The Myth of Summer
By W. Stuart Cameron
Remember as a kid, you just couldn’t wait until school was out so you could live a fancy-free existence – no daily class routines, no homework, no tests, just a life of summer leisure? In the workplace, some carry over their sense of summer fun from childhood as they look forward to vacations – time with the family, time to break away from the daily routine. Nice if you can do it!
For years, July and August were viewed as the time when things slow down on the job – a time to catch up on those tasks or projects that were set aside throughout the year. And here lies the myth – what slowdown? The association staff kept things jumping throughout the summer.
A NEW MEMBER SERVICE
I am happy to announce that the association, through its NJBA Service Corp. and Credit Lenders Services Agency Inc., Cherry Hill – a long-time affiliate of the association – has jointly signed a multi-year contract to bring a new service to the membership by adding flood insurance determinations to our repertoire of products.
As an endorsed vendor, Credit Lenders has also agreed to pay the association additional revenue based on product sales. The greater the sales, the more the association and its members benefit. Going forward, the success of this program will also lead to widening the product offerings and services that Credit Lenders provides. This non-dues source of revenue for the association is a win-win for all involved. Contact information is provided in the story on page 34.
BACK ON THE MAP WITH ABA
In July, NJBankers had a full contingent attend the American Bankers Association summer meeting at the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Attending with me were Chairman Mike Quick, Vice Chairman Roger Bosma, Treasurer Norm Beatty and George Sharpf from Amboy National Bank, along with our spouses. I am pleased to report that we doubled our Federal BankPac contribution from over a year ago.
While at the summer meeting, I was honored by being named the 2007 chairman of the Eastern and Southern Bankers Regional Group by my peers to succeed Alex Sanchez of the Florida Bankers Association. I am proud to say that NJBankers is back on the map at ABA, with Mike Quick representing us on the Community Bankers and Government Relations councils, Roger Bosma on the Community Bankers Council, Norm Beatty on the Membership Council, George Scharpf on the Government Relations Council and Nicholas Vaglio of Wachovia Bank N.A. on the ABA Marketing Network Council. At the ABA annual meeting in the fall, other leading NJBankers members are expected to be elected to serve on other ABA committees as well.
On a personal note, over the summer we were surprised to learn of former NJBankers Chairman C. Mark Campbell’s retirement from Greater Community Bancorp. We wish Mark and Barbara the very best wherever life should lead them next. A strong rumor has it that they might be spending much of their time in the Scottsdale, Ariz., area, which is one of their favorite places.
ON THE ROAD WITH OUR CEOs
During the summer, nearly 20 member-bank field visits were scheduled. Throughout the past three summers, I have made nearly 50 visits, with more to come. The visits allow me to share with our presidents and CEOs association developments and program offerings, while gaining some insights on the challenges currently facing our financial institutions. This is part of our firsthand ongoing effort to keep in tune with the industry so we can direct our programs and services accordingly.
Although addressing the challenges of CRA, satisfying over-regulatory burdens, meeting the escalating cost of doing business in New Jersey and unfair credit union expansionism were often discussed, the topic most frequently raised pertained to the area of professional development. Bankers constantly spoke of the need for the association to provide more training in a variety of areas. Lender training and development, especially commercial, was sought after the most. Sales and marketing training, along with business development, was a close second, followed by understanding the role of a bank director. One CEO plainly indicated that his people need to learn how to cultivate business relationships in order to build the bank’s customer base. He said when they go to community functions or civic group meetings they sit like “bumps on a log” and have a difficult time mingling and taking part. They need to learn how to make and close a sale.
As part of our effort to address professional training needs, we are in the process of expanding the role of our human resources committee to include the professional development function. To help the association achieve this goal, I am requesting that bank presidents and CEOs offer names to the association of those officers on their staff in charge of personnel training.
OTHER LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Borne out of a discussion at our last Community Bankers Committee meeting, the association is pursuing partnering with other state bankers associations to offer banker training at their respective schools. In August, at the suggestion of Chairman Quick, I attended the Maryland Banking School to experience their three-year program as well as their Advanced Banking School. I left very impressed and am recommending that we pursue consummating a partnering arrangement with them as an offering to interested New Jersey bankers. I will also be exploring similar possibilities with New York and Pennsylvania. Once the professional development arm of the Human Resources Committee is formed, I will be asking them to determine what educational programs they feel we can offer directly through our own association.
We will also continue to offer online banker training as the sole provider for the American Institute of Banking (AIB) in New Jersey. I, along with other association staff members, met with AIB Executive Director Teri Callahan in August to discuss ways to grow the school by having bankers take advantage of this outstanding, cost-effective and user-friendly educational opportunity. We urge you to be on the lookout for the fall and winter program schedule, which is also posted on our Web site, www.njbankers.com, for online registration.
The summer was also devoted to preparing an outstanding fall program schedule, including the annual Senior Management Conference, Sunday and Monday, Sept. 17 to 18, at the Marriott Seaview Resort, Absecon; the Annual Trust Conference, Thursday, Oct. 5 at The Crowne Plaza, Monroe Township (a panel of leading experts – a well-known economist, legislators, a key member of the Corzine administration and Chairman of the state Chamber of Commerce – will be addressing a hot topic: Are We Chasing Wealth Away from New Jersey?); and “BankHorizons 2006” (a vendor and training extravaganza), Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Raritan Center, Edison. See page 14 to register for this event.
You can’t afford to miss these and other exceptional program opportunities! More details can be obtained directly on our Web site, and a complete listing of all of our professional development events may be found on page 35.
As you can see, your association did not have a fancy-free summer; instead it was a summer focused on how we can give our members more value, how we can take NJBankers from being a good organization and transform it into a great one. So much for the “myth of summer!”
W. Stuart Cameron is president and CEO of NJBankers. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.