By Bill Loving
In high school, I had a part-time job, just like so many other young people. But instead of working at the local hardware store or as a busboy at the mom-and-pop diner down on Main Street, I was a janitor at Cardinal State Bank in Beckley, W.Va.
Little did I know that this first humble job would lead me to my life’s passion and calling—community banking.
Thanks to the many mentors I’ve had over my career, I have learned many invaluable lessons about lending, operations and, most importantly, customer service—a cornerstone of the community bank business model. I worked hard and worked my way up the ranks, and in doing so developed a love of this great industry. That love has led me to where I am today as your ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank.
When I spoke last month before the ICBA National Convention and Techworld, I said that “excitement was in the house,” and that excitement hasn’t faded. Even from my desk here in Franklin, W.Va., I sense tremendous excitement from community bankers across the nation—excitement about our past and excitement about our future. It can be contagious. It is contagious. Can you feel it?
As community bankers, we are much like entrepreneurs. Community banks are, after all, small businesses themselves. And like small businesses and the entrepreneurs who grow them, we acknowledge there will be change. We look at the change, respond to it and move forward. With the winds of change facing community banks—including undue regulatory burden, proposed Basel III capital requirements and new mortgage-lending rules—community bankers need to be nimble and seek to build excitement in their communities, while adapting to a challenging world and advocating in Washington.
The good news is we are not alone in this fight. That’s where your ICBA membership pays dividends. My experience has been that the association’s staff members are always there to help and are simply a call away. I would encourage you to take advantage of what the association has to offer—now more than ever. Help us spread the excitement by helping us tell our industry’s story to others. It will make change just a little bit easier knowing that we’re all in this together—one phone call, comment letter, testimony or campaign at a time.
So get out there and have your voice heard. Imagine the groundswell as community bankers across the nation intensify and strengthen their voices. Suddenly, Wall Street may not be so loud, and your voice as a community banker will continue to be heard loud and clear, thanks to you and to ICBA.
So don’t be shy—stare the future in eye and embrace the excitement and opportunity now. Change may show us a challenging road, but we community bankers are up to the task. Together, we can make a difference and can make the future a better place for Main Street, one community banker voice at a time.