Coalition of Community Groups Opposes Banc of California Acquisition of 20 Banco Popular Branches
Advocates Urge Regulator to Hold Community Meetings to Get Input
July 14, 2014—Los Angeles: Citing concerns about potential community impacts, the California Reinvestment Coalition is urging the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to hold public hearings and extend the comment period for Banc of California’s proposed acquisition of 20 Banco Popular branches located in Southern California. The California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) is a membership organization whose mission is to advocate for fair and equal access to banking and financial services for California’s low-income communities and communities of color. CRC’s members consist of over 300 organizational members working in these communities across the state of California.
The 20 Banco Popular branches serve a largely Latino, Asian and immigrant customer base in Southern California, and advocates are concerned about the impact on these customers given Banc of California’s business model focused on a more affluent and less diverse customer base. Further fueling concerns by community groups, the bank has refused to provide the public with a CRA plan, and their application to regulators lacks any details about how Banc will serve the populations served by Banco Popular.
Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, explains: “The Latino, Asian,and immigrant communities served by Banco Popular have been historically underserved by banks. In these communities, where trust of financial institutions is already low, a public CRA plan can provide the foundation for the building of trust, partnerships, and ultimately a successful business model. To that end, we’ve asked Banc of California to release a community reinvestment plan and engage in a meaningful public review process. So far the bank has refused.”
Community leaders in Los Angeles are concerned about the differences in the two bank’s record of investment in communities.
Maria Cabildo, president of the East LA Community Corporation explains: “While Banco Popular has a strong track record of community development lending in neighborhoods of color, these are not communities that Banc of California has traditionally prioritized. Given these dynamics, we’re worried about what could happen if the OCC approves the acquisition, especially since the bank won’t provide a public community reinvestment plan.”
Hyepin Im, president and CEO of Korean Churches for Community Development comments: “The leadership at Banc of California has been very public about their ambitions to grow in California. We are urging the OCC to make sure that if the bank does grow, it also engages meaningfully with the communities it will be serving. In nine zip codes where Banco Popular branches are located, anywhere from 10-55% of the population is Asian.We urge the OCC to ensure that the financial services needs of these communities are met in an affordable,equitable, and sustainable manner.”
The coalition’s letter to the OCC outlining its concerns can be viewed here: CRC letter to OCC
The Banc of California Acquisition application can be downloaded here: Banc of California application
Background on Community Reinvestment Plans: CRA plans are detailed documents that banks can use to articulate their commitment to communities through small business lending and technical assistance,philanthropic commitments, investments in affordable housing via tax credits and loans, community development, supplier diversity programs and more.
Example of a Community Reinvestment Plan: Union Bank has a public reinvestment plan that details meaningful commitments to lend, invest, and provide financial services to low income communities. Union’s current plan expires next year, and the bank is working with CRC and other community groups to renew its commitments. In addition Union, like many other banks, meets regularly with independent organizations to monitor and adjust its efforts as needed. Click here to view Union Bank plan.