WBA’s Advocacy Officer program offers leadership opportunity
By Lorenzo Cruz
Leadership in your bank is about more than networking. As many bank leaders can attest, having a wide range of experience in many different areas of the bank is critical in ensuring a broad understanding of the industry as a whole.
As our industry continues to evolve, one significant area of focus for leaders continues to be government involvement. As members of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA), banks have an opportunity to designate Advocacy Officers, or volunteers who assist in coordinating community advocacy efforts, to work alongside the WBA Government Relations Team on regulatory, legislative, and political activities that impact our industry each day.
In working with WBA staff; fellow bankers; state, local, and federal levels of government; and other state or national trade groups, WBA Advocacy Officers continue to help make life easier for bankers and accomplish the goals of the banking industry.
The typical background for this position usually includes an interest in public policy, a strong understanding of the banking industry (compliance, credit, external relations, etc.), the ability to speak for the bank regarding matters of regulatory or public policy, and a flexible schedule.
But what does an Advocacy Officer (AO) actually do and what are the rewards and advantages for the banker? Here are five opportunities for every Advocacy Officer:
1. Receive relevant, up-to-date information.
Every week, AOs receive a report detailing emerging topics, upcoming regulation, key legislative items, and inside information that will help you be at the front end of important business, banking, and economic issues in Wisconsin. In addition to weekly reports, AOs who are subscribed to the Wisconsin Banker Daily will receive timely updates on the events impacting the industry.
2. Testify before the Wisconsin Legislature or communicate with key elected officials.
This unique leadership opportunity allows AOs to speak directly to legislators and other community leaders about how the banking industry works and how legislation will impact the banking industry. Working directly with WBA staff, an AO is prepared and reinforced with information to help the banker put their best foot forward. AOs email or call elected officials about banking items to help provide information, meet in Madison at WBA’s annual Capitol Day, and host elected officials at the bank as part of “Take Your Legislator to Work Days.”
3. Recognition before your bank leadership and peers.
WBA recognizes AOs in publications and directly with bank leadership for their efforts to help the banking industry. AOs also have the opportunity to attend events that allow an individual to connect with other bankers and WBA leadership. AOs are given the contact information for every Advocacy Officer peer in Wisconsin.
4. Elect pro-banking officials.
Once per year, the AO helps coordinate fundraising activities at the bank for Wisbankpac (PAC) political action committee or the Alliance of Bankers for Wisconsin (ABW) conduit to help support pro-banking candidates. AOs are provided information by WBA in an Advocacy Toolkit that helps with all aspects of the event. WBA is not “D” nor “R,” but “B” for Banking!
5. Meet with leaders from other industries and represent WBA.
AOs regularly attend local and statewide events to represent Wisconsin’s banking industry. These events create an entirely new network of individuals who are leaders in other industries, such as healthcare, accounting, manufacturing, and real estate.