Quite Simply, Thank You


By Jack Hartings, Chairman of ICBA

As I wrap up my year as ICBA chairman and my last From the Chairman column, two words come to mind. They are, quite simply, thank you.

Thank you to all of you whom I’ve had the opportunity to meet over the past year during my travels, and thank you to those of you who—while our paths may not have crossed physically—stood together for one cause,
community banking.

I want to thank all of you for everything you did to stand up, step up and speak up for our great industry. In my convention speech last year I asked you to do those three simple things, and without any hesitation, you did each of them. Our record demonstrates it.

Thank you for diligently reaching out to your members of Congress and educating them about how issues such as regulatory burden, the Federal Reserve dividend cut and the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s proposed Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) model would impact your community bank and the communities you serve. You answered ICBA’s calls to action and activated letters through the Be Heard advocacy website. You didn’t waver, and you didn’t sit back and wait for someone else to hit send. You did it, and it’s because of you that we moved a lot of mountains during the past year.

The Fed dividend measure is a prime example. Because of ICBA’s and community bankers’ advocacy to scrap Senate-passed legislation that would have required all Fed-member banks to pay for federal highways via cuts to Fed dividend payments, lawmakers agreed to exempt community banks under $10 billion in assets—with larger banks receiving relief as well. While ICBA and community bankers pushed to completely drop the dividend cut ever since the ill-conceived proposal advanced last July, this community bank exemption will save our industry an estimated $200 million yearly. With more than 1,800 members of the Federal Reserve at less than $10 billion in assets, the benefits will be felt in communities nationwide. That’s a huge win right there.

Another great example is FASB’s CECL accounting proposal. Because we spoke out in unison, we got on FASB’s radar. Its officials didn’t have a choice but to listen. So finally, it happened. FASB agreed to host a roundtable last month as the direct result of our relentless advocacy. We got our seat at the table. We got our chance to be heard.

And being heard is what it’s all about. It’s the first step to constructive dialogue between us and key stakeholders. It’s about educating and understanding. It’s about putting others in our shoes. Because you live it and believe in it, you can best help them do just that.

It’s this dedication and passion for our industry, your relentless dedication to your customers and communities and how you run your bank that makes me so proud to be a community banker. It’s been such a privilege to represent you and our industry over the past year. I thank you for the opportunity and look forward to continue to work alongside each and every one of you in the years to come as a proud community banker.

Jack Hartings is president and CEO of The People’s Bank Co. in Coldwater, Ohio.