Connecticut Banker Macomber Becomes ACB’s Chairman
Mark Macomber, a leader in banking organizations in Connecticut and nationally, is the new chairman of America’s Community Bankers.
Macomber, president and CEO of Litchfield Bancorp, took over the chairmanship Oct. 17 at ACB’s annual convention in San Diego. He will serve until November 2007. He leads a 47-person board of directors which includes community bank CEOs from across the country.
Macomber attributes his chairmanship of ACB to good fortune. “It is an honor I do not take lightly and I look forward to sharing my passion for our industry and the remarkable things bankers do for their communities every day.”
Macomber outlined a number of specific goals he will have for leading ACB in 2007: engaging bankers in advocacy efforts, taking on the credit unions, promoting mutuality and encouraging bankers to educate their employees.
Beyond the challenge of trying to manage a profitable institution in a dynamic, competitive market, Macomber says the biggest challenge facing community banks today is the “unrelenting regulatory burden that is killing our industry.”
Macomber notes that the regulatory relief bill that recently passed Congress is a first down payment, but that much more needs to be done.
Macomber believes that “Excessive regulation is not only a huge cost burden to community banks like mine, but it also affects what we can do for our customers. There are banks that are literally going out of business even though they are fundamentally sound and profitable institutions.” Macomber gave an example: “One small commercial bank in my area is looking at losing $300,000 to $400,000 off their bottom line because of the high costs of meeting initial Sarbanes-Oxley requirements. This is an incredible burden. Like everything else, there was never a cost-benefit analysis of any of this legislation, and I don’t know anybody who feels the cost is worth the benefit,” he warns.
Macomber says there are many more issues that need to be addressed, but the most important one is getting bankers involved in the process. Macomber implored his fellow bankers during his acceptance speech, “We will work tirelessly to promote and defend the interests of community bankers, but we need you. We need you to be involved and engaged. Your active participation will make a difference for your bank,” he told ACB members.
Macomber is deeply troubled by the inequities of bank-like credit unions keeping their tax exemption and he plans on beating the bully pulpit this year to do just that. He specifically singles out large, complex credit unions for not paying their share.
“Credit unions do everything banks do, and through their affiliated service organizations, they do even more.” We will continue to urge that the giant, conglomerate credit unions pay taxes, he said. “After all, as ACB has said before, “If you want to play like a bank, you have to pay like a bank.”
Macomber believes ACB’s Charter Choice position will also allow him to achieve another goal: promoting the benefits of mutual institutions. “My role as ACB chairman is to promote all community banks, but I am particularly passionate about mutuals.”
Macomber is proud of being a mutual banker because he believes it is a better way of doing business for a community. And he proudly adds, “I love my job.” In his inaugural address to the ACB annual convention, he said that mutuals “serve our customers and our communities. We help grow the economy. And, yes, we pay our taxes. A lot of taxes.” Macomber said mutuals pay $800 million in taxes – “a lot of money ... even in Washington.
As a 1981 graduate of ACB’s National School of Banking, which he calls “the best single educational experience of my career,” Macomber has made educating employees a top priority. Many bankers have had similar opportunities, he says, because someone who cared made an investment in them. “Now it is our responsibility to make that same investment in others,” he tells bank CEOs. He adds, “Our job as CEO is not just to run our banks, it is also to prepare for the future. And there is no better way to do that than by providing our employees with the training they need to be the leaders of the future.”
Macomber also emphasized that CEOs need to field the best team the bank’s resources allow, and “we cannot do that unless we provide our people with the training and, yes, the encouragement they need,” he told his fellow bankers.
And yet Macomber understands that employee education can be a challenge for small banks, because they lack the in-house resources to train employees and to make the most of their abilities. That’s when banks should take advantage of programs like the ones that ACB offers – from its National School of Banking to the education programs it runs in meetings around the country.
Employee education will open new avenues for bank staff, and it will make employees better workers, Macomber believes. And in turn, they will make your bank a better bank, he says. As GE chairman Jack Welch has said, “The team with the best players wins.”
Macomber adds that ACB’s focus is to make community banks more competitive, and he plans on getting the message out to bankers across the country
“ACB is the innovative industry leader strengthening the competitive position of community banks. It emphasizes innovation, leadership, commitment and passion in bringing its members advocacy, education and products and services to help them compete and win in their markets. And I am really looking forward to this year and the opportunity to meet bankers from across the country,” he said.
Macomber said his experience as a community banker in New England and for the past 14 years in Connecticut has given him a great foundation for his new role as ACB chairman.
“I believe a strong community banking industry is essential to the financial future of this country. Community bankers are at the front lines, helping new homeowners, funding small businesses, serving on local boards and charities. We’re not just lenders in the community, we are leaders and I want to use my position at ACB to tell that story.”