Robert Fisher: The importance of engagement

Robert Fisher, Chairman ICBA

Photo by Heather Esposito

In today’s climate, our voices are vital not only to the future of financial services, but to the millions of small businesses and consumers who depend upon us.

In today’s data-driven society, we hear a lot about engagement. Whether it’s social media likes, website views, call center touchpoints or branch visits, the bottom line amounts to how we engage with our customers and affect their experience.

As relationship bankers, these insights mean more to us than any others, yet our measure of engagement must extend far beyond simple interactions. Because an engagement is a commitment to meeting the needs of those with whom we connect. And I believe it’s the single most important thing we can do.

Being fully engaged is critical to succeeding at anything in life, particularly things that challenge us. Even when it’s a difficult step to take, once you commit to the task at hand, the process typically flows.
It’s true: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That statement speaks to the importance of our collective commitment.

Being fully engaged is critical to succeeding at anything in life, particularly things that challenge us. Even when it’s a difficult step to take, once you commit to the task at hand, the process typically flows.

My Top Three

When it comes to entertainment, for me, engagement is all about varying types of humor. Take my three favorite TV shows as proof:

  1. Seinfeld
  2. The Grand Tour (it’s the British Top Gear)
  3. Ozark

It’s true: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That statement speaks to the importance of our collective commitment.

This deep community engagement serves as the focal point of Community Banking Month, because the more bankers we can engage, the more powerful our message. Legislators and regulators listen to greater numbers of people advocating for the same position. Consider our success in shaping the Paycheck Protection Program. A lot of grassroots advocacy went into that outcome, and when I think back, I realize I was on twice-a-week Zoom calls with our congressman to help him understand our issues. His office, in turn, echoed our concerns to the Small Business Administration, and that same scenario played out in communities throughout the U.S. It took our collective efforts to achieve success.

That’s why I’m calling on all community bankers to become more deeply engaged with ICBA. In today’s climate, our voices are vital not only to the future of financial services, but to the millions of small businesses and consumers who depend upon us. It’s our duty to speak up on their behalf and ensure an equitable playing field, so we can offer the best possible services.

This year, I’m humbled and honored to serve as ICBA chairman, and I’m making it my mission to drive engagement with the association. If you have a question, problem or need, please reach out to me directly. I may not have the answer, but I’ll find someone who does. We’re all in this together, and if we want to change things and make them better, we need bankers to get engaged in the whole process.

I look forward to our efforts over the next year and the successes that will come from them. In the meantime, happy Community Banking Month!


Robert Fisher Chairman, ICBA
Robert Fisher is president, CEO and chairman of Tioga State Bank in Spencer, N.Y.
Connect with Robert @RobertMFisher

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