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We need regulation, but 'layering on' has 'really impeded our ability to loan,' bank CEO says

Michelle Fox



Banking regulations are hurting community banks and the small businesses they support, Sound Community Bank and Sound Financial Bancorp CEO Laurie Stewart told CNBC on Thursday.

However, she's optimistic President Donald Trump and his team will work toward easing some of those restrictions.

"The most important thing that could happen for community bankers is not to abandon current regulations. We all believe that we should be regulated," Stewart said in an interview with " Closing Bell ."

"But the layering on and the amount of regulation has really impeded our ability to loan."

Stewart was among those community bankers who met with Trump on Thursday.

She said the president was "very interested" in listening to issues that are impeding banks and their ability to lend.

"We are the primary funders for small business," Stewart said. "That ability to fund small business, provide the capital or the financing that they need, is really the backbone of our economy."

Trump has said he wants changes to the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which were enacted following the 2008 financial crisis. In February, he signed an executive order that directed the Treasury secretary to submit a report on recommended changes in 120 days.

The Independent Community Bankers of America has advocated for a tiered system of regulations that treat smaller banks differently than global financial behemoths, tailoring regulations to a bank's size, business model, complexity and risk.

Stewart is hopeful the administration understands those differences and will work toward a better solution.

"These are smart people. They understand the differences in the various business models and we can work together find the right capital levels, the right regulatory levels that address the business level."

— Reuters contributed to this report.