Fine Points

CamdenFine-FP_224

Making a Difference

By Camden Fine, President and CEO of ICBA

So what’s your job description? As a Main Street community banker, it’s probably hard to fully pin down. I’ll bet the catch-all, anything-goes phrase “and other duties as required” best covers a considerable amount of your responsibilities.

Certainly providing practical financial expertise and resources are fundamental to what you do, but those are merely the most clearly identifiable dimensions of your job. Part trusted financial confidants, part problem fixers and part catalysts of opportunity, community bankers are professional jacks of all trades. So much of what you do involves tackling whatever needs doing and getting done—whether at your bank, for your customers or throughout your community.

Whether leading a charity board or an economic development commission, give countless hours of your time and talents with the only objective of making individual lives and whole communities better. In short, you do more, give more—far beyond the scope and pay scale of your formal job description. After all, your position as a community banker is as much of a special calling as a profession.

One primary but often unspoken aspect of being a community banker is serving as a local leader. Through so many incalculable but indispensible ways, you bring people throughout your community together to accomplish worthy and important things. Without your leadership, along with your financial products, services and expertise, Main Street America could never be either as prosperous or as worthwhile places to live and work. Along with your professional integrity, your leadership is what makes you special and important—and it’s something that cannot be automated or commoditized. That’s important to remember in a world sometimes overly driven and bedazzled by mere bits and bytes.

In much the same way, ICBA could never be as successful or effective without the leadership of real-world community bankers like you. Far more than any national financial trade association, ICBA operates not only by and for all of its members but also with its members. As a democratically governed grassroots organization, ICBA relies on the leadership of community bankers—and only community bankers—stepping forward to determine our association’s policies, priorities and programs. You provide the essential elements—of firsthand experience, knowledge and leadership—that make your national association so uniquely purposeful and effective. Together we have accomplished truly amazing things.

This summer the ICBA family celebrated the life and mourned the deep loss of Maryland community banker Mike Menzies, who passed away at 67 after a tough but courageous fight with cancer. Without overstatement, Menzies was an amazing community banker, an extraordinarily talented and generous leader, and a remarkable human being. For nearly 25 years, he freely, tirelessly and humbly applied his broad knowledge and sharp intellect not only for the communities he served in Maryland but also for ICBA and our industry.

As ICBA’s 2009-2010 chairman, Menzies was known as one of ICBA’s “war chairmen”—along with Texas community banker Cynthia Blankenship and Michigan community banker Jim MacPhee—who provided steady, wise and reassuring leadership that shepherded the association through the darkest and most uncertain days of the Wall Street financial crisis. In addition to shouldering other intensive responsibilities as ICBA chairman during 2009-2010 (while continuing to oversee a vigorous community bank back home), he testified nine times before Congress on highly consequential and complex issues. He spoke eloquently and with authority on issues and proposals ranging from entirely new financial systemic-risk regulations, federal deposit insurance reforms and national economic stimulus measures. His performance and personal sacrifices as ICBA chairman made a big difference—not only for the nation’s community banks but also for everyday individuals, families and small businesses throughout Main Street America.

Upholding and living out the character of the quintessential community banker, Menzies always quietly and without any self-aggrandizement took to heart the special integrity and commitment to public service his profession demanded. He often talked about the personal accountability involved with serving as a community banker. “You can’t hide,” he would say, from your actions or decisions.

Mike Menzies
Mike Menzies

Mike Menzies was one of the many dedicated volunteer leaders that ICBA has been blessed with having over the years. Since its founding by 13 community bankers determined to fight destructive financial overconcentration during the Great Depression, ICBA has often had just the right bankers to help lead the association through its challenges and accomplishments. In my own 30-year personal memory and experience, community bankers who stand out as pivotal ICBA leaders include Chuck Doyle of Texas, who helped modernize ICBA’s operations and image during the 1980s, and Rusty Cloutier of Louisiana and Dale Leighty of Colorado, who managed the leadership transition that brought me on board as ICBA’s president and CEO a decade ago.

Of course, over the decades hundreds of community bankers have served ICBA in many ways, whether on committees or by mobilizing over advocacy calls to action at the most critical times. Every community bank and community banker owes an incalculable debt of gratitude to ICBA’s past leaders. But just like you are a leader in your own community, you and your colleagues need to become active participants and leaders in your national trade association. Your talents and perspectives are the essential ingredient to getting important things done with ICBA—for your bank, your customers and communities, and our industry.

So please make participation in ICBA part of your informal job description—it’s a natural extension of what you already do. Together we can continue to do amazing things. With your help, we can do more and make a difference. You know it’s true—you already do it every day on Main Street. Let’s do it together, working nationwide through ICBA.


Reach Camden R. Fine at cam.fine@icba.org.