Seizing Opportunity


By Rebeca Romero Rainey, Chairman of ICBA

Carpe diem! Seize the day! Take the bull by the horns!

These are all things that we say from time to time, and when we do it’s meant to inspire, motivate and encourage. As community bankers, we often find ourselves using these phrases to bring out the best in others, whether it be our staff, our customers or our fellow community leaders.

But is it time that we step back and say these phrases to ourselves? Go ahead and do it.
How does that make you feel? If you’re like me, it makes you feel like you can take on the world one loan, one customer and one community project at a time.

But, like you, I have days that are just plain hard. You never hear people say that community banking is an easy job. It’s never been easy, and right now we’re all working in an environment that’s more challenging than ever before. As increasing regulation and rules have made our jobs as community bankers harder over the years, and as we work harder to make loans that were easier years ago, we must realize that never before have we had such an opportunity to take a hardship and turn it into a positive.

You might be scratching your head right about now and asking, “Where is she going with this?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that some of my biggest opportunities have come out of challenges. It’s up to every one of us to take a bad situation and make it into something that works for us, not against us.

How do we do that? By taking a negative, such as increasingly burdensome regulations, and framing a compelling story with solutions around it. We do that by providing the details—details like how you couldn’t give a loan to that coffee shop, which would have been located in an area of town that’s working to rejuvenate itself, because regulatory capital and lending requirements are too tight. Another example is how you weren’t able to make a home loan to the Smith family, a young family of four, because the financial crisis of 2008 is still haunting them. Yet the hard-working family deserves to get on with their lives and do the best they can in a home and in a town they’re devoted to.

All community bankers have clear examples of how regulation is harming their ability to help real people in their communities. Let’s tell these real-life stories to policymakers in Washington to do what needs to be done—get regulation off our backs so we can continue to serve our communities to the best of our abilities. By turning negatives into positive action with effective storytelling, there’s no stopping what we can accomplish.

So I encourage you, when you feel down, when you’re frustrated, to give yourself a good pep talk. Carpe diem! And realize that while many things may seem like they are out of your control, you actually are more in control of your community bank’s destiny than you think. Just take the bull by the horns!

Rebeca Romero Rainey is chairman and CEO of Centinel Bank of Taos, in Taos, N.M.