. But first, let’s understand what a Community Bank is, whats the difference between a community bank and a normal bank and its compliance requirements.

What is a Community Bank?

A Community Bank is a locally operated financial institution primarily focused on assisting small and mid-sized businesses financially. The primary distinction between a normal bank and a community bank lies in their operational scope and approach. Community banks prioritize serving specific local communities with personalized services and community involvement, fostering strong relationships. In contrast, normal banks operate on a larger scale, often with standardized services and a broader market reach.The coomunity banks provide traditional banking services to meet the needs of the local community and are integral parts of the US Banking and Financial Systems.

Role of a Community Bank in the US

The US Banking System comprises large and small banks closely intertwined with local communities. While Community Banks represent a significant portion of banks in the US, they contribute less to total banking activity. However, they remain essential in rural communities and some parts of the country, providing substantial banking services and relationship-based banking services to small businesses, individuals, and low-income depositors. Community banks also play a vital role in lending money to small-time businesses.Compliance requirements for community banks often emphasize local regulations, community engagement, and personalized service adherence, reflecting their focus on serving specific communities. In contrast, normal banks face broader regulatory frameworks, focusing on standardized practices, risk management, and often more extensive reporting obligations due to their larger scale and diverse customer base.

Compliance Challenges Faced by Community Banks

Compliance challenges require community banks to manage regulatory obligations with their localized service approach while ensuring operational efficiency and financial sustainability.

Increased Regulatory Challenges

Community Banks bear a significant burden of Regulatory and Compliance mandates, which can inhibit lending ability and increase costs. Harsh financial penalties for non-compliance add to the pressure, making it challenging for local Community Banks to keep up with evolving Compliance requirements and the security landscape.

Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations

BSA and AML regulations require financial institutions, including community banks, to implement robust policies and procedures to detect and prevent money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activities.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Regulations

The CFPB oversees consumer financial products and services, enforcing regulations such as the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and Fair Lending laws. These regulations aim to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.

Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)

CRA requires banks to meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, particularly low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Community banks must demonstrate their commitment to serving these communities through lending, investment, and service activities.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Regulations

The FDIC regulates and insures deposits in banks and thrifts. Community banks must comply with FDIC regulations related to deposit insurance coverage, capital requirements, liquidity, and risk management.

Federal Reserve Regulations

The Federal Reserve sets regulations governing various aspects of banking operations, including monetary policy, bank holding companies, and supervision and regulation of state member banks. Community banks may be subject to specific regulations based on their membership status with the Federal Reserve System.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

GLBA requires financial institutions to protect the privacy and security of consumers’ personal financial information. Community banks must develop and maintain comprehensive information security programs to safeguard customer data.

Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)

FHA and ECOA prohibit discrimination in housing and lending based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. Community banks must ensure fair lending practices and compliance with these laws.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS sets security standards for protecting cardholder data in payment transactions. Community banks that process credit and debit card payments must comply with PCI DSS requirements to prevent data breaches and protect sensitive cardholder information.

State Banking Regulations

Community banks are subject to state banking regulations in addition to federal regulations. State regulators oversee aspects such as licensing, examinations, and consumer protection within their respective jurisdictions.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Regulations

OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals. Community banks must screen transactions and comply with OFAC regulations to prevent prohibited dealings with sanctioned individuals, entities, or countries.

These are some of the regulatory requirements for community. In addition, there are many local and federal commpliance requirements

Cybersecurity Challenges

The Banking Industry faces significant dilemmas regarding the privacy and security of business-critical information and infrastructure. Evolving sophisticated threats, complex IT environments, and resource constraints contribute to the erosion of community banks’ ability to protect consumer information, confidential data, and computing infrastructure. To address these challenges, community banks must invest in the latest security solutions and deploy advanced technology.

Latest Technology

Community Banks continually face pressure to adapt to evolving technology in the Banking Industry while implementing necessary security measures to strengthen infrastructure security. New technology platforms, such as Cloud Computing, present challenges in terms of system implementation, operations, and pricing models.

Other Compliance Requirements for Community Banking

Banks are expected to secure their systems, operations, and have security controls in place to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance with industry standards. Community banks, as highly regulated entities, face scrutiny from multiple governing bodies for various Compliance and Regulatory Standards. Common compliance requirements include local and state regulatory standards,  SOC1 Audits & Attestation, and SOC2 Audit & Attestation. These requirements ensure the privacy, security, and integrity of consumer data and systems.

Managing Compliance

Complying with a growing list of Regulatory and Operational Compliance requirements requires professional expertise and time. The compliance team is essential to help institutions stay updated with constantly evolving regulations. The compliance team, along with the board, should try to create a culture of compliance – take employees into confidence, build strong policies and controls, bring in oversight, encourage compliance collaboration and incident reporting programs, and truly build a holistic compliance culture.

Building Compliance Program with Comply

VComply helps you manage multi-compliance frameworks, build and implement compliance programs, automate controls, manage compliance risks, conduct internal audits, assess gaps, and automate incident and issue management. Unlike other legacy compliance software, VComply provides a simple UI that helps you to create and measure compliance programs. VComply powers many financial organizations to manage compliance effortlessly.

Ready to ditch compliance headaches? Sign up for a free demo to see VComply in action. Automating compliance processes and ehance community banks productivity and risk management. Contact us today to learn more!