By Rebeca Romero Rainey
This week marks my first year as just the fifth CEO in ICBA’s nearly 90 years. The past year has been an exciting and gratifying whirlwind. The community banking industry has achieved important advocacy gains while continuing our push toward common-sense regulations, innovation and differentiation of community banks.
The past year saw the passage of the S. 2155 regulatory relief law, which advanced numerous ICBA regulatory relief policies after years of unwavering advocacy by ICBA and community bankers. ICBA has since introduced our Community Focus 2020 policy platform to continue promoting greater access to financial services and economic opportunity in local communities.
We’ve also taken the next step in our innovation journey by launching the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, a first-of-its-kind initiative with The Venture Center that facilitates partnerships with early-stage fintech companies focusing on community bank product development. After a 12-week bootcamp, the eight ThinkTECH finalists demoed their solutions to community bankers this spring at ICBA LIVE® in Nashville and at The Venture Center’s offices in Little Rock.
We continued that forward-looking momentum last week with another successful ICBA Capital Summit in Washington, where community bankers conducted more than 320 congressional meetings on our top policy priorities. With so many additional reforms needed in the areas of regulatory relief, the Bank Secrecy Act, cannabis banking, data security, credit union and Farm Credit System taxation, and housing finance, we must continue our efforts to push the needle forward.
As I said at the Capital Summit, I am proud to represent the uniqueness, history, tradition, and belief in local communities that are the hallmarks of community banking. While some of our megabank competitors have unsuccessfully attempted to brand themselves as community banks, your dedication to true relationship banking is why we as an industry have been able to achieve so much in the past year. Unlike some other institutions, you don’t just wear the label of community banker. You live the label.
Thank you, community bankers, for all your achievements. It’s been a thrilling, rewarding experience during my first year as ICBA president and CEO, and I know much more is yet to come as we create and promote an environment where community banks flourish!
Rebeca Romero Rainey is ICBA president and CEO.