By John E. McWeeney Jr.
It’s hard to believe, but as I write this column the holidays are fast approaching and 2008 is just around the corner. Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Roger Bosma and our board of trustees, as well as the hard work and effort of our dedicated NJBankers staff, we can look back on 2007 with great pride at all that’s been accomplished. There’s no question that NJBankers finished the year a much stronger organization than the one that started the year.
On the program side, we were able to build on the momentum of our outstanding convention at The Breakers and carry it right through the year with a series of successful programs such as the Washington Trip, the Senior Management Conference, and the Trust and Wealth Management Conference, just to name a few. The success of these programs, along with some prudent financial management, contributed to a very successful financial year for NJBankers. This puts us on solid financial ground as we look to provide our members with more valued-added services.
NJBankers also enjoyed another successful year on the government relations front thanks to the efforts of Rob Tartaglia and our legal counsel, Mary Kay Roberts of Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP. Rob has built a strong relationship with our legislators in Trenton and has leveraged that to support our industry’s positions on key issues. We also began to raise our profile in Washington by building a stronger partnership with the American Bankers Association (ABA). Lastly, on the government relations front under the leadership of Committee Chairman Mike Quick, we’re wrapping up a successful JebPac campaign that will exceed last year’s total of $80,000 raised.
Perhaps our greatest 2007 accomplishment, however, was a much higher level of engagement with our bank and affiliate members, as well as other key strategic partners. Through direct one-on-one meetings, group events and an improving communications program, NJBankers is reaching out to our members and strategic partners and asking for your input. I think we’ve begun the process of building a strong dialogue, one which we’re committed to further growing in the future.
As we move into the New Year, there’s much work still to be done in order to transform ourselves into the member-driven, value-added association that we strive to be. Some of the areas we will focus on in 2008 are:
Introducing new education and networking programs that create more value for our members. Already planned are a February Legislative Day in Trenton and our first annual golf outing in June to benefit financial literacy. Still to be planned are programs for bank directors and women bankers;
Improving the impact of our government relations efforts by raising the level of political action committee contributions at both the state and federal levels and fully implementing the ABA’s Direct Contact Banker Program;
Strengthening communication with our members, both bank and affiliate, by launching a weekly e-mail newsletter (scheduled for January) and scheduling more direct visits by NJBankers staff members and trustees;
Growing our bank and affiliate membership base through a targeted membership campaign in the first quarter of 2008; and
Growing the operations of NJBA Service Corp., our for-profit subsidiary, by adding new endorsed providers and aggressively marketing our solutions to our bank members.
Calling All Bankers
One thing is certain, if our association is going to realize its full potential, and our industry is going to survive and prosper in these challenging, yet opportunistic times, we need to stand united. The subprime and credit markets meltdown, the burden of over-regulation, the fiscal crises at both the state and federal levels and the continued competitive threat of new entrants to financial services that play by a different set of rules will require the best that our industry has to offer. For NJBankers that means full engagement from all of our banks and bankers. More specifically, we need to achieve the following:
For those commercial banks that are not currently members of NJBankers, we need your membership and your commitment to support our industry;
We need to drive the level of bank participation in JebPac well beyond the current participation rate of 35 percent. All banks and all bankers need to share this responsibility;
We need more bankers to get involved with NJBankers, whether it’s service on a committee, attending events, or just writing or calling your elected officials to support our industry on key issues. We are tens of thousands strong here in New Jersey and if we work together we can make a difference;
We need our banks to embrace the solutions offered by our endorsed service providers through the NJBA Service Corp. We’re committed to bringing you the best in competitive solutions and your support can have a significant financial impact on NJBankers, allowing us to bring you more services and/or reducing our member’s costs; and
We need you to help us identify and add new service providers that can provide our members with more solutions and help increase affiliate member dues and sponsorships
NJBankers is your association. If we can get your engagement and your support across all of these issues we can help NJBankers achieve its full potential in serving our industry. I’ve had the privilege of being a banker for 28 years. Like many of you, banking has been one of my great passions in life. By getting involved, we’re protecting our livelihoods as well as our ability to serve our clients, associates, shareholders and the communities where we live and work. Beyond that, though, I believe we also have a responsibility to the next generation of bankers to protect our industry so that they have the same opportunities that we did.
To all of you who have done so much for so long to support NJBankers, thank you. Your leadership has been instrumental to our success. To those of you who haven’t had a chance to get involved, for good reasons I’m sure, please come join us. We need you and we need you now.
Thank you and best wishes for a happy and successful New Year from all your friends at NJBankers.
John E. McWeeney Jr. is president and chief executive officer of NJBankers.