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News Release

New Jersey Department of
Banking and Insurance

Commissioner Ken Kobylowski

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2014

For Further Information:
Ed Rogan or Marshall McKnight (609) 292-5064

Christie Administration’s Banking Symposium Features Discussions on Cyber-Security, New Technology, Federal Regulations
and the State Banking Market

DOBI Commissioner Ken Kobylowski


MANALAPAN – New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski told a group of more than 100 bankers and financial industry representatives last week that New Jersey banks are in generally good financial health, but still face many challenges including cyber threats, keeping up with new technology and most notably, stifling federal regulation. 

“Overall, New Jersey’s State-chartered banks have weathered the global economic recession of 2008 and the overwhelming majority of them are profitable and well capitalized,” Commissioner Kobylowski said in opening remarks at the Commissioner’s 2014 Banking Symposium at the Battleground Country Club in Manalapan. 

But the Commissioner said new federal regulations brought about by the federal Dodd-Frank Act are causing hardships for banks, particularly smaller, community banks, which make up the majority of New Jersey’s banks.

“Community banks are facing challenges meeting the costs of complying with new federal regulations.  They don’t have the same resources that the larger national banks have and as a result some have been forced to merge to meet economies of scale. This is an example of the regulatory tail wagging the dog,” said Commissioner Kobylowski.

The Symposium, which this year was themed “Mitigating Risk for Success,” is held biennially by the Department to discuss national and local issues facing banks. The event is sponsored jointly by the Department and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. 

The keynote speaker, Maria Fiorini Ramirez, President and Chief Executive Officer of MFR Inc., an independent global economic and financial consulting firm, said that 2015 should be a good year for growth nationally and in New Jersey.

“2015 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for U.S. economic growth,” Ramirez said. The economist indicated that inflation is unlikely to change by much; the Federal Reserve is likely to begin to raise short term interest rates but it will be well-flagged to markets and done gradually and recent improved performance by New Jersey’s labor market and housing sectors are cause for optimism in the State.

On federal issues, Sandy Sussman, Senior Director and Associate General Counsel of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, said both parties agree that community banks need some assistance, but as yet they have not reached agreement on the specifics.

The six-hour program also included five panel discussions:

  • Mortgages in New Jersey, in which panelists discussed challenges and opportunities in the State real estate market and how New Jersey banks are seeking to expand their market participation;

  • Cyber Security, in which panelists urged bankers to look not only at their own cyber risks but also those of their customers, and to better protect their organizations by segmenting company data; minimizing computer applications on company systems; boosting assessment and training in cyber security and relegating realistic levels of resources to information technology and security; 

  • New Electronic Payment Systems, in which panelists discussed banks’ need to embrace and use the newest  technologies in payment systems to keep current customers and win over younger consumers;

  • New Jersey Investment Banking, in which panelists discussed the opportunities presented by mergers and acquisitions, and how banks must be more innovative to be successful in an environment of low interest rates; and a

  • New Jersey Banker Panel, in which topics of discussion included: the cost of regulatory compliance, the importance of developing and maintaining talented staff and the need for a consensus as to what defines a community bank.

Commissioner Kobylowski concluded his remarks by saying that the event provided a great opportunity for the Department and the banking community to communicate.

“Today’s event gives us all an opportunity to get out from behind our desks and talk face-to-face about current banking issues. Being here today and listening to you directly helps us at the Department to do our job,” Commissioner Kobylowski said.  “And I hope that meeting me and Department staff helps you get a sense of who we are, what we’re doing and how we can help you.”

2014 Commissioner's Banking Symposium   Above, Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Ken Kobylowski

At left: from left, Sandy Sussman, Senior Director, Associate General Counsel, Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Ken Kobylowski; Maria Fiorini Ramirez, President and Chief Executive Officer of MFR Inc., an independent global economic and financial consulting firm; Victor M. Richel, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Richel Family Foundation and DOBI Banking Advisory Board Member; and Patrick Mullen, Director, Division of Banking, DOBI
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