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April 2015

15

l e a d i n g

a d v o c a t e

f o r

t h e

b a n k i n g

i n d u s t r y

i n

k a n s a s

I

’VE NOTICED A GROWING TREND INWASHINGTON

that bodes well for our industry: An increasing number

of young bankers coming to the capital to participate in

bank visits and industry conferences oriented toward

advocacy. This infusion of talent is a sign of great things

to come, and it is largely attributable to the diligent work state

associations have been doing to identify and develop emerging

leaders.

The presence of young bankers in the halls of Washington —

and at gatherings all around the country — is reminiscent of

ABA’s origins. In fact, 140 years ago, it was a young Missouri

banker named James Howenstein, who at the age of 33 took the

initiative to organize a gathering of bankers in New York that

led to the formation of the American Bankers Association. He

and 16 other bankers – many of them what we today would call

“emerging leaders” — gathered to “put their heads and hearts

together to bring into a union of business interest and hearty

affection the bankers of our country for a better bankerhood.”

These bankers recognized the importance of networking and

engagement, even if they didn’t call it that.

Whether it’s participating in a panel discussion on “The 21st

Century Banker” — as Katie Boyd, from FirstCapital Bank in

Texas; Tom Richards, from Owingsville Banking Company in

Kentucky, and Siya Vansia, from ConnectOne Bank in New

Jersey, did at ABA’s Annual Convention in Dallas last fall — or

participating in state young banker divisions and leadership

programs — these young leaders bring fresh energy and

valuable insights to the debates shaping our industry. The 100-

plus that gathered for ABA’s Emerging Leaders Forum, which

is a growing part of our annual Government Relations Summit

in March, certainly proves that to be true.

The trend is also evident in the number of emerging leaders

participating in the ABA-State Association Washington Visit

Program, which brings more than 1,400 bankers to the nation’s

capital every year to advocate for the industry, and in grassroots

programs. It’s especially important to encourage tomorrow’s

leaders to engage in such activities since grassroots advocacy

has become a core responsibility in a banking leader’s job

description. Anyone who plans a future in banking needs to be

developing relationships now with the very people who could

dictate it. That means Congress and regulatory agency leaders.

And as the faces of Congress continue to change and become

more diverse, our industry’s advocates must reflect that change.

Remember that these officials are often advised by younger

staffers — staffers who, depending on how long their member

of Congress has been in office, may know very little about

banking. What better way to introduce them to our issues

— and how policies established in Washington affect banks’

customers and communities — than through a conversation

with a banker who is much closer to being their own peer.

There is nothing but “upside risk,” as the Fed might say, to

turning today’s young bankers into advocates for the industry.

Between the state associations and ABA, we have abundant

resources to help make it happen. From schools and conference

planning committees to financial literacy and grassroots contact

programs — the demand for young banker talent is high.

Let’s continue to develop that talent together. Young bankers

represent the future of our industry, and judging by what I’ve

seen, it is in very capable hands.

E-mail Frank Keating at

keating@aba.com

© 2015 American Bankers Association. All rights reserved. Reprinted with

permission.

THE FUTURE IS IN

GOOD HANDS

By Frank Keating, President and CEO

American Bankers Association