From Turnberry Isle to New Orleans
By James Hyman
It is hard to believe that my term as chairman of NJBankers has drawn to a close. It seems like it was yesterday that I was giving an acceptance speech at our annual convention at Turnberry Isle in Florida to lay out a vision to strengthen and grow our organization, NJBankers. I emphasized the word “our” and voiced a strong belief that each of us as banking professionals has a major responsibility to be “Stewards of our Industry.” I believed it then and, since serving as your chairman, I believe it now more than ever.
I experienced firsthand the dedication of my colleagues who worked tirelessly at doing their part to make a difference. It was especially meaningful to me to not only have my chairman, Pat Ryan of Hopewell Valley Community Bank, allow me the opportunity to serve the industry in this manner, but also to see him personally pitch in on numerous occasions, including heading up the Action Banker Council for Central Jersey.
I was also blessed with members of an executive committee who not only made themselves available as my counsel and support system, but who also involved themselves in numerous ways. First Vice Chairman Ted Bessler and Second Vice Chairman Mike Quick hosted focus groups; Treasurer Tom Gregor did a yeoman’s job tending the books. All three attended meetings and functions on a regular basis, despite their normal bank obligations. Mike could have stepped aside from chairing the Government Relations Committee, but chose not to in order to see his commitment through to launch the ABC program. Their enthusiasm for NJBankers was not only contagious; it helped buoy me up throughout the year.
JEBPAC SETS A RECORD
I also have to acknowledge the work of JebPac Chairman Bob Corcoran, who set the modern JebPac fundraising campaign record of raising over $73,000. We had more JebPac participation than ever before, and to every banker that participated or served as a county captain we owe a great debt of gratitude. Another “Steward of the Industry” is our convention Chairman Roger Bosma. He has gone the extra mile to make our conventions special in addition to hosting our Morris-Passaic-Sussex-Warren focus group. Other hosts to whom I am grateful include: Jack Davis, Yardville’s Pat Ryan and Paul Van Ostenbridge and again, Bob Corcoran.
I would be remiss not to thank the many gracious banker and vendor sponsors who have been acknowledged at our events throughout the year. In the case of the vending community, the best way to say thank you is by granting them the opportunity to pay a visit to your bank.
A major factor behind the success of NJBankers is our committee system. Our 16 standing committees provide the expertise and input necessary to guide the association, whether it be establishing positions on legislation or identifying educational and training needs. The committees involve over 250 banker volunteers who give of their time to meet and participate in a meaningful process. We thank them and their banks for allowing them the time to contribute.
NJBANKERS GOES TO WASHINGTON
Last year we revived a once popular activity and broke new ground in the life of NJBankers. In June we returned to Washington, D.C., with a delegation visiting ABA, Capitol Hill, the FDIC, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. It was one of the highlights of the year and is again scheduled for June 6-7 this year. Don’t miss it!
FINCRIME Wins Recognition
In June of last year the association joined the FinCrime Network in an effort to fight fraud. Over 250 banks and law enforcement organizations have joined the effort, which has met with overwhelming acceptance and success. To join the program it costs member banks $300 and non-members $450. A bank recently caught a fraudulent check as a result of the program and averted a $13,000 loss – a great return for a nominal investment.
The launch of FinCrime was so successful that it caught the attention of the New Jersey Society of Association Executives, which honored it with its Positive Impact Award at the association’s annual convention in December (see Bank Shots, p. 30). NJSAE cited the fact that FinCrime has made a difference to both members of the New Jersey banking industry and to the citizens of the state as well.
FinCrime can be accessed through our Web site, www.njbankers.com.
OTHER ONLINE OPPORTUNITIES
In September NJBankers became the official provider of AIB online training and ABA eLearning. Over 150 cost effective and convenient course offerings are now available. Check the NJBankers Web site for the latest NJBankers, AIB, ABA eLearning and telephone seminars. Our Web site online registration system has recently been upgraded and made easier to use and accepts credit cards.
Another innovation introduced on our Web site this year was the Capwiz program, through which members can conveniently contact legislators directly to weigh in on legislation positions. The association’s Web site is continually being enhanced with new features and innovations. I strongly urge you to utilize the features of www.njbankers.com.
NJBankers office technology has continued to evolve, making the association all the more efficient in the services it provides to its members. Xerox, in fact, has recognized NJBankers’ integrated approach to office technology and will be featuring the association and its staff in a major national and international road show this year.
Our magazine, New Jersey Banker, is filled with interesting information and industry happenings. This is a good opportunity for vendors to communicate information to the industry. Numerous informative articles have been provided by the legal and vending community through the years. Getting published in New Jersey Banker is a great way to gain professional exposure with the New Jersey financial services industry.
A YEAR OF NETWORKING
The Action Banker Council program was a new innovation that has led to several meetings between bankers and legislators this year. The association has actively engaged legislative and regulatory matters. Included among the many issues addressed are predatory lending, credit unions (the Freedom Credit Union application), IOLTA, ATM 9-1-1 and financial privacy.
Last year while attending the New Jersey League of Community Bankers convention in Charleston, I had the opportunity to meet fellow-banker and Millington Savings Bank President Gary T. Jolliffe. Both Gary and I had just been installed to head up our respective organizations. At Gary’s suggestion both of us agreed to have a joint meeting sometime during our year as chairman. We held that meeting in February and found it productive and rewarding. There was truly a spirit of working together on common goals and combining meetings, such as our annual senior management conference, when deemed appropriate. It is my hope that such gatherings will continue in the future, as there is strength in numbers.
NJBankers was also pro-active in the area of promoting financial literacy in New Jersey. We joined the efforts of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance and the New Jersey Financial Literacy Advocacy Network to help promote the opening of financial literacy centers.
ALWAYS MOVING FORWARD
The association has made great strides over the past couple of years with many exciting added services and technological innovations. The association needs our support, not just through our dues, committee participation and attendance at educational training programs, but also through our purchasing of the many products provided by the association.
The NJBA Service Corp., in conjunction with its brokers, offers a wide array of insurance products at competitive prices. The association also offers many publications for sale including the NJBankers Bulletin, the New Jersey Banking Statutes, the NJBankers Regulatory Review and the now annual New Jersey Financial Institutions Directory to name a few. Less than 50 percent of the association’s budget comes from dues; the majority of its expenses are covered through education, publications and insurance sales. Part of being a good steward of the industry is taking advantage of the many NJBankers offerings.
Throughout my year as chairman, from Turnberry Isle to New Orleans, I had the opportunity to get to know the association’s professional staff. The 10 people who make all this possible on a day in and day out basis are to be commended for what they do for our industry. They make the job of the volunteer easy. To each of them, Sabrina Younossi, Mary Lou Hessman, Lorraine Holcombe, Jane Eiseman, Susan Bonin, Jane Swanson, April Coles, Tim Doherty, Rob Tartaglia and Stu Cameron, I say thanks for a job well done and for allowing me the opportunity to work with you all.
James Hyman is president and chief executive officer of Hopewell Valley Community Bank, based in Pennington.