Preston Kennedy: We won’t stay on the sidelines

“ICBA is loud, proud and unwilling to stay on the sidelines.”

It is hard to believe that nearly a year has passed since I addressed ICBA LIVE 2019 in Nashville, Tenn., as the incoming chairman. What an honor it has been to serve as chairman of the only national association dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of community banking.

During the past year, I have come to realize just how critical it is to preserve that independent, unequivocal and undiluted voice for community banks. After all, it’s in our DNA.

Our venerable organization was founded in 1930 by a determined group of Minnesota community bankers in response to an existential threat to their industry. Dedicated to an ideal, and with their combined strength, those Minnesotans fought to preserve their independence.

My Top Three

There are so many highlights from my time as chair, but here are the top three:

  1. Having nearly my whole family in Nashville for ICBA LIVE 2019
  2. Sharing the podium with Fed governor Miki Bowman in her home state of Kansas
  3. TIE: Cowboy boots from IBAT and Cornhusker football in Nebraska

That spirit is embodied in ICBA’s stated mission: To create and promote an environment where community banks flourish. To accomplish that, ICBA is singularly devoted to protecting, nurturing and expanding that environment.

It is essential to keep an independent, uncompromising voice at the forefront of our financial policy debates. The cornerstone of effective community bank advocacy is that ICBA knows beyond a shadow of a doubt who it is that we represent: community banks and nothing but community banks. And that is 100% of the time.

In the classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey is shown how Bedford Falls would have been much different without him. Consider the state of community banking without ICBA:

  • The assessment base for FDIC premiums would not have been fairly revised, meaning community banks would have missed out on about $764 million in assessment credits
  • The regulatory relief won in S.2155 would have been significantly reduced, if passed at all
  • The Federal Reserve most likely would not have committed to providing real-time payments
  • Housing finance would be the domain of the largest banks
  • Walmart might have decimated Main Street banking as it has decimated Main Street retail

That these scenarios have not come to pass is due to the laser focus of the member-driven ICBA and its determination to preserve hard-won victories while expanding opportunities for community banks. ICBA is loud, proud and unwilling to stay on the sidelines.

Thank you for affording me the awesome opportunity to see up close these professional advocates, innovators and educators fighting every day so that community banks may continue to flourish.

Preston Kennedy, Chairman, ICBA
President and CEO, Zachary Bancshares Inc., Zachary, La.
Connect with Pres @BankPres