Pub. 13 2022 Issue 3

President’s Message: Association Focus

At our recent 128th Annual Meeting and Convention, I was given an opportunity to speak, and I chose to highlight all we have accomplished together over the past six years. Because our organization is member-driven and member-inclusive, ALL should be aware of our successes. I have therefore decided to use this space to share an excerpt of my comments:

Your Association continues to perform well and is financially strong. 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%, as well as a $5,000 reduction in the dues cap, or the maximum amount of dues paid by any member bank. We continue to work toward further dues reductions as we move forward.

Operational efficiencies were realized in 2019 when we moved 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 not only keep our operating systems protected and performing well but also allow us to operate more efficiently, both in terms of work processes and costs.

Similarly, we have identified a better solution to help with Association management and add value to our organization by creating efficiencies in workflows. This new tool will help us to better focus on increasing member engagement and identifying opportunities for non-dues revenue. We plan to migrate to that system later this year. Because the new solution will allow us to discontinue existing vendor contracts, we will be able to save almost $8,000 per year, representing 5% of total operating expenses.

Overhead expenses were reduced in 2017 when we relocated our offices, saving almost $30,000 per year, and we have reduced salaries and benefits by downsizing from six full-time staff members to five as of Oct. 1, 2020.

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 who is responsible for screening and approving vendors that best meet the needs of Association members. All endorsed partners must demonstrate the benefits of aggregate buying power, direct member discounts, expense reduction and/or revenue enhancement to receive our seal of approval. Since I took over the CEO position in 2016, the for-profit board has approved the endorsement of four companies and the company’s gross revenues have increased 108%.

Advocacy on behalf of the industry is, and always will be, a top priority of your Association. Since 2016, the Association has advocated for 24 bills signed into law that were favorable to the banking industry. Our success is due in large part 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, 50% 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 six-year tenure as your Association’s CEO, I am proud of our accomplishments. The Board and I are 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 both Boards of Directors, we are up to the challenge.

You will be pleased to know that during our annual meeting, the Board of Directors again voted to reduce bank member dues. Effective May 1, 2023, the dues assessment rate will decrease 17% and the dues cap will decrease $10,000. Again, this is a huge accomplishment made possible by focusing on improved operational efficiencies, reduced and controlled overhead expenses, and a renewed attention on our for-profit subsidiary. Thank you for your belief in our organization and all that you do to help us be successful.