Whether banks, savings and loan associations and credit union survive the next 10 years depends on how quickly and equitably bank regulators -- the members of the Depository Institutions Deregulation Committee -- can act, the president of Women's National Bank said yesterday.
Emily H. Womach, addressing the bank's third stockholders' meeting, cited some of the developments in banking over the past year and charged the DIDC to decide soon how to handle the evolving situations before financial institutions become too scared or tired of regulations to keep trying to compete. Last year, the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act was signed to ease restrictions on the financial industry, and the DIDC was appointed to implement the act.
"When is the [DIDC] going to create . . . a new deposit instrument which would enable all depository institutions to compete more effectively with less-regulated market alternatives, including money market funds?" she appealed.
As an example, Womach suggested that a customer, not necessarily sophisticated in investments, might want to invest $1,000 but still have it available for withdrawal at any time.
"What can I tell her? Not much . . . 5 1/4 percent statement savings. Do you blame her for going across the street to a brokerage firm that offers her all this and a money market interest rate, too?" Womach asked.
She called such regulations outdated but wondered aloud about the speed, restrictions and method of phasing out Regulation Q, which limits the amount of interest banks can pay on passbook savings.
"I firmly believe that if the pessimistic projections come true of those who say that within 10 years there will only half the financial institutions that we have now, it will only be because of the lack of imagination and foresight and slowness in action of the DIDC and other federal and legislative bodies," Womach said.
"Small banks have just about the same amount of regulation and compliance and disclosures as large banks. The difference is large banks have legal departments and staff attorneys, a luxury we can't afford."
She told shareholders WNB is in a good position to adjust to the inevitable changes, predicting the "complexion of all financial institutions will become practically indistinguishable within the next five years."
Womach said that during 1980 WNB more than tripled its earnings to $176,575 ($1.77 a share) and increased its deposits 37 percent to $11.5 million. In the same period, total assets climbed 38 percent to $15.4 million.