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Stressed-Out Bankers Wrestle with Relentless Regulation

Regulatory changes are having a major impact on the banking industry.

"Whether you are a domestic bank or a foreign bank, life is tough," said Ernie Patrikis, a partner at White & Case. "I just wish they’d stop promulgating regulations so we could let this work its way through the system to see what happens. It’s just getting so complex."

Failure to comply with new rules can cause banks to lose clients. While the regulators provide for periods of transition, things are not that simple.

"If 12% capital adequacy is good in three years, I want to do business with the first bank that gets there, not the last bank," said Patrikis.

As a result, senior executives at financial institutions are facing significant pressure.

"I think the most dangerous position in a commercial bank today is compliance officer. You don't get praised when everything goes well, and you get blamed when it goes wrong," said Patrikis, a former general counsel at the New York Fed.