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By Linda Ezuka | February 24, 2021 | 3 Minute Read

Why You Should Conduct CRA Self-Assessments

CRA Officer conducting CRA self-assessment
Are you crystal clear on your bank’s performance? Do key stakeholders know how they fit into the CRA function of the bank? Do you know everything you need to know for your upcoming CRA exam? 

These are the questions that all CRA Officers need to know the answers to, and preparing a CRA self-assessment is a pathway to this end. What if you don’t have a self-assessment? What if you have a copy of a self-assessment from your predecessor that hasn’t been dusted off in a while?
Although preparing a self-assessment is not a technical requirement of the CRA, I wouldn’t run a CRA program without one. The work you put into a self-assessment will pay off in spades.
There are three general types of self-assessments I tend to see at banks. I see either a “lite” version that gets straight to the point, a “targeted” version focusing on an in-depth key performance measure, or a “comprehensive” analysis of a bank’s CRA program. There is no right or wrong type of CRA self-assessment; it all depends on bank strategy, CRA leadership cycle, and program maturity.
Wherever you are in your CRA journey, now is the time to take the next step with your CRA self-assessment. If you don’t have one, you might consider drafting a high-level “lite” version in 2-3 pages. If you know your bank needs to focus on a core performance issue before your next exam, you might want to create a “targeted” self-assessment to shore up your performance context and understand your bank’s next steps. You might be ready to draft a comprehensive self-assessment as an exam prep exercise to ensure you and your bank are ready to defend your CRA program and to ensure it’s set up for success when examiners “arrive” at your doorstep. 

The secret to a good CRA self-assessment is positioning your performance in context with data elements and having a narrative to tell your CRA story. This is where having software, like Kadince, is so valuable. Having all of your community development performance organized, geocoded, and categorized is half the battle. Make sure you take your core data and then weave in local statistics and benchmarks that help make your case. Also, try to highlight bank initiatives and efforts that you deployed to shore up performance gaps.
Preparing a self-assessment takes time, but the time invested yields a healthy return. You can also use your CRA self-assessment document to educate your internal key stakeholders and continue building a culture of compliance within your bank. 

If you don’t have a self-assessment yet, don’t worry, we have you covered. Check out this blog post on where to start when creating a self-assessment. 
And if you want to learn more about community development loans (including what they are and how to identify them), download this free PDF. These checklists will help you determine whether your loans count as community development loans or not (which, let’s face it, is difficult to know).

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Linda Ezuka | Owner, CRA Today

With over 30 years of community development experience, with an emphasis in CRA, compliance, training, community development lending, and CDFI initiatives, Linda works with financial institutions to provide comprehensive CRA training, up-to-date resources, and proven strategies to remain compliant. She helps CRA professionals master the art of the CRA and transform communities through the power of economic development. To learn more about Linda & CRA Today, visit her website.

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