Remarks by FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams at the 2021 Community Bankers Symposium

Source: US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation FDIC

Thank you for your participation in this symposium.  Though I wish we could have held this event in person, I am grateful to everyone who helped to organize and who participated in this event.  Especially in times like these, it is critical for us to come together to celebrate the successes of our community banks and address the challenges they face.


At the FDIC, we observe in our daily work the vital role that community banks play in their local communities and in the U.S. economy overall.  Based on the results of our Community Bank Study, we know community banks held 36 percent of the banking sector’s small business loans as of year-end 2019, despite holding only 12 percent of banking sector assets.


Along these lines, community banks held almost one-third of commercial real estate (CRE) loans in 2019, and held a whopping 70 percent of farm loans at commercial banks. We also saw that among the banks participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), community banks in particular had an outsized impact on their customers and communities.


To say that community banks are often the financial lifeblood of minority, rural, and low- and moderate-income communities is not an exaggeration.  Today, there are 608 counties in the United States where one or more community banks are the only FDIC-insured institutions physically present in the community.


Despite their notable lending strengths and presence through our country, we know that many community banks struggle to remain competitive given technological changes and the demands of increasingly tech-savvy consumers.  At the same time, many disadvantaged communities continue to struggle economically, including as a result of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic.  And despite much improvement over the past decade, we continue to have 7 million unbanked households in the United States, translating into many more individuals who do not have a basic banking relationship.