The Wisconsin Bankers Association belongs to you, and me, and every individual member banker in the state. We are the driving force behind everything the association does, from networking to advocacy. As members of the WBA, we are also its leaders. I invite you to consider the following ways you, as an individual, can become an industry leader through our association.
There has never been a more critical time for bankers to speak up about our industry. The current tone in Washington, D.C. seems to be "every industry for itself" as retailers, insurers, credit unions and banks all try to bend the ears of lawmakers and our new president. It will take all of us to make sure that the needs of the banking industry are heard over the ruckus.
You can speak up by contacting your representatives about issues that matter to Wisconsin bankers, and also by submitting comment letters to regulatory agencies when new rules are proposed. WBA often provides sample comment letters for banks to customize with their own stories before submitting. These are an effective, efficient way to add your voice to help our industry.
You can also help by attending the WBA Capitol Day on May 10 in Madison. This one-day, free event sends a loud message to lawmakers in Madison and in Washington about our industry's commitment to our communities and the economy. Learn more and register at www.wisbank.com/CapitolDay. You can also host a Take Your Legislature to Work Day event at your bank. Invite the elected officials who represent you to come peek behind the scenes at what your bank does: extending credit to the community, helping small businesses grow and families prosper.
Beyond advocacy, individual bankers can lead the industry through WBA's many committees and section boards. The bankers who volunteer to contribute their time and talents to these groups make decisions regarding educational programming, networking events and even association agendas. There are four primary Sections that banks (or individual bankers, depending on the Section) can join:
- Agricultural Bankers Section – Members are ag lending specialists; the group is very active in government relations that impact agriculture.
- Retail Bankers Section – Members receive discounts on certain education offerings and run a scholarship program for high school seniors.
- Trust Bankers Section – Members monitor legislative issues and provide educational programs for trust professionals.
- BOLT – WBA's emerging leaders group, BOLT is comprised of bankers who want to grow their careers through networking, professional development and contribute to the legacy of Wisconsin's banking industry.
You can read more about these sections and WBA's other committees at www.wisbank.com/members/community/get-involved.
No matter how you want to become involved, remember that you become a leader in the industry when you do something. Leadership requires action. It will take all of our voices to be heard.
Erdman is President of Partnership Bank, Tomah and the 2016-2017 WBA Chair.