Improving Virginia’s business-friendliness starts with helping regional banks lend

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Print this page by Bill Ginther

I’ve spent most of my life living and working in Virginia, watching our state grow and change to meet demands while maintaining our values. During my nearly 40 years as a regional banker with SunTrust, I was lucky enough to develop relationships with the very people contributing to our economy— small business owners and consumers— and help them achieve their dreams.

However, over the past few years, the Dodd-Frank Act has hindered our state’s ability to prosper by restricting critical lending to entrepreneurs, which ultimately impacts all of us who call the Old Dominion home.

While Dodd-Frank’s intent was to alleviate Wall Street bank risk, the law actually deemed all banks above $50 billion in assets as risky, subjecting them to complex, costly, uniform regulations that fail to take into account their activity or full business profile. This is especially problematic when you realize the largest banks have more than $1 trillion in assets, yet are subject to the same regulations as regional banks, with $58 billion to $350 billion in assets. For context, J.P. Morgan is 12 times the size of SunTrust.

With regional banks as a major contributor of business loans, these regulations reduce lending by as much as $20 billion over five years, plus lost manpower and time. With regionals critical to our communities, the consequences of this have affected us all. A majority of startups cannot fulfill funding needs, with only 40 percent of the requested amount typically secured.

By tailoring regulations based on a bank’s full business profile— instead of size alone — we can ensure the less risky banks have the opportunity to serve our communities to the best of their abilities.

Bill Ginther currently serves on the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors. He previously spent more than 30 years with SunTrust bank, last serving as an executive vice president.

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