Public Affairs Update | By Stephen W. Rice
Forty years ago, a group of local independent community bankers from throughout New York State formed the Independent Bankers Association of New York State (IBANYS). Why? To ensure New York’s smaller banks had a strong, unified voice and presence in Albany on legislative and regulatory matters, and have an organization of their own, where they could build relationships and share experiences and ideas.
Since 1974, IBANYS has taken our mission to heart: Representing the interests of community banks and their commitment to meeting the financial needs of their customers and communities. Our locally-based ownership allows us to stay close to the economic pulse of New York’s cities, towns and villages. With locally-set policies, we are inextricably linked to our communities. As providers of financial services and active participants in civic affairs, we are integral to their future.
Indeed, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled the New York State Department of Financial Services’ landmark Community Banking Study last year, he said: “Community banks represent a strong economic engine that drives growth in New York and their performance is remarkable. Small business is the engine of job growth and most small business loans come not from the big national banks, but from community banks.”
We’ve had a great deal of success together over the years, most recently a major victory in Albany that will reform the way community banks are taxed, and result in significant bottom line savings. Yet, we still have much to do.
In 1958, New York’s community banks endorsed a document entitled, “Independent Bankers Credo.” In part, it states: “By the faith that is in us in American Independent Banking, and by our faith in the role it plays in American economy, we look forward to the challenge of the future confidently.”
At IBANYS, we think that says it well. We want to “bridge the gap” and bring together community banks from upstate regions and their colleagues from the NYC/LI area to network, share ideas and conduct business wherever possible. We want all New York community banks to take full advantage of our government relations presence and reputation in Albany, and our extensive list of educational programs, conferences and webinars.
We’re very proud that our IBANYS’ incoming Vice Chairman John Buhrmaster also chairs the Independent Community Bankers of America, which represents community banks all across the nation. Buhrmaster, president of 1st National Bank of Scotia, recently wrote: “It’s our independent community banks that are our nation’s legacy. It’s something no other country in this world has. Our financial system is unique. And it’s this independence through community banks that keeps our financial system strong – even through tough economic times.”
We couldn’t agree more!■
Steve Rice coordinates government relations and communications for the Independent Bankers Association of New York State. He has worked in the New York banking industry and New York state government for more than three decades.