Rusty Rust

Rusty Rust
TBA Chairman

Bankers resilience shines in post-pandemic phase

Bankers have proven to be a resilient bunch historically and this phase in a post-pandemic world is just the next challenge.

Bankers have proven to be a resilient bunch historically and this phase in a post-pandemic world is just the next challenge.

Being on the open road with TBA CEO Chris Furlow and visiting face-to-face with member bank reps in cities like Texarkana, El Paso and Abilene, to name a few, has been a little bit surreal. It wasn’t that long ago meetings were exclusively done virtually and everyone was wearing a mask.

Each visit has come with its own unique experience as we are all developing policies that are ironically labeled as “back to normal.” There is nothing normal, or standard about this ease out of the full pandemic phase because moving away from the pandemic is as unique a scenario as it was to move into the pandemic.

Reports have been coming out on how some banks are welcoming back only vaccinated employees, or that customers for now are relying on digital banking access more than physical. Not all scenarios have been viewed as a viable solution, or a perfect situation.

We should all expect some bumps in the road as we get back to normal work operations, whatever that means. As individual banks, the task and road ahead can look daunting. However, our shared experience as members of TBA and the communication channels made available to us to share these experiences make us stronger. Like we already do with hacks and scams, our association should be utilized as a safe place where member banks can share, listen and learn to develop their own best practices.

Bankers have proven to be a resilient bunch historically and this phase in a post-pandemic world is just the next challenge. The trials and tribulations we faced with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is proof of that spirit. The TBA Texas Tour has allowed me to physically sit with colleagues — even with its awkward moments — and appreciate this experience as another learning moment going forward.

Today, we are all transitioning in ways that make sense in our own communities and to our workforce. As many of you have already done, I too have had to make choices and judgment calls that can return us to “normal,” as it were, without ignoring some of the lessons we have learned during this difficult period. 

In these unprecedented times, we must be bold and pragmatic in our return to business as it-is, not as it-was. From what I have witnessed these last few weeks, I take comfort knowing our “welcome back to normalcy” policies are centered around the safety of our customers, workforce and families. 

I also see many of us carrying on versions of lessons learned from the pandemic like remote working, or leveraging technology. Even things we should have adopted more widely prior to this event, like making some exams and/or certifications virtually available to impact a wider market. Versions of these practices existed well before they were required, but now with the pandemic moving further away every day in our rearview mirror, we should incorporate the willingness to adapt more quickly into our playbooks.

Our shared lessons will get us past the idea that one size fits all and TBA is here to help.