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Executive Letter: A Look Back at 2021

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

This time of year, perhaps more than others, causes us to pause and think about all that we are thankful for. As a member-driven trade association, I am always grateful for your membership and support. I want to highlight today a few notable accomplishments that WBA achieved this calendar year with your input and partnership.

The communications team has been working since spring of this year to develop a brand-new website for WBA members, which was recently launched in October. The process leading up to its launch involved feedback from members of various banker committees sharing how they used the site and what they wanted to see in a new site. Traffic to the site has increased since the launch, and thanks to the improved layout and navigation, the number of searches conducted on the site has dropped by over 80%. We are extremely proud to have made our resources more navigable for you and to continue to provide reliable information to you each day.

At the request of members and with support from the Board, WBA also ran a public awareness campaign this spring and summer, building off of the goodwill that was generated by banks throughout Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lending during the pandemic. The campaign included billboards, digital ads, and media relations to highlight the ways Wisconsin banks serve their communities.

Many of our events and schools returned in person in 2021 while we also continued to offer virtual options for members. The flexibility developed by our education team has allowed thousands of bankers to attend conferences around the state, visit WBA’s engagement center in Madison, and view webinars at their convenience. WBA staff continue to receive feedback from members as to how they want training delivered to them, and we continually work to accommodate everyone’s needs.

As always, our government relations team spent time with legislators on our key issues and were crucial in passing helpful legislation but preventing what would hurt our industry the most. The number one priority this year was getting COVID-19 premises liability protection passed and enacted, and our team was instrumental in doing so. The WBA government relations team, along with voices from our membership, also helped prevent the advancement of legislation that would have expanded the authorized powers and abilities of credit unions (AB 478) as well as the advancement of legislation that would disrupt the electronic payment system (AB 587/SB 572).

Last, but not least, the legal team has stayed busy staffing the legal call program to promptly respond to member questions, creating new compliance toolkits and resources for members, and writing comment letters and amicus briefs on regulatory and judicial issues important to the banking industry.

WBA is your association, and we would not exist without your involvement and support of our many programs and services. Our staff is proud to work with you and support the great work you do in your banks and in your communities. Thank you for your membership and engagement — looking back over this year’s accomplishments makes it clear that we have accomplished many things together that no one institution could have done alone. I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!