First of all, I want to thank Hal Russell for his outstanding service to CBW as chairman over the past year. With someone who is as passionate about Community Banking as Hal, his will be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Hal.
There have been several questions that have come my way since taking the chairmanship. The one repeated most often is “What is our biggest strength, and what is our biggest weakness as community bankers?”
I can say without hesitation that our biggest strength is our fierce independence. We are committed to our communities, we are loyal to our customers, and we are proud and protective of our staff members. Without exception, community bankers are leaders and independent thinkers.
Our weakness? Our fierce independence. We focus locally, and perhaps less on industry issues that are critical to our survival. Our priorities are with taking care of our valued customers and loving what we do in serving our communities.
But why should any of us care? Let’s take a look at just some of the issues at hand:
· Growing Call Reports
· ALLL calculations on expected losses
· Rulemaking that threatens bank liquidity
· Credit Union tax exemption and continued encroachment into the banking space
· And my favorite, the loss of the exclusive use of the term of what we are and what we do…Bank, Banker and Banking, to Credit Unions
The reason that this organization was formed was to have a voice because we were not being heard. We need to stand up and speak up, or we will die of complacency.
I have made the commitment to become more active in critical industry issues and take the time to understand their importance; to become more involved in the ICBA and the Community Bankers of Washington; to invest in building relationships with our lawmakers with “nose to nose” conversations. Invest in trips to Olympia and Washington DC to demonstrate my commitment to the industry and to invest in the PAC to support lawmakers that support community banking and give them the tools to make informed decisions.
You can help by joining me for Community Bankers Day on the Hill on January 22, 2015. Register at communitybankers-wa.org.
Our neighbors need community banks. The alternative is “1-800 too big to fail and too big to care.”
Let’s get to work!