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Going international to promote American community banking

By Bill Loving

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States to represent ICBA and speak at various state conventions. I so appreciate these times because this is when I have an opportunity to talk to community bankers one-on-one about their trials and tribulations, while sharing in their joys, including what’s working and what isn’t.

Recently, I had the opportunity to represent ICBA at another event and to be with community bankers. This time, however, was quite different and rather unique. You see, I had the opportunity and privilege to represent ICBA in Tokyo, Japan, at the 24th Special Seminar on International Banking and Finance. This seminar, hosted by NIKKIN (The Japanese Financial News Co. Ltd.), focused on the theme “The New Era of ‘Glocal’ Environment—Creative Responses from Financial Institutions.” It created an ideal platform for me to talk about “The Critical Role of Community Banks in a Diversified Financial World” and how ICBA’s Go Local initiative has created value for the communities we serve and, collectively, our entire economic system.

I am more convinced than ever that
we must continue to fight for our industry
and our future.

The event was held at the historic Hotel New Otani Tokyo and commenced Nov. 13 with a reception and keynote speech by FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg. The following day I shared the podium with speakers from various countries, including the United States. This provided an opportunity to talk to bankers from Japan, Germany, Thailand and other parts of the world, as well as with industry representatives who support financial institutions globally. The bankers, in their own way, were community bankers and focused on the communities they serve. However, they were not community bankers as we know in the United States because of the differences in our banking systems. Our system is unique, different—and in a very good way. Our unique business model works and is the economic engine for many rural and metropolitan communities across America.

I guess that is why I am more convinced than ever that we must continue to fight for our industry and our future. We have made great strides in this fight, and ICBA’s influence in our country and globally is growing, as evident by our prominence in Washington, D.C., and repeated invitations to attend events such as the one in Tokyo. However, we have much more to do.

Just as steadfast in my conviction to the importance of continuing the fight is my belief that we all must be engaged. I know that many have heard or read this plea before. I also know that many make a New Year’s resolution, either in jest or with full intention of following through. As we’ve recently turned the page on a new year, I would ask that with this new year comes a renewed pledge and commitment to stand up and fight for this unique banking model we all love called community banking.

I wish each of you a very happy and prosperous new year and look forward to seeing each of you at the ICBA Community Banking Live annual convention in Hawaii.


Bill Loving is president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va.

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