Executive Letter: The Most Effective Lobbyist is You

By Rose Oswald Poels

Your voice continues to be critical as we advocate for a myriad of issues on behalf of the banking industry at the state and federal levels. While WBA is your advocacy representative, there is no more effective “lobbyist” than a banker engaging in conversations with elected officials and regulators. This message was certainly shared recently during ICBA’s virtual Capital Summit and last month during ABA’s virtual Washington Conference. Many of you have first-hand experience joining WBA over the years in Washington, Madison, or virtually, as we routinely engage in individual meetings with our entire Congressional delegation and state delegation. My message today is simple: continue being an active participant in our advocacy efforts and encourage other bankers to join us!

Our federal and state legislative agendas are robust and at the same time, our regulatory initiatives are equally substantive. In order for WBA to be successful in accomplishing our advocacy goals, we need your ongoing active involvement as well. If you are not already signed up, please register to attend our 2021 WBA Capitol Day and tell your story to your state elected officials. Our 2021 Capitol Day will be virtual and held in two parts: a large-group kickoff on May 11, and individual meetings scheduled separately with legislators. Very few legislators have experience in banking, so it’s critical to build relationships with your elected leaders to help them understand how public policy impacts your bank’s ability to aid in the economic growth and vitality of your community. You can learn more and register here.

While WBA held virtual meetings with our entire congressional delegation in January and February, we are planning to meet with the delegation again during their August recess to advocate for our federal legislative agenda. Some of these may be virtual; however, if the elected official is willing to meet in person, we will plan to meet in their local district office. If you are interested in joining us for these meetings, please contact me at ropoels@wisbank.com.
WBA is also engaging in small group virtual meetings with each of the banking regulators over the course of the next few months. Normally, we host these meetings in person in Madison in addition to visiting the industry’s regulators in Washington each fall. If you are interested in participating in a small group virtual conversation with your bank’s regulator, please contact WBA’s VP-Legal Heather MacKinnon at hmackinnon@wisbank.com. In addition to sharing which regulator is your bank’s primary federal regulator, please also provide Heather with any specific topic or issue you’d like to make sure is raised during these conversations.
Finally, if your bank does not already have an advocacy officer identified for WBA, please appoint someone to that role today by contacting WBA’s John Cronin at jcronin@wisbank.com. The WBA Board of Directors set a goal for every WBA member to have one named advocacy officer, so I need your help to reach this goal! The advocacy officer should not be the bank president or CEO. Ideally, this person should be someone willing to be the primary point of contact to receive WBA’s advocacy information and help coordinate grassroots engagement and political fundraising within the bank. WBA staff provide support and information to help the advocacy officer succeed so that the time spent by the banker is minimal.
Thank you for your active involvement over the years in our advocacy efforts. I look forward to this dedication continuing throughout this next session.