Fine Points

Let’s see it through

By Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of ICBA

Now is a great time to be a community banker. Spring brought with it a powerful and successful ICBA Community Banking LIVE national convention. And as we look ahead to the ICBA Capital Summit kicking off this month in the nation’s capital, our industry is well positioned to achieve some historic policy victories in Washington.

We have fought long and hard for tiered, proportional regulation for community banks. We have battled for the kind of substantial relief that will truly energize our local economies, and now we’re on the verge of getting it. But before we get carried away, let’s remember that we have been fighting for meaningful relief for years—and we’re not there yet.

We have an excellent opportunity before us, and we cannot afford to waste it.

Nothing in Washington is ever easy. Seeing significant reforms through to the president’s desk is always hard work, no matter who is in charge. Now is the time for community bankers to rededicate ourselves to the job at hand. Now is our chance to dig deep, stay active and see regulatory relief all the way through to the end.

After all, we have gotten this far only through the hard work of those who came before us. Our mission goes back to ICBA’s formative day.

May 9, 1930. Amid a financial panic, 28 community bankers gathered to discuss what to do about two large bank holding companies intent on vacuuming up every local bank in the Ninth Federal Reserve District. Rather than sell out, these independent bankers passed a hat for donations, used their collective strength to resist, and founded what is now ICBA.

Those individuals stood up for our industry’s principles of relationship banking and our nation’s ideals of independence and localized service. What brought them together then is the same thing that binds us together today.

Our strength still comes from collective action, our actions remain guided by principle, and our achievements are due to nothing less than hard work.

So in this season of rising temperatures and sunlit evenings, we cannot afford to sit back and rest on our laurels. We have far too many issues up in the air: regulatory relief, tax reform, credit union and Farm Credit System mission creep, and more. As optimistic as we might feel about the prospects of meaningful reform, we must work all the more diligently to finish the job. Now is the time to meet with lawmakers face to face at the ICBA Capital Summit, to sign ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity petition on behalf of meaningful reform, and to ensure we are fully engaged on our advocacy goals, from the C-suite to the front line.

We cannot allow ourselves to be drowned out amid the clamor of competing interests in Washington. We have an excellent opportunity before us, and we cannot afford to waste it. We have been at it too long to settle for anything less than our absolute best.

So let’s continue to speak out in solidarity. Let’s continue to fight on behalf of our independent voice. Let’s keep at it until the job is done. We owe it to ourselves, to our industry, to our local communities and to all those who came before us to see this thing through all the way to the end.

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