Painting Pictures

By Bill Loving

There are so many great things about the community bankers I’m lucky enough to meet during my travels as ICBA chairman. Some community bankers I’ve known for years, and others I’m just getting to know. Either way, I’m incredibly grateful for the experience of meeting them and for the honor to represent their interests in Washington during this critical time for our industry.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to testify and call on members of Congress to advance legislation as part of ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity, which would relieve community banks of unnecessary regulatory burdens that impede their ability to provide credit in their communities.

ICBA’s Plan for Prosperity is a platform of legislative recommendations that will provide meaningful relief for community banks and allow them to thrive by doing what they do best—serving and growing their communities. I told lawmakers that by rebalancing unsustainable regulatory burden, the plan would ensure that scarce capital and labor resources are used productively, not sunk into unnecessary compliance costs. And I explained how the plan would allow community banks to better focus on lending and investing that will directly improve the quality of life in our Main Street communities.

I know I’m not alone in this fight. I know all community bankers out there are passionate about getting burdensome regulations off their backs. But what can you do as a community banker to help drive this point home to lawmakers?

Simple—do something I know you do well: Share your stories.

Every day you and your bank help make your community a better place for local residents to live and work. You provide financial security and help people start and maintain small businesses that fulfill so many personal dreams and family livelihoods—not to mention create jobs and make your local economy stronger. You help local residents become homeowners, save for an education or prepare for a secure retirement. And as a good corporate citizen, your community bank helps so many individuals and organizations achieve a variety of local communitywide goals.

I hear your stories all the time when traveling across the country, and I can say without a doubt they are all incredibly powerful—you are all tremendous storytellers with important, real-world experiences to share. Why? Because you are passionate about what you do, because you are active citizens in your local community, and, mostly, because you care—about the well-being of your customers and your local economy, and that fact shines through.

As your ICBA chairman, I often get the chance to tell our industry’s collective story directly to policymakers in Washington. But your individual story, and your community bank’s story, is just as important and powerful. If we as community bankers work together by telling our own stories, we will be unbeatable—unstoppable in my mind. We just need to tell these stories—bring color to an otherwise black-and-white painting.

ICBA brings the painting supplies to you with its Be Heard advocacy website. So go ahead and tell your story, help paint the community bank picture in the beautiful array of colors it so deserves. I know it will be a beautiful, powerful and incredibly valuable piece of work to bring to the attention of policymakers in Washington. We just need to work together to finish it.