By John Witkowski
At our recent Annual Convention at West Point, I provided an update on IBANYS’ year to date, and a brief preview of 2016. IBANYS continues on the path of a sound fiscal condition, a strong and growing membership and effective and productive performance.
Community banking is a critical part of local and state economies and our neighborhoods throughout New York. Our challenge is to continue to keep IBANYS relevant and important to every community banker in our state, and the many businesses so important to our industry. We must continue to grow and strengthen our membership; develop recurring revenue streams for the association; explore new ways to provide tangible value and enhance operating efficiencies – both for IBANYS, and to help banks examine their own.
During 2015 we have offered major educational programs for community banks – many on a regional basis, to make them more convenient – and provide CPE credits to participants. We hosted regional compliance and security programs; our first-ever lending conference; our CFO/Senior Management Conference; regional directors conferences and our Annual Convention.
On the membership front, we continue to meet with current and prospective member banks, associate members and preferred providers throughout New York to develop new ways to provide real value to all our constituents. We have launched new initiatives such as our Health Wellness Card program to offer banks and partner firms an alternative way of providing health benefits to employees while controlling health care costs. We launched a partnership with the Buffalo Bills Alumni Foundation to support its “Cure the Blue” program to raise funds and awareness regarding prostate cancer research.
Of course, we have also been extremely active on the government relations and advocacy front in both Albany and Washington, as has been described in our public policy updates. This has included major efforts involving tax reform, regulatory relief initiatives, opposition to proposals that would have allowed tax-exempt credit unions to expand their powers and authorities and make an already uneven playing field even more so.
So yes, we’ve done some great things together at IBANYS in 2015. What’s next?
Each day, we strive to answer a simple question: How can we serve the needs and interests of our membership (and potential members), banks and partner firms alike? Two ways we’re working to do so are initiatives I call “Building the Bridge” and our three-pronged “Plan To Provide Value.”
IBANYS’ goal is to be the bridge connecting ALL New York community banks, regardless of location, size, charter or type of ownership. A strong, vital community banking industry is essential to the economy and social fabric of ALL New York’s communities, whether rural areas, suburbs or large city neighborhoods. Our common challenges, issues and opportunities unite us far more than any artificial differences in geography, size or charter could separate us.
Secondly, we must provide value to our member banks, and also to our partners and allies in the business community who provide important products, services and benefits to our banks. We must also assure value to the association itself through a recurring revenue stream to help ensure our financial viability. And, we also work to provide value to our partner firms and allies who provide important products, services and growth opportunities to our member banks and industry.
We’ve made a strong start. Years ago, after graduating from Columbia and before starting my career in banking, I had the unique opportunity to play quarterback in the National Football League. In my brief time there, I was never on a team that celebrated winning the first quarter or first half of a game. It was ALWAYS about moving forward and improving: every possession, every quarter, every game. That’s the approach our IBANYS team brings on behalf of New York community banks.
There is much more we need to accomplish together. As we look to the coming year, we’ll keep building on the strong foundation we have established. The work goes on, and we’re in it together with our membership, and our partners. Let’s keep moving forward together.■
John Witkowski is president and CEO of the Independent Bankers Association of New York State. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 436-4646.