From the Top

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Telling your own story really does count

By John H. Buhrmaster

During my inaugural speech at the ICBA national convention last month, I said something that seems to have struck a chord with many of you. The line I used has spurred tweets and a lot of interesting discussions with you, my fellow community bankers. And I’m so glad that it has. That was my intention after all.

I asked that you never hit the snooze button. And as your new ICBA chairman, I realize that seems like a big request. After all, we all get tired sometimes. I get it. But as a fourth-generation community banker—with a passion for this great industry and for what we do—I won’t hesitate to ask that of you again as I write my first IB column. Why?

Because we’re all a team, and we’re all in this together. I may be your humble leader over the next year—and believe me, I couldn’t be more excited about that—but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to ask for help. That’s what we do as good leaders after all, right?

As a community banker, you are a difference-maker in your community. Every one of us needs to speak up and advocate for what is right and what is important to keep community banks strong. I said it in my speech, and I’ll say it again, advocating is about people. It’s about passion. Advocacy is about telling your story. And if anyone is up for a big task it’s you!

As community bankers we know our purpose—we were called to this great industry for a reason. We have something big to protect and grow. We are a living legacy to the community banking industry. I ask that you join me this year in helping to advocate our cause for a higher purpose. I know that with your help, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.

And accomplish we must. We have a lot on our to-do list for 2014, including addressing too- big-to-fail, ensuring fair tax treatment of credit unions and fostering regulatory relief and tiered regulations for community banks.

So go ahead and make it a goal this year to contact your members of Congress, reach out to regulators to mitigate new regulatory burdens and to sign petitions on key issues. Stand up for what you believe in. Stand up and make your voice heard. Be the advocate for change. And again, never hit the snooze button with your advocacy. Your voice is what makes the difference for this industry, and actions are what make a difference in people’s lives.

I know many of you already are tireless advocates for this industry, and others are just getting started. Let’s make it a point to join together as one this year so that we can accomplish even more. After all, it’s our actions today that will affect communities and generations to come. Now that’s what I call a higher purpose—a higher calling.

So let’s turn off the alarm, get up and make today and tomorrow an even better one for community banking and the customers and communities we serve.


John H. Buhrmaster is president of 1st National Bank of Scotia, in Scotia, N.Y.