Pretty good, actually. Although COVID-19 significantly impacted our professional development and other event programs, the association turned to a virtual delivery system where possible and made the best of a very challenging situation.
The West Virginia Bankers Association boards and its for-profit subsidiary receive regular updates on the association’s operational and financial well-being. Because we are a member-based association, it is important to occasionally share the “state of the association” with all the members.
Your association continues to perform well, is financially strong, and managed to make a small profit last year despite having to cancel Banking School in May 2020, the Annual Convention in July 2020, and several professional development conferences due to the global pandemic. We continue to be successful by focusing on improved operational efficiencies, reduced and controlled overhead expenses, and a renewed attention on the for-profit subsidiary. Successes in each of these areas resulted in board approval to decrease the 2021 dues assessment rate by 10% and a $5,000 reduction in the dues cap, or the maximum amount of dues paid by any member bank. The last decrease in the dues assessment rate was in 2018, when we realized a significant reduction in occupancy expense by relocating our headquarters from downtown Charleston to Kanawha City.
Operational efficiencies have been realized by moving from an in-house IT system to an outsourced managed service solution, allowing staff to focus attention on our core objectives of professional development, advocacy and communication. The IT vendor selected through an RFP process has the experience and depth to deliver what we need to keep our operating systems protected and performing well and allow us to operate more efficiently, both in terms of work processes and costs.
A renewed emphasis has also been placed on our for-profit subsidiary. The company was formed in 1999 to develop, maintain and provide access to high-quality products and services that benefit our member banks and support day-to-day bank operations. The corporation is governed by a board of directors responsible for screening and approving vendors that best meet association members’ needs. All endorsed partners must demonstrate the benefits of aggregated buying power, direct member discounts, expense reduction and revenue enhancement to receive our seal of approval. Since 2016, the board has approved four companies’ endorsements and the for-profit’s gross revenues have increased 163%. I encourage all bank members to reach out to any staff member to learn how our endorsed solutions can benefit your bank.
Another initiative is the Jan. 1, 2021, launch of the Multiple Employers 401(k) Plan. Including your association, four member banks elected to join at startup. With the assistance of our third-party service providers, the association has been able to design a first-class retirement solution that provides benefits to participating banks and their participating employees. Benefits to participating banks include fiduciary risk mitigation, leveraged buying power, and reduced administrative burden while participating employees enjoy attractive benefits and a higher level of service to achieve their retirement goals.
Advocacy on behalf of the industry is, and always will be, a top priority of your association. Since 2016, the association has sponsored 17 bills favorable to the banking industry, only one of which did not pass. Our success is largely due to increased participation by West Virginia bankers in grassroots activities such as our annual Legislative Day event and Calls to Action. Legislative successes are also attributed to increased participation in WVBankPAC, the association’s political action committee. Contributions to WVBankPAC continue to grow, 45% since 2016, and we could not be more thankful. WVBankPAC allows us to directly contribute campaign dollars to those legislative candidates who are pro-business, pro-growth, and understand the importance of a strong banking industry.
Looking back over my four-year tenure as your association’s CEO, I am proud of our accomplishments. I am also aware that to stay on a path of success, the association must be nimble and willing to change with membership change amid an industry that continues to consolidate and grow geographically. Our future success will depend on our ability to recognize and create a value proposition that changes with member needs. With the support and direction of the board of directors, I believe we are up to the challenge.
It is an honor to serve this great industry, and I look forward to visiting with each of you soon.
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE WEST VIRGINIA BANKERS ASSOCIATION