Our annual convention serves many purposes: renewing and reaffirming our relationships with colleagues, celebrating our shared successes and challenges, and enjoying a very special resort experience in West Virginia that is unique in the world. It is also an occasion to take stock of our accomplishments and cast an eye to the future.
As I write this, I have had several months in the association’s leadership role. Humility and excitement describe my initial impressions. I am humbled by the awareness of the association’s tremendous accomplishments under my predecessor, Sally Cline, and the board she served. I am excited by the opportunities available to the association to continue to enhance its service to its stakeholders.
Charting a new course requires appreciating where we are and how we arrived there. During Sally’s tenure, she and the association board successfully undertook multiple initiatives to maintain the association’s value and relevance. Some notable accomplishments include completing staff transitions as valuable long-time employees retired, increasing operational efficiency through redesigned workflows, substantially reducing dues for all bank members while maintaining modest dues requirements for associate members, and achieving enhanced member engagement and support.
Upon her retirement, Sally delivered an association consistently realizing its commitments to advocacy, education, and leadership, staffed by a very talented and committed set of leaders and poised to embrace continued change in pursuing greater value and relevance to its members. As we move forward, we are fortunate to begin from the solid foundation that Sally and the board have constructed for the membership.
The West Virginia banking industry is entering an exciting and dynamic period of opportunity and challenge. The economic opportunities for the state, professional opportunities for bankers and the number and variety of available tools for banks to employ have never been greater. At the same time, bankers face a rapidly changing competitive landscape that is less defined by interbank competition, increasingly complex and nuanced legislative and regulatory pressures, and leadership transitions as we baby boomers pass the torch, and a greater need to efficiently identify and deploy internal and external resources to maintain competitive relevance.
The association represents a voluntary cooperation among banking competitors to accomplish goals that would be difficult or impossible for our members to achieve individually. Each member has and will have its own, very specific, definition of the association’s role in that member’s success. Our challenge will be to ensure that the association serves each member’s definition of value.
The association’s strength, influence and utility come from its membership’s size, diversity, engagement and shared commitments. In the dynamic environment in which we operate, it is increasingly challenging to understand and build consensus on shared commitments. This has implications for guiding advocacy, designing and delivering education, curating and offering effective and efficient solutions, and facilitating constructive conversations among members, communities, lawmakers, regulators, and potential allies and opponents.
A key priority for me will be developing the association’s capacity to facilitate conversations that will help the board, banker leaders and association management in understanding what constitutes relevance to our individual members as we all navigate a constantly changing environment. The association will remain strong, useful, and relevant as long as it continues to find consensus among our members regarding the value of working together to lift our industry, customers, communities and state.