Toolkit Offers Online Resources for CRA Officers
In 2007, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) celebrated three decades of increasing access to credit and capital for low- and moderate-income areas. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) calculates that financial institutions have made CRA-related commitments of more than $4.6 trillion in loans and investments to underserved neighborhoods since the CRA's enactment in 1977.
As part of the ongoing training for financial institutions, the federal regulators—Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas—collaborated on a series of three CRA officer workshops across Texas in late 2007. The workshops were popular, registering over 150 CRA officers from across the country.
When the evaluations were reviewed, one topic that was especially well-received and, according to attendees, merited more public attention was the CRA Toolkit. This interactive module helps CRA officers develop a CRA strategy for their bank or thrift. The following resources are some of the toolkit's more popular websites, which can assist CRA officers as they prepare for the CRA exam.
- The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) site is the most comprehensive site for CRA-related issues. FFIEC is the interagency body empowered to prescribe uniform principles, standards and report forms for the federal examination of financial institutions. It also makes recommendations to promote consistency in the supervision of financial institutions. The uniform exam procedures that examiners follow can be found at the following links:
The FFIEC site contains median family incomes for your selected MSA or county . Additionally, locations are geo-coded to determine whether an address lies in a low- or moderate-income census tract. The FFIEC site also maintains a current list of distressed and underserved geographies , which can assist a CRA officer in determining if a loan, investment or service is CRA-eligible under the new CRA rule changes. Also included is the Interagency CRA Questions and Answers , which provides informal staff guidance regarding community reinvestment. There is also a proposed revision in the Federal Register that includes adding nine questions and answers as well as substantive and technical revisions to the existing answers.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco provides examples of the worksheets examiners use to determine if an activity will qualify as a community development loan or a community development investment.
- The FDIC maintains Market Share Reports , which are often used to develop a bank's performance context, determine peers in the market, or weigh the level of investment or loans when compared with other banks. The FDIC also maintains comprehensive financial and demographic data for every FDIC-insured institution, including the most recent quarterly financial statements, with performance and condition ratios. These data help examiners determine current market conditions, which impact how a bank or thrift will be evaluated.
- American Fact Finder by the U.S. Census Bureau can give CRA officers a basic framework of the community's demographics and community service needs. This includes social, housing and economic characteristics.
- A Guide to CRA Data Collection and Reporting is also used by examiners for data collection, maintenance and reporting. This guide can be used as a resource when collecting and maintaining data, creating a submission log and posting lending data in the CRA public file.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has two helpful publications that can further assist CRA officers. The first is the CRA Loan Data Collection Grid , which identifies CRA loan data reporting categories. The second is the Banker's Quick Reference Guide to CRA , an easy-to-use guide to the examination procedures.
- The following four sites enable users to find current and past CRA ratings and performance evaluations for specific institutions that have been examined.
- Finding pertinent information on local nonprofits can be daunting. GuideStar searches by community and service area. It provides financial data, the organization's mission, historic filings and employer identification numbers.
- The CRA manual published by NCRC is a how-to book for community organizations wishing to become engaged in and understand the CRA process.
- Investments in Minority Banks may qualify for CRA. A list of minority institutions can be found at this Federal Reserve Board site.
- If you are looking for a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in your area, the CDFI Fund provides you with search capabilities.
These are just some of the online resources that can be useful for engaging in CRA activities.