In an era of seemingly perpetual political gridlock, it’s important to pause on occasion to consider why we community bankers put so much effort into political advocacy. From our continuous and relentless regulatory relief efforts to our persistent support for fair and equitable oversight of credit unions and the Farm Credit System, community bankers certainly have a lot of irons in the fire.
That’s why, when the Washington two-step starts to make my head spin, I go back to the basics. I look to ICBA’s mission to remind myself why we do what we do. Our mission statement is short and sweet, to “create and promote an environment where community banks flourish.”
It’s a brief but powerful statement. In fact, it’s posted on the wall of our Washington office lobby, so ICBA staff can see it when they walk in every morning and walk out at night. To me, the key word is “flourish.” ICBA is here to help community banks grow, thrive, be healthy and vigorous. We combine the strength of each community bank to create an atmosphere that benefits all of them. In turn, community bankers can better serve their local customers and communities, establishing a stronger economy at the ground level.
This system goes to the heart of what we believe as an organization of community bankers. In fact, this philosophy is at the foundation of what we believe as a nation: that we are stronger from the bottom up than from the top down. That we are more powerful collectively when we are empowered individually.
At ICBA we really do have one mission: community banks. It isn’t a slogan. It’s why we’ll keep fighting for additional reforms to the Qualified Mortgage rule and why we’ll hold regulators to their promise of a streamlined call report. It’s why we are not holding anything back from a Congress that has uttered countless words of support for community banks but has yet to deliver tangible regulatory relief this year.
Yes, with so much partisan paralysis, there is a lot of unfinished business as the nights get longer and cooler here in Washington. But by maintaining our focus on a simple statement—to create and promote an environment where community banks flourish—we can clearly see how all of these moving parts fit together in a single, important mission.