The CRA Podcast with Linda Ezuka

The CRA Podcast with Linda Ezuka

Welcome to the CRA Podcast. I’m Linda Ezuka, your host and Founder of CRA Today and the CRA Hub. This podcast is part of my mission to transform communities through the power of economic development and the Community Reinvestment Act. For a deeper dive into community development concepts, join your CRA colleagues in the CRA Hub, a membership for bankers to connect and master the art of the CRA.


September 8, 2022 3 min
Hi, it's Linda with CRA today and the CRA Hub. I thought I'd hop back here and give you a quick tip. So many of you have asked "what exactly is BLS (hint, it is the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and how should I use it to support my CRA program?" Well this month in the CRA Hub, we're focusing on CRA exam prep. As you know, it's really important to make sure that we are crossing our T's and dotting our I...
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CRA Podcast Episode 16: Community Development Loans Demystified
with Krista Shonk, VP & Senior Counsel, Regulatory Compliance and Policy, Fair & Responsible Banking, ABA

Are you one of the 95 percent of banks that are underreporting community development loans under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)? This episode debunks the myths around how to recognize community development loans at the time of loan origination and how ...
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Are you looking to take your community development services to the next level? If so, don’t underestimate the breadth and depth of internal expertise that lies right at your fingertips. Your bank is likely full of subject-matter experts that can enhance your existing services or perhaps even build out an entirely new external partnership.

While banks typically engage mortgage officers, lenders, and retail team members with opportuni...
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There are a wealth of opportunities to serve aspiring entrepreneurs and established small businesses!

Consider the following opportunities to diversify your portfolio of existing community development services and ensure that some of them meet the “Economic Development” community development purpose.

• Contact your local CDFIs and other small business development nonprofits and inquire about committee or board openings. Some might ev...
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After collecting information about existing employee involvement through board service and volunteerism, it’s apparent you need to increase your bank’s community development services…but where do you start?

First, look at your bank’s existing community development services and consider whether you can expand or deepen that relationship by providing additional services. Is the organization looking for new board or committee members w...
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I estimate that at least 90% of banks under report their community development loans. Yes, that’s an alarming statistic, but I believe it's true. As I often say, the art of the CRA is not creating new programs, but actually unveiling what your bank is already doing to meet the needs of your community by the nature of opening your doors and deploying your core banking services.

Recently, I have been conducting many customized ba...
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A key element of your CRA program is understanding that CRA is not always about creating new opportunities, but is about finding the opportunities that already exist. To do this, you should aim to give each team at least three CRA trainings a year. This will keep team members up-to-date on any new regulations and will help keep your program top of mind. Team members are more likely to forget about CRA when they haven’t heard from y...
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“One of the things that are appealing to me about being a Community Reinvestment Officer is helping those who are underserved,” says Melvin Hugans, a Community Reinvestment Officer at Thomasville National Bank. In honor of National Financial Capability Month, where financial institutions and organizations support programs that promote economic empowerment, host Linda Ezuka interviews Melvin Hugans on his life as a CRA officer. A re...
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“11% of students from low-income households graduate college,” says Abby Coyle. As a former educator for Teachers for America, Abby realized the equity gap in the education system. To close the gap, Abby co-founded ClassEquity, an online platform aimed to help students build financial literacy.
Class equity enables students to open their own "bank account," through which they practice earning classroom dollars, saving, and ...
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April 1st marked the start of National Financial Capability Month, a month during which organizations (especially financial institutions!) across the country focus on supporting programs that expand financial literacy, economic empowerment, and access to capital and credit for all consumers.

You might be asking, “As a bank, what can we do to build financial capability in our community?”

Luckily, there are many pre-existing resource...
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For the last thirty years, Tawalla Simmons has dedicated her career to serving others through CRA-inspired programs. Today, she is the president of Inspiring You to Greatness, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to educating low to moderate-income members of the community about credit, mortgage, and money literacy.

As a previous mortgage broker, Tawalla saw firsthand the gap in education surrounding topics such as credit, job readiness, ...
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March 29, 2022 4 min
It’s time to build your 2022 CRA strategy and action plan! Here are your next steps:

Sign up to download the CRA plan resource. This list of questions will help prompt you as you start to build out your CRA plan.

To prepare your approach, start by obtaining a copy of your bank’s strategic plans for 2022, if available. If a document is not available to you, set up ...
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March 22, 2022 6 min
Build your CRA plan.

You aren’t required under the Community Reinvestment Act to build a plan, but it’s an industry best-practice and will help take your CRA program to the next level. Keep your plan simple and don’t worry about making it perfect. Your plan can be one page or it can be 20; everything is up to you.

As a general rule, you should start your plan with an overview of your CRA program. Where are you in the exam cycle? W...
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March 1, 2022 5 min
Data submitted…now what? Now that you are confident in the reliability of the data, revisit your goals for the new performance year. It’s never-ending, I know!

First, you’ll want to align your CRA strategy with the bank’s corporate strategy. As a member of the CRA team, you’re responsible for leading programs and building support in the community that helps your bank connect with potential customers. As such, key stakeholders and th...
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February 22, 2022 5 min
Why does February only have 28 days? It seems so wrong as we are up against our March 1st CRA data reporting deadline!

For those of you with CRA data reporting requirements, by now you have filed or might be working the weekend to prepare your small business, HMDA and community development loans data for FRB submission.

Since time is of the essence, I recommend you do a "hail mary" last minute data integrity review to mimic...
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February 15, 2022 7 min
As you know, time is ticking away and soon you will be faced with scrubbing your CRA data to ready your small business, HMDA and community development loans data submission. Over the next few weeks, we will cover the most common mistakes and will provide some guidance to support you on your road to CRA data integrity.

Here are four of the mistakes most commonly made by banks regarding their CRA data:

1. Reporting Non-Reportable Lo...
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February 8, 2022 7 min
Let’s refocus our time on your CRA data integrity and, for some of you, your annual CRA data submission.

For small and intermediate small banks, this means making sure your data is collected and maintained for future examiner review. For large banks, this means readying your data for FRB submission! By now, you are well on your way to testing, sampling and double checking your HMDA, small business and community development loans.

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Let's say you don't get to add to your CRA staff. What can you do to accomplish all of the work that you have before you? Today, I have three ways to support and supplement your CRA program.

Leverage Bank Trainee Programs
Chances are there is a trainee program at your bank, whether it’s for new officers of the bank, credit training, retail staff, etc. Oftentimes, these trainee programs have special projects you can vie for i...
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So, how do you actually build the culture of compliance within your bank?

When you're looking at identifying your internal stakeholders, you'll want to look at the small business department, loan ops in particular. You could look at your home mortgage department, since they also have a loan ops group that touches the data on a daily basis as they originate loans. You also have your commercial lenders, your marketing and reta...
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So, how do you best go about dividing and conquering the work of a CRA officer? Many people inherit the CRA program and still have compliance responsibilities or dabble in BSA or share the titles of CRA officer and fair lending officer. Usually if you're just a team of one or even a partial position, you really have to do it all. From CRA data collection to data integrity testing to lending performance analytics to collecting s...
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