It’s always a privilege for me to engage in honest discussion and debate about the top issues facing our nation’s Main Street community banks. So a recent opportunity to have that discussion on Wall Street’s turf was a special treat.
During a recent trip from Washington to New York with ICBA’s media point person, Vice President of Media and Public Relations Aleis Stokes, I met with representatives from several news outlets on the community banking industry’s top priorities. The goal was simple: to improve our relationship with key reporters and editors—the kind who buy ink by the barrel and bandwidth by the terabyte. (I’m not quite sure what that second part means, but it sounds good.)
The discussions were a learning process for both sides. The editors and reporters got to hear the community bank side of the story on issues from too-big-to-fail to regulatory burden. Meanwhile, I got a better understanding of the kinds of things top-flight media outlets are interested in reporting. For instance, The New York Times couldn’t get enough of the community bank perspective on too-big-to-fail, particularly on the kind of sheer power we’re up against here in Washington. Meanwhile, Bloomberg View wanted to hear as much as they could on what we think about potential reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And I even had a little fun talking Fed policy with Stuart Varney on his Fox Business show.
Of course, the discussions weren’t all love-fests or walks on the beach. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t particularly care for my opinion on too-big-to-fail. And that’s fine, because I’m not wild about their views on the institutions that pose systemic threats to our financial system. Nevertheless, our meeting was mutually beneficial, and it reinforced the fundamental truth that community banks are an important asset to our financial system and that ICBA is a force to be reckoned with in the Washington Beltway.
It’s an honor for me to spread the community bank message, especially to those who might tend to lean in a different direction, whether that’s in Washington or on Wall Street. I believe in community banks and what we represent, and that’s why I’m excited about this trip and looking forward to the next one.