Maryland Savings and Loan League members need a voice in Annapolis, president Charles H. Kresslein Jr. told the group at its annual convention here.
"It is not enough just to make our views known to the government in Annapolis once every five years," he said, vowing that MSLL's No. 1 priority this year will be formation of a political action committee.
In his state-of-the-league address, Kresslein said S&Ls face difficult times politically and economically this year. Like S&Ls across the nation, Maryland's associations were hard hit last month by outflowing deposits. Although he expressed a certain degree of pessimism about the rest of the year, Kresslein said, "We've always been able to weather the storm. Profits won't be off enough (during a recession) to (affect) the viability of Maryland associations."
The MSLL will actively oppose the Federal Home Loan Bank Board's proposed interstate branching of federal savings and loans, Kresslein said. The smaller Maryland associations fear competition from the larger District thrifts, which sought the FHLBB proposal.
He also urged state chartered thrifts - which make up the majority of Maryland's S&Ls although they have about half the assets of federal S&Ls - to begin offering variable rate mortgages (VRM).
At the time the FHLBB approved VRMs for sales by federal S&Ls in California this spring, the agency pledged it would permit federal S&Ls in other states to offer VRMs if compeition from the state chartered thrifts were serious.
Other Maryland thrift executives, however, said the prospect of VRMs was slight - given economic conditions (an S&L can raise the rates as the cost of money goes up but in a period of declining interest rates they are lowered).
Kresslein and Dennis B. Berlin, chairman of the league's board, praised outgoing FHLBB Chairman Robert McKinney for aggressiveness and innovation.
"He showed that an industry insider can regulate the thrifts" they said. McKinney's appointment had been greeted originally with skepticism because he was an insider.
But the executives cautioned that thrifts should not be pushed too fast into innovations like nationwide checking-with-interest accounts, advocated by McKinney. The also expressed reservations about the chairman leaving office just after he proposed one of the most potentially farreaching changes in policy, that of permitting interstate branching of S&Ls in the Washington area and perhaps later on a nationwide basis.
On the subject of mortgage revenue bonds, which the administration opposes, the Maryland league joins many other thrifts and state and local officials in believing that an outright ban on tax exempt bonds to finance single-family housing is too drastic. The league would rather see limitations placed on participant's income levels.
As an aid to capital formation at a time of declining profits, Kresslein predicted a large number of conversions of mutual S&Ls to stock companies in the future. Of the 204 thrifts in Maryland, only 14 are now stock companies. This is primarily because of the scandal that enveloped stock companies in Maryland about 20 years ago. Legislation permitting the conversions will take effect Jan. 1, 1980.
What to do about red ink? Sam A. Harris, partner in the national accounting firm Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co. predicted intensified competition from banks, credit unions, and even retailers offering consumer services.
"The thought of 3,000 Sears & Roebuck branches is what I worry about most," he said. Harris urged S&Ls to give serious thought to issuing commercial paper, pushing for alternative mortgage instruments, participating in resale of mortgages to institutional investors through pools formed by private mortgage companies, and financing mobile homes.