Reaching New Heights by Stewardship
By James Hyman
The association continues to reach new heights as it serves the banking community. This comes as no accident as the board of trustees, many bank volunteers and the staff are working diligently to make a difference.
In June a dozen of us traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit the American Bankers Association, regulatory leaders and members of the New Jersey congressional delegation – our first such trip in 11 years. We shared our concerns about issues such as credit unions and the serious implications of Interest on Attorney Trust Accounts (IOLTA) rules on our industry.
We expressed our opposition to H.R. 3579 and our disappointment with those New Jersey congressional delegation members who are co-sponsoring this legislation aimed at expanding credit union business-lending powers. Frankly, it was one of the most meaningful NJBankers sponsored events in recent memory. Complete coverage of the trip is our cover story in this issue of New Jersey Banker and begins on page 16 of this issue. I urge members to make a point to attend our next visit, tentatively scheduled for June 6 and 7, 2005.
In July, Ted Bessler and I joined NJBankers President Stu Cameron at the ABA summer meeting at the Greenbrier in West Virginia. Apart from meeting at this beautiful and historical landmark and having the thrill of playing golf on the course made famous by golf legend Sam Snead, the meeting was informative and gave us a good opportunity to network.
As chairman, I was proud to see the respect that NJBankers, under Stu’s leadership, commanded from ABA and fellow state association executives. It was clear that our programs are right on the mark when compared with other state associations.
A focal point of the conference pertained to “Operation Credit Unions” and what we as banking professionals need to be doing to stem the tide of over-expansionism by credit unions into our domain. This subject is going to be more thoroughly discussed at the NJBankers Annual Senior Management Conference, Sept. 26-27 at the Marriott Seaview Resort in Absecon. One thing is clear: When it comes to this issue, there is no room for idleness. Please make a point to attend.
On the state side, NJBankers, through its counsel, Mary Kay Roberts of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP, and in cooperation with the League of Community Bankers and their counsel, Mike Horn of McCarter English, has been engaging the Freedom Credit Union matter in Pennsylvania. Although we have been disappointed with the results, along with the lack of respect shown by Pennsylvania toward the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (NJDOBI), NJBankers weighed in during the hearings in Harrisburg, Penn.
We also raised our objections to NJDOBI regarding First Jersey Credit Union’s request to convert its charter from a multi-SEG (select employee group) to a community credit union. This conversion of the Hawthorne-based credit union would expand its common bond of membership to include those individuals who live, work, worship or attend school in Passaic County.
NJBankers Vice President and Director of Government Relations Rob Tartaglia continues to monitor state legislation pertinent to the industry, such as the 9-1-1 ATM bill and the financial privacy bill. Trenton is fast changing, especially with the upcoming changing of the guard in the executive branch. Rob will keep us informed as to the business outlook of the new administration. The experience of the business community in recent years underscores the need for a stellar grassroots program. Rob has been working together with NJBankers Government Relations Committee Chairman Mike Quick to establish our grassroots initiative by putting our Action Banker Councils (ABC) in place. In conjunction with the ABC program, we are developing user-friendly applications online to better inform lawmakers of our position on issues. Once in place, we hope that members will take full advantage of communicating industry positions on issues to Washington and Trenton.
Throughout the summer NJBankers Vice President and Director of Communications Tim Doherty conducted demonstration and training sessions for bank security officers and members of the law enforcement community to introduce them to our anti-fraud network, FinCrime. After a free trial period during the summer, NJBankers is now charging users a nominal fee of $300 per member and $450 per non-member, as established by our Bank Security Committee, to cover the expenses associated with making the program available.
To date, more than 150 bank security officers and members of local, county, state and federal law enforcement have joined this very worthwhile endeavor. If your financial institution or law enforcement agency has not yet signed up and you are interested, visit www.njbankers.com and click on the FinCrime menu.
Beginning this fall, NJBankers, as the New Jersey American Institute of Banking (AIB) Provider, will begin offering online courses for AIB credit. Please watch the NJBankers website for updates, schedules and registration information. If you need further assistance, please contact our Director of Education, April Coles.
April puts forth a fine effort to list programs well in advance for member planning purposes. For example, not only is the 2005 Annual Convention at Windsor Court in New Orleans (March 16-20) listed, but so is the 2006 convention location, which is scheduled to be held at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz. (March 15-19). For convenience, the Web site is set up to allow those interested in any of our program offerings to register in advance and pay by credit card.
Our Web site, http://www.njbankers .com, also has direct links to industry regulators and the ABA. It is also informative, as it offers late-breaking stories pertaining to the industry and offers the only online source of financial industry personnel news – Bank Notes Online – in the state. Suggestions on how to make our Web site even more beneficial are always welcome.
During my acceptance speech at this year’s convention I placed a strong emphasis on our need as banking professionals to view ourselves as “stewards of the industry.” I still remain convinced of how important this is to our very success as bankers. I want to thank those who have demonstrated their commitment to this realization through their involvement in the association. This is evidenced by the fact that 26 new affiliates have joined the association at your urging and by your participation in the legislative process, as evidenced by the generosity of the Community Bankers and contributions to JEBPAC (Jersey Bankers Political Action Committee). JEBPAC contributions are on the threshold of surpassing the $55,000 raised last year. If your bank hasn’t made its contribution there is still time to do so. Please do your part to help NJBankers Chairman Robert Corcoran and the JEBPAC Management Committee surpass their 2004 goal.
As part of this commitment, I also urge you meet your bank’s needs in goods and services by making your purchases from our endorsed vendors and affiliates, who are listed on the Web site. I further urge you to meet your employee health and welfare needs by purchasing your plans from the NJBankers Service Corp. Not only do you receive personal service and gain consolidated billing efficiency at competitive prices, you also gain the opportunity to help offset the potential for annual association dues increases. For further assistance call Susan Bonin, executive director of the Corp., or her assistant, Jane Swanson.
I hope you and your financial institution will take full advantage of the many benefits offered through NJBankers, as we continue to reach new heights as an industry through our stewardship.
James Hyman is president and chief executive officer of Hopewell Valley Community Bank, based in Pennington.