By John E. McWeeney Jr.
When I gave my address at our annual convention in March, I shared a comment that Phil Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, had made to me about our association. He called NJBankers a “sleeping giant” that had the potential to become a major force in our industry and in New Jersey.
I asked our members and our partners to join the NJBankers staff and me in working together to awaken the sleeping giant and achieve its place as one of the premier state banking associations in the country and as one of the most powerful trade associations in New Jersey. Well, as I begin my fifth month as your president and CEO, I’m pleased to report that the sleeping giant is beginning to awaken and people are taking notice.
Making the Rounds
As promised during my convention address, I’ve spent most of my time during these past four months out in the market meeting with our member banks. I’ve visited over half of our member banks and the reception I’ve received has been terrific. We have a broad membership base with different sized institutions located across the state, and they all share a strong loyalty and commitment to the success of NJBankers. For those of you I’ve already visited, thank you for the warm reception. For those of you I haven’t seen yet, you’ll be hearing from me soon. Our association exists to serve its members, so I can’t think of a better use of my time than to spend it with our members.
I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with many of our affiliate members and their reception has been equally as enthusiastic. We’re fortunate to have an affiliate member base of approximately 125 firms that bring high quality solutions to our member banks. Our meetings have been focused on strengthening our partnerships to better serve our member banks. I urge our member banks to be receptive when an affiliate member contacts you. They’re trying to bring you solutions to better serve your clients and help your bank achieve success. I thank all of our affiliate members for their support and I’m excited about partnering with you in the future.
I’m very pleased to report significant progress in strengthening an already outstanding staff. Rob Tartaglia received a well-deserved promotion to executive vice president. Rob does an outstanding job representing our industry in Trenton and this promotion recognizes his contributions.
Additionally, we’ve added two new members to our staff. David Harkness joins us as vice president and director of education and events after 13 years with the New Jersey League of Municipalities in a similar role. David is a great addition to our team and will bring our programs to new levels. We’re also happy to have Joe Sickler join us to fill the important position of controller. Be sure to read the article about these three staff members that appears on page 38 of this issue.
On the event side, the strong momentum we built coming out of our convention has continued with our successful trip to Washington, D.C., and a host of other well-attended seminars. When our bankers participate and our affiliate members and partners provide their support it makes for an unbeatable combination. As I write this column, we’re finalizing our plans for what promises to be our most successful Senior Management Conference ever in terms of attendance and sponsor support. This is just the beginning; keep an eye out for some exciting new programs and events to be launched in 2008.
Another critical area that I’ve been focusing on is enhancing or building strategic partnerships with key players in our industry. I’ve visited with both the Philadelphia and New York Federal Reserve Banks, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, to name a few. I’ve also visited the state banking associations in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York and found that we have good friends in those states that are happy to share their best practices. Lastly, we’ve also built much stronger ties with the ABA over these past four months. All of these strategic partners want to see NJBankers succeed and want to help us in serving our member banks.
In closing, I want to thank all of you for the wonderful reception I’ve received. It’s gratifying to know that we have so much support. Four months into the job, I’m even more confident and more passionate that NJBankers will become the great, member-driven, value-added association that we all want it to be. Yes indeed, the sleeping giant has begun to awaken and the best days of our association lie ahead.
John E. McWeeney Jr. is president and chief executive officer of NJBankers.