The Banking Industry Stands Resilient
Duncan Campbell | President & CEO
Adapted from His Remarks at the PA Bankers 2022 Convention
It is hard to believe that this is my 10th year as president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association. In 2012, my boys, James and Brooks, were five years old and one year old, respectively. I’m so very proud of them, along with my wonderful wife, Kristen. I’m grateful for their support each and every day.
As an industry, we’ve been through a lot in the past 10 years, especially the past two, and yet the banking industry stands resilient, always weathering the storms it's confronted with, and always serving its customer base with passion, compassion and overall care. It cannot be overstated: bankers make peoples’ dreams come true. It simply does not get any better than that.
During the PA Bankers 2022 Convention, 40 bankers and association staff gave of their time to support the local Phoenix community by organizing packages of food for families in need at the St. Mary’s Food Pantry. Watching this group in action was so very special—and efficient --what would you expect from a group of bankers? We churned out 1,008 packages in 90 minutes, which is basically half of the time it normally takes a group our size to complete this task. I want to thank everyone who joined us for this project as well as thank PWCampbell and Cornerstone Advisors for sponsoring our t-shirts. It truly was a special day.
This year, I have the privilege of chairing the Alliance of State Bankers Associations.
The Alliance is a national coalition of 51 state bankers associations and the American Bankers Association that advocates for our members in a coordinated way. One of the things I value most about the Alliance is learning from my peers. One of my most trusted friends from the Alliance, Paul Hickman, president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association, joined us at our annual convention. I thank Paul for his leadership and friendship.
A lot has happened since the PA Bankers 2021 Convention. Since that time, and while not fully behind us, we have certainly turned the corner on COVID. At the same time, we have seen a significant increase in inflation, as an already volatile economic environment has become even more volatile. And we watch with sadness and anger as war wages on in Ukraine.
You will recall that In November, we were actively advocating against an IRS tax policy proposal that would have required banks to track inflows and outflows of customer accounts—first at $600 and then at $10,000—annually. The amount really made no difference, but I’m proud to say that we did not sit back and let this reckless concept become law. No, just the contrary, we mobilized the grassroots and generated thousands of letters to our members of congress. Nationally, over one million comments were filed from bankers and their customers—a truly remarkable effort, and I commend everyone who played a part.
We need to stay vigilant and advocate for good policies and against bad ones, especially in the current regulatory environment. Cannabis banking; Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG); Central Bank Digital Currency; small dollar lending; leveling the playing field with credit unions and Farm Credit; and ensuring a level playing field with fintech, crypto and other non-bank competitors are all issues in front of us.
We have a strong industry. We need to demonstrate that strength through our sustained advocacy efforts. Right now, we have a cannabis banking call to action in support of the SAFE Banking Act. Please take the time (and when I say the time, I mean two minutes of your time) to go on record in support of this legislation. Please have the employees of your bank add their voices. Through coordinated efforts, we can demonstrate effective advocacy for our industry. Every one of our 70,000+ Pennsylvania bankers can play a role and needs to play a role. We are stronger together, and as we saw with the IRS reporting example, together we can make a difference.
In making a difference, our reach expands beyond policy and into the operations of our institutions and support of our local communities. This pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s workforce. I truly believe that COVID accelerated operational changes to the workforce by five to 10 years. Workers have choices now to work with greater flexibility. From the conversations we have had with member HR directors, we recognize the major workforce challenge that exists for all of you. To this end, we have launched a pilot internship program in central PA in coordination with Shippensburg University, Millersville University and several of our member institutions—we anticipate expanding that program statewide next year in hopes of attracting more individuals into the banking industry.
Operationally, banks demonstrated throughout this health crisis that they can be flexible. And now we have the opportunity to learn from it. While banks may not be in position to go fully virtual, we learned that we can still function at the highest level in a hybrid work environment—an advantage that we didn’t see coming before March of 2020.
Where am I going with this? Well in April, we hosted our inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Conference. One of the thoughts that was surfaced during a roundtable discussion was around recruiting talent from outside of a bank’s regional footprint in an effort to identify a more diverse set of employee candidates. As we learned during COVID, no longer do we need to be limited by our geographical location to employ the best available workers. That might require some thinking and acting outside of the box, and it simply may not work in some cases with some positions, but I would venture to say that COVID indeed forced us to think and act differently. We have sustained this operational thinking as leaders of the banking industry for the past two+ years, and as a result, we have an opportunity to recruit out-of-market talent and employ these individuals to work for us anywhere. Doing so can lead to the expansion of DEI within our institutions, and it will allow us to do good and do well at the same time.
The energy and enthusiasm throughout this first-ever DEI conference was palpable, reminiscent of our first Women in Banking Conference. We launched the Bank On Keystone coalition with partners such as PA Treasury, the United Way of PA and other statewide and regional organizations to promote Bank On accounts across the commonwealth. Bank On Accounts are low-fee or no-fee, safe accounts now offered by more than 30 financial institutions in Pennsylvania, with the goal of broadening banking services to the unbanked and underbanked.
The DEI conference welcomed new faces to the association, and we hope to further engage with these bankers beyond this conference. We need your help. If you have employees in your bank that want to get involved with the association, please let us know. If you have employees in your bank that may not know about the association, but you feel could offer value to their peers, please get them involved.
I referenced Women in Banking, and I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to acknowledge the fact that eight years after the kickoff conference in 2014, this event brings together more bankers than any of our other events, outside of convention. Nearly 300 women (and men) gathered in Hershey earlier in May to learn, network and lead together. It was a great success and a great model, as I anticipate our DEI conference to follow with similar success in reaching new bankers from across the commonwealth.
I would like to say a word about our professional staff at the association. Each member of this team works extremely hard for the membership—I know that because I see it every day—and they all work hard for you because of what you all do in your communities, for your customers and for all of Pennsylvania. We saw this extraordinary effort, firsthand, over the past two years, and it drives us to want to do even more for you—through advocacy, professional development, member engagement and resources, and products and services. I thank our staff members for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the full association membership.
And finally, I would be remiss if I did not offer a word or two about our chair, Wes Weymers, and the association officers—Mark Ritter, Angie Sargent and Brad Scovill. Led by Wes, who I’ve had the pleasure of traveling the commonwealth with the past months, these four individuals have given greatly of their time to advocate with our public officials; lead key association committees, such as Personnel, Audit & Budget, and Advocacy; and to provide thoughtful deliberation on what is important to the sustainability of the Pennsylvania banking industry and the Pennsylvania Bankers Association. I thank them all for their commitment to the full association community.
As the next fiscal year approaches, I look forward to working with our 2022- 23 officer team: Mark, Angie, Wes and Randy Black. We have a busy year ahead of us, and I know these individuals will provide the leadership we need to continue on our strategic mission to support the Pennsylvania banking industry.