Aaron Stetter: Back to Capitol Hill

ICBA Capital Summit

The ICBA Capital Summit is the premier event for community bankers looking to advocate for their industry.

In person for the first time since 2019, the ICBA Capital Summit in Washington, D.C., is your chance to make your voice heard by your members of Congress—with support from ICBA every step of the way.

By Aaron Stetter, ICBA

Community bankers, pack your bags for Washington, D.C. After a year of virtual visits, the ICBA Capital Summit—the most high-profile and powerful community bank advocacy event of the year—is back in person May 1–4.

No other event provides more opportunities for community bankers to engage with lawmakers, regulators and government officials. They can advocate for their industry while getting the inside scoop from pundits and other insiders. More than just an exchange of ideas, the ICBA Capital Summit is also a place where community bankers can tell their stories en masse, highlighting the passion and commitment of institutions that drive growth and prosperity in America’s communities.

Meeting with members of Congress and their highly influential staff—often organized by ICBA’s affiliated state associations—is the single most effective way to be heard. A study by the Congressional Management Foundation found that in-person constituent meetings with members of Congress and their staff are the most effective way to influence them.

Visiting a congressional office in Washington, D.C., whether it’s meeting with the member of Congress or a key staff member, shows lawmakers that the issues facing community banks are so critical that bankers are willing to invest the time to travel and be away from their banks. It’s also a step relatively few constituents take, so it makes those who visit memorable, and is a great way to start to build or reinforce a relationship.

Washington’s leading voices

While at the ICBA Capital Summit, community bankers will enjoy insights from expert speakers. In the past, this has included former Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, former Senate Banking Committee chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), House Financial Services Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and many more.

When Crapo and Waters spoke at the summit back-to-back in 2019, The Economist took note, writing that “the class of the guests reflects the clout of the hosts … two powerful visitors,” and describing ICBA and its members as “both deeply rooted in their home soil and well organized.”

Advocacy coaching

Part of being organized is knowing what to say and how to say it. ICBA provides extensive coaching and talking points on key policy initiatives to prepare community bankers for their meetings. World-class policy experts prepare bankers to make the most of their meetings, briefing them on how to tell compelling stories that illustrate the challenges of community banking and building communities. They also help bankers explain how specific legislative changes would better serve constituents—whether it’s leveling the playing field with credit unions or adjusting the community bank leverage ratio to account for the huge increase in deposits resulting from federal pandemic financial relief.

ICBA teaches community bankers how to make “the ask,” so that bankers know what specifically they’d like a congressperson’s office to do—whether it’s sponsoring, cosponsoring or voting for a bill—and when they’d like them to do it.

This year’s agenda will include critical issues such as:

  • pushing back against indiscriminate tax increases, IRS reporting mandates, and unfair credit union and Farm Credit System competition
  • urging Senate passage of the SAFE Banking Act and cosponsorship of the Enhancing Credit Opportunities for Rural America Act of 2021 (ECORA, H.R. 1977/S. 2202)
  • raising awareness of the need to close the ILC loophole.

Grasstops advocacy

The ICBA Capital Summit typically draws more than 1,000 attendees eager to advocate for their industry and their community in a city known for its history and beauty. They exercise their basic right to petition the government.

There are also opportunities to learn about “grasstops” advocacy—those who go beyond telling their own story to help organize groups of community bankers. It’s an invaluable way to give back to the industry and amplify your impact.

In today’s environment, where multiple priorities compete for lawmakers’ attention, the loudest and most persistent voices are the hardest to tune out. Advancing ICBA’s agenda requires the voices of thousands of community bankers.

Register for the ICBA 2022 Capital Summit and help advocate for change that will ensure vibrant and resilient communities. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear directly from those in power and make the case for your industry.

Your industry and your community need your voice.

Register for the ICBA Capital Summit 2022

Learn more and register to attend today.

Important note: The health and safety of all ICBA Capital Summit attendees is top priority. We are taking appropriate safety measures and following all federal and local guidelines. Washington, D.C., has mask and vaccine requirements for indoor venues, including hotels and restaurants, for those ages 12 and over.

Aaron Stetter (aaron.stetter@icba.org) is ICBA’s executive vice president of policy and political operations