Anyone who knows me knows I hate to pass up any opportunity to talk about community banks. As a community banker for more than 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand the important role local banks play throughout America. Our business depends on building and maintaining personal relationships with our customers, supporting other small businesses that in turn provide jobs and services and helping our communities. Whether it’s donating toward Little League uniforms or vans for veterans, community banks are continually involved in improving the day-to-day life of average, everyday people.
If I didn’t believe passionately in the importance of community banks, I couldn’t do my job. And if I didn’t believe just as passionately in the core principles of ICBA, I couldn’t head up the only organization that speaks exclusively for community banks.
We’ve spent a long time educating policymakers and the public on the differences between Main Street and Wall Street banks. But just for the record, here’s a brief snapshot of those core beliefs.
ICBA and its community-banker members …
- Support fair competition in financial services,
- Support the separation of companies engaging in banking activities and those engaging in commercial activities,
- Believe in a balanced financial system that does not favor any segment of the financial-services sector,
- Support the dual federal and state banking system to promote overall financial strength and diversity, and
- Oppose the concentration of economic and financial-services resources.
More than that, community banks create symbiotic relationships with the communities they serve, favor local decision-making while adhering to the highest business practices and ethical standards, and support a democratically governed association where each member bank has a voice and a vote.
That’s asking a lot of ICBA and our members, especially in these difficult economic times. But community bankers tend to be an optimistic, resilient and practical bunch, so we’ve stayed true to our mission even when it meant missing out on the outsized profits of the boom years.
Now we’re working hard to help get the country on the right track. This is the year for the debate on financial regulatory reform to take front and center. We may not know the results of Congress’s efforts until as late as next summer. In the meantime, there’s an awful lot to debate.
Because I am at the table for some of those discussions, and because I have a ringside seat for other fascinating events happening here in Washington, D.C., colleagues and friends around the country have been urging me to start a blog. It’s one way for me to provide more immediate insights about ICBA’s efforts and ideas to community bankers and the public at large—and keep you posted about what is important and emerging—as well as give you an opportunity to provide feedback and comments.