ABA Banking Journal - August 2011 - (Page 50)
Ready for your close-up?
An interview with Nessa Feddis, senior counsel, ABA Center for Regulatory Compliance
ABABJ: You cover consumer protection regulation and the payments systems, including fraud. Has your job gotten easier or harder? Nessa Feddis: It’s gotten broader. Consumer protection regs have expanded so much. There are many more of us now at ABA who stay on top of specific aspects of this area. ABABJ: Because your area affects consumers directly, you’ve done a fair number of TV interviews—some of them very tough. Are they as difficult to do as they seem? NF: I’ve gotten fairly comfortable with them, especially the live ones. Some of the interviews in which they cut and paste are nerve-wracking because what I said is not necessarily what they include. In some cases the stories are written in advance and they just want to plug in a quote. In one instance they completely ignored the facts that I showed them that proved the point I was making. At the same time, I have a better appreciation of the constraints the reporters are under. They may have one minute to cover a topic. All I ask for is a fair chance to tell our side of the story. ABABJ: Has that gotten harder to do? NF: Sensationalism sells. They’re losing viewers so they’re trying hard to attract any kind of audience that attracts advertisers, and it cycles downhill from there. ABABJ: Are some issues easier to defend than others? NF: ATM surcharge fees are easy to defend. Customers shouldn’t have to subsidize non-customers, and banks, like any business, have to recover costs. I’m a capitalist at heart. To be successful long term, revenue has to be higher than expenses. Years ago I wasn’t comfortable with some of the practices involved in overdraft protection and I didn’t defend them. Instead, we developed best practices. I’m much more comfortable with the banks’ practices now. People overdraw their accounts. It’s their choice. ABABJ: Do you have any impression of the new Consumer
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Financial Protection Bureau so far? NF: The CFPB is encountering the kind of challenges that can be expected when you’re starting a new agency—especially one that’s cannibalizing other agencies. They have hired a lot of good people, although it’s not always clear who’s doing what. They’re making strides in simplifying mortgage forms. But despite claims that they are reducing the number of agencies involved in rulemaking to one, there are multiple, competing rules coming out of different agencies, which complicates rather than simplifies compliance. ABABJ: Do you have any advice for bankers? NF: One questionable feature or practice will get all the attention. It may be legal, but if it’s not right, the hammer comes down. I try to ask bankers to think about whether they’d be comfortable defending their practices in the media; that what you do will determine what you’ll be able to do. ABABJ: You used to row competitively. Do you still? NF: Right now, rowing is too demanding time-wise. But I did it for years and loved competing as a team and being in situations where that one extra pull and effort made the difference. And once you’ve been finishing first, there ain’t no point in coming in second! Nessa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask for her at 1-800-BANKERS.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - August 2011
ABA Banking Journal - August 2011
ABA Community Banking
Pass the Aspirin
Cover Report: Branch Banking
Branch Design Portfolio
Will Local Players Win Reverse Mortgage Turf?
ABA Banking Journal - August 2011