Relationship Banking, WBA Style

By Rose Oswald Poels

Banking is about relationships. As a leader in your bank, many times you are making connections between different businesses and people to help them reach a common goal. It’s about leveraging those relationships for the greater good.

WBA has done the same thing throughout the years in its approach to advocacy to help achieve successes for the industry. Over the last few years, the WBA Board has encouraged staff to continue and grow our coalition building efforts to maximize the impact of our advocacy initiatives. For instance, late last Spring, WBA built a coalition of 34 different Wisconsin business groups urging SBA and Treasury to simplify the PPP loan forgiveness process. That effort placed WBA among the most successful state banking trade associations in that campaign and helped move the needle for so many businesses and banks.

More recently, on the same topic of PPP forgiveness, I orchestrated another business coalition. Groups like Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Wisconsin Restaurant Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business in Wisconsin were just a few of the organizations I asked to join the effort in telling our Wisconsin Delegation how critical it is for Wisconsin’s businesses, your customers, to have automatic PPP loan forgiveness.

And, just last week, a meeting between Governor Evers, DFI Secretary Blumenfeld, WBA, a few bankers, and their business clients was held due to our efforts. While the message sent was that Wisconsin needs to stay open for the benefit of our economy, and can do so safely, the underlying goal was to connect the governor with the unique and broad perspective of the banking industry. During this conversation, he directly heard how the pandemic is impacting banks, their loan portfolios, and communities, while their business customers related the specific effects to their respective businesses.

WBA has a powerful reputation in this state, as does the banking industry as a whole. We’ll continue to leverage our relationships to ensure the strong voice of Wisconsin’s banking industry is heard by elected officials and other thought leaders on the local, state, and federal levels.