Touring our great state
As I write this column, I’ve recently traveled to 16 Texas cities to meet with nearly 850 bankers as part of TBA’s 2019 Texas Tour. Our El Paso reception, the 17th and final stop of the Tour, was scheduled for July 30.
In my discussions with past TBA chairmen, I continually heard from them that the Tour would be one of the most exhausting yet rewarding events of my tenure. They were absolutely right! It was extremely gratifying to visit with so many great bankers representing all levels and functions of Texas banks, including the next generation of leaders. As we walked into the venues, many of which were standing-room-only, I could feel the energy and enthusiasm emanating from the bankers in the room.
It really was a whirlwind tour, as we visited three Texas cities each day during the week of June 17. Our Tour took us from Central Texas, to the Rio Grande Valley, the Panhandle, East Texas and West Texas. We met with bankers in metropolitan areas, like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, as well as more rural communities like Uvalde, Kilgore and Victoria, and several cities in between.
Attendance this year at each Texas Tour stop was the highest in years. In Waco, we were greeted with a near-capacity crowd at the Ridgewood Country Club, with more than 90 bankers in attendance. Many other stops, including Kilgore, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, also pulled in very impressive crowds with several Tour stops sold out.
The dual purpose of the Texas Tour was to update our TBA member banks on the immense efforts underway by TBA to support community banking in Texas and ensure that Texas community banks thrive for decades to come, while also updating attendees on banking-related legislation that passed during the 86th Texas Legislative Session and that have potential for passage on the federal level this Congressional session.
At each meeting, I kicked off the program with a review of my priorities, which include: intensifying efforts to obtain member input to help formulate and execute TBA strategies as we strive to ensure that we are a completely member-centric association; increasing banker engagement at all levels within TBA member banks; conducting an internal review of TBA to increase efficiency and efficacy; and continuing to manage the TBA building project towards reality.
I provided an update of the building project, explaining that the TBA Board has authorized the engagement of a development firm (Development 2000) and architectural firm (Beck), and that we anticipate concept plans to be delivered shortly while being 12-14 months away from beginning construction.
TBA President and CEO Chris Furlow followed with a TBA Convention recap, overview of a host of association initiatives underway and discussion of risks and what TBA is doing to help banks overcome them. He mentioned that TBA staff members have logged more than 150,000 miles in visits to Texas banks in the last year and that the Professional Development Department has trained approximately 8,000 bankers at more than 200 educational events.
Chris also discussed the risks — competitive, regulatory and cyber — confronting community banks and mentioned the tools and solutions TBA has developed and is working on to help banks combat these risks.
TBA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Deputy General Counsel Celeste Embrey gave attendees a recap of this past legislative session, focusing on card skimming, data protection, lien legislation, school finance reform as well as several specific bills that affect the banking industry. Celeste and Chris also touched on federal issues, including BSA-AML reforms, CECL, CBLR and data protection and privacy.
I hope you had the opportunity to attend one of our Texas Tour stops. For me, the Tour was a great way to start my tenure as your chairman. There’s no better way to meet with bankers than to do so in the communities they serve! TBA remains committed to helping our member banks be the strength of the communities they serve — because we know that Strong Banks mean Stronger Communities.